These Collisions Have Explosive Results

November 23rd, 2009

Surprise Me Mr. Davis/Land of Talk – Mercury Lounge – November 21, 2009

Surprise Me Mr. Davis
Remember when NASA smashed a rocket into the moon in the hopes of finding water? Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, the same kind of counterintuitive cosmic alchemy was on display. First up, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, a project featuring folk singer-songwriter Nathan Moore as the projectile with jam-pop stalwarts the Slip serving as the lunar mass.

The explosion resulted in unexpected chemistry, high energy and genre-bending fun. Early on, “When a Woman Cuts Your Hair” set the north-meets-south tone with Moore offering sweet, provocative songwriting and the Slip guys—Andrew and Brad Barr on drums and guitar and Marc Freidman on bass—wrapping it all up with tight, constructed playing. The set gave the sold-out crowd plenty of reason to dance or sing along or just hang back and listen. Occasional instrumental forays, powerful harmonies and some real live magic-trick high jinks from Moore proved that there was more to this hunk of rock than first met the eye. Closing with a raging “Sisyphus” an hour into the set, the band seemed like they were just warming up, ready for at least 60 minutes more, but alas, they ceded the stage following a touching a cappella end.

Without the usual crowd flip you find between sets at the Merc, the room stayed at capacity for Land of Talk. Here Andrew Barr stayed behind the drums, acting as the rocket colliding with some addictive Canadian rock. Frontwoman Elizabeth Powell was a revelation, leading the band through one raging song after another. Barr continued to show he’s one of the best drummers out there, elevating good music to greatness—revealing the water hidden beneath the surface and plenty of signs of life. —A. Stein