THE BARR BROTHERS and LITTLE SCREAM at the Great Hall, Thursday, March 1 Rating: NNN
The Barr Brothers' set at the Great Hall started strong, with the four Montrealers crowded together on a darkened stage enclosed by a perimeter of pulsing white light bulbs.
It evoked a midnight campfire, enhanced by the warm intimacy of Brad Barr's vocals, his fingerpicked acoustic guitar, the percussive pitter-patter of hand-hit drums and the elegant plucking of Sarah Page's harp.
Things got louder and more experimental as the night wore on, revealing the band's jam-folk tendencies and their audience's penchant for hippie dancing. Andrew Barr and Andres Vial used bows to saw away at cymbals and crashed sticks against bicycle wheels mounted on stands, while Brad used his right hand to pull a wire across his electric guitar strings while his left-hand fingers hammered on and off.
Mid-set, two members of opening band Little Scream - Laurel Sprengelmeyer and Richard Reed Parry (yes, that Richard Reed Parry) - came aboard to hit the bicycle wheels, a violinist added swooping gypsy-folk touches and the songs sprawled out into epic harmonica-squealing jams.
By the time the Barr Brothers pulled back to a focused four-piece, the crowd had thinned considerably.