SXSW 2012, Day 1: The Barr Brothers

photos by Jim Bennett

The Barr Brothers first caught the attention of KEXP when they opened for Deer Tick at The Tractor Tavern last November. The performance was so incredible that we invited them to play an in-studio session the very next morning, which you can watch here. Originally from Montreal, The Barr Brothers released their self-titled debut album last year, an amazing collection of songs showcasing their unique take on folk rock, which can be ethereal, tender, and emotional; heavy, bluesy, and forceful; and sometimes both.

The Barr Brothers didn’t take the fact that they would be performing in a bike shop for granted — prior to their set, drummer Andrew Barr spent a number of minutes setting up a revolving bike wheel as an additional part to his drum kit, which he would play with a drumstick and a violin bow. The Barr Brothers are known for their unconventional instrumentation, and during their set at Mellow Johnny’s, they busted out some sort of antique pedal organ, a full-sized harp, the aforementioned bike wheel, and a piece of what appeared to be fishing line that frontman Brad Barr was somehow running through his guitar (here’s what I mean). The result of most of their diverse instrumental setups is a lightweight, ethereal tint to their music that complements Brad Barr’s softened vocals beautifully. That being said, they can still bust out heavy, unadulterated, in-your-face blues numbers, such as “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’,” which was the penultimate song of their set at Mellow Johnny’s and received a huge ovation from the substantially-sized crowd.

Portrait by Brittney Bollay:

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  1. Clinton Vadnais
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the stream and photos of The Barr Brothers! Next best thing to being there!!

  2. Jeremy
    Posted March 15, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Fantastic set! Their album was one of my favorites of 2011, but I had no idea how well it would come across live. The album is so lush that I assumed that they’d need about 15 performers to reproduce it; I was amazed to see how many sounds came out of just 4 very talented individuals. I also couldn’t have predicted that a bike shop would be such a good venue.

  3. Dave Cumming
    Posted April 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Great video and stills! What a diverse and talented bunch. Can’t wait to see them… tonite! 4/8 at Columbia City Theatre.

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