The Barr Brothers gave everyone at Hillside 2017 a truly unique rock experience and not just because the show contained the first harp solo I have ever experienced in modern music. By the way, I mean an actual harp, not slang for harmonica. When you are watching The Barr brothers perform live it feels like you are like taking a swim in raging rapids. At first you might fight against the chaos, but very soon you start to swim towards the current and you just let the river take you wherever it wants you to go.
Hailing from Montreal, The Barr Brothers play unconventional progressive rock and roll, which is an accomplishment unto itself. Their music has aspects of everything from jazz and punk rock to classical music and the blues, but what they really draw from is the well of folk rock, which is unusual for such a dizzying style of music. Their live performance is breathtaking, tumultuous and poetic. Sometimes they seem to take what would otherwise be a conventional catchy composition and play dissonant notes over top of it. At other moments they would sync up like a metronomic hive mind and exchange riffs.
One of the other notable aspects of this group is that the drummer has a bike wheel on his kit to play in place of a ride symbol. It creates a tin like timbre similar to the rhythm section of The Violent Femmes. My favorite part of the show was actually when they paired things down and did a gorgeous four part harmony onto one microphone. The Barr Brothers take simple things and make them complex. If you need a little more entropy in your life then consider going on a ride with The Barr Brothers.
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