REVIEW: The Barr Brothers @ Hotel Cafe, LA 4/4/12

Editor’s note: Speaking of the Barr Brothers, our friend Aaron in LA has been a fan of the project since the beginning and went and caught the show the night before I did. Unfortunately the timing of our server crash coincided right with the time he had to finish the writeup, so read this just knowing that this would have made a lot more sense coming on Thursday morning. My bad. Feel free to tweet at me over @justinpward if you’re upset…

It’s opening day for baseball fans around the country today but last night it was The Barr Brothers turn, opening up their world-wide tour at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, California. The small room was the perfect place for this hour long performance. The audience was attentive and ready to take in some music, something you don’t always get from an LA crowd in a room this small with such an early 8pm start time. The band is a four piece, Brad Barr on lead guitar (& Harmonica), his brother Andrew on drums, Sarah Page on harp and Andres Vial on keyboard. They all met in Montreal and have toured behind their self-titled album for the past year or so gaining recognition and some National TV exposure on The Late Show w/ David Letterman performing Beggar in the Morning. I’m sure you’re aware since LMB never misses an opportunity to hype anything Barr-related.

Last night’s show at the Hotel Cafe offered songs from their first LP and a few new tunes, most likely to appear on the sophomore album, which the band is apparently working on per an interview in the Times Standard calling it “shifty and shadowy”.

Last night’s set opened with two of the more polished songs in Beggar in the Morning and Old Mythologies then moved onto Gone, showing off the more poetic songwriting we’ve come to expect in Brad’s writing. Deacon’s Son brought Brad’s green axe into the mix showing off the rock and roll side. They played a new song Even the Darkness Has Arms which will most likely be added to the song rotation. This version sounded polished already. Towards the end of the show, during an extended jam where Brad and Sarah were trading licks, Brad quickly teased the popular riff from Smoke on the Water to the delight of a few in the audience.

Although disappointed not to hear the rocker Give the Devil Back My Heart, a staple of the first album, it made sense given the small room and the mellowness of the set. That tune really shows off the versatility of their sound, going from slow>rock in a short span. The Barr Brothers are all over the World including stops in San Francisco, Seattle, Amsterdam, London, Denver and Winnipeg over the Spring and Summer months. In between this project, Brad and Andrew will play as Surprise Me Mr Davis and a personal favorite, The Slip at the High Sierra Music Festival on July 5th and 6th. Don’t miss them in any incarnation.

A few quick photo grabs:

The band just released an official video for “Old Mythologies” also: