Mick Barr last night at Zebulon
Three guitarists of amazing prowess stripped down, stepping away from the comfort of blast-beats, double bass, and rhythm guitar to play solo sets last night (8/29) at Zebulon. The trio, Mick Barr, Kevin Hufnagel and Andrew Hock, each performed separate sets that showed their true virtuosity on their instrument, touching on improv, clean guitar, and looping to create fascinating pieces out of their usual comfort zone. It was a night that captured a glimpse of the abilities of these performers that is seldom seen behind the wall of distortion.
Andrew Hock (Castevet) started off the night, mixing clean spanish style guitar with blasts of feedback noise, eventually transitioning to electric. It was here that he stylistically shifted, looping phrases with an e-bow that recalled the bouncy, bubbling rhythms of Growing with the added underlying textural washes of Stars of The Lid in moments.
Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts) followed, proving that the ukelele isn't just a kitschy instrument damned to Hawaiian tourists or Eddie Vedder's "newest discovery". Hufnagel wielded the four-string like a spanish guitar, playing sad yet powerful passages interjected by short and funny discussion with the crowd. Chops dont always equal good songwriting, but Hufnagel has the ability to shepherd his guitar wizardry into short yet memorable blasts of guitar frenzy.
Mick Barr (Krallice, Orthrelm) closed out the evening with his circular and powerful electric guitar compositions. Like a possessed hummingbird, Barr's maniacal riffing is both impressive and dumb-founding; his laser-accurate fretting had him sliding up and down the neck without missing a single note. Barr's style is almost percussive, with his picking hand thumping against the pickup as he ripped out jaw-dropping riffs that were jazzy with touches of death and black metal. After long stretches of what seemed like 128th-notes, Barr would interject jarring Fugazi-like start-stop rhythms and booming chords that could have stood against most doom bands today. If he didn't sound so good, you could easily sit back and take in the freak show aspect of it all; Mick Barr's abilities as a performer blur the lines between insanity and genius. But mostly genius.