The Slip were born a jazz-infused jam band in the mid-to-late nineties, out of New England’s private Tabor Academy and Boston’s famed Berklee School of Music. In 2003, the trio took their sound to not one, but two new levels with twin live releases, going alt-folk with aliveacoustic, and post-rock with alivelectric. In 2006, The Slip released their first studio album in four years, Eisenhower, and it might have been their biggest jump yet: the band ventured into true indie-rock, a musical journey unfamiliar to most jam acts.
With Eisenhower, The Slip has been accused of, “Changing everything short of the title,” and that’s something the band doesn’t seem to necessarily disagree with. At Hoboken, New Jersey’s Maxwell’s (QRO venue review) on February 27th, one might expect a crowd of disappointed longtime fans, yearning for the old days of country-fried folk-rock and extended, intricate jam sessions, and hopeful hipsters, looking for a band that’s finally come ‘round to their way of thinking. One might think that, and one would be wrong: while some of the indie-scenesters thinned out as the set went on, it was the avant-garde music lovers and beer-fueled frat-hippies that were rockin’.
While not as south of the Mason-Dixon as aliveacoustic, nor as Great White North post-rock as alivelectric, The Slip actually occupied a place somewhere between those two. There were two- or three-minute feedback sessions before some songs, while other times one tune shifted into another so seamlessly that only the cheers of applause from the most familiar of fans would let you know the difference. They even went long with their more indie-rock pieces off of Eisenhower, such “Airplane/Primitive”, Late Night With Conan O’Brien-performed “Children of December”, and Guitar Hero-hit “Even Rats” (approximately eight, five, and six minutes, respectively). In many ways, their performance was less reminiscent of that release than of 2004’s Live At Lupo’s, which actually featured many tracks that would later find themselves on Eisenhower, like “December” and “If One of Us Should Fall”.
The Slip is going to be at a lot of festivals this summer, including next week’s Langerado, then Sasquatch, Wakarusa, and the premiere jam festival, Bonnaroo. Those festivals have been trending more indie in recent years (Bonnaroo features no Phish-associated acts, a first), so attendees might be expecting The Slip to as well. But judging from their appearance at Maxwell’s, while some of the first-timers that are skipping Coachella for these festivals might not be wowed, the regular mud-and-fun crowd outdoor festivals like these have always attracted will be enthralled.