It's not entirely unusual for us to go to a show for the opening act rather than the headliner, and last night's show was as good an example of that as any, although as it turned out, we really liked the headliner, too.
The opener and our reason our heading out was percussionist extraordinaire Thor Harris, performing as Thor & Friends. We've seen Thor in the past performing with Shearwater and with Swans, two very different bands, and last night Thor & Friends put on a transcendent show of what might be called new music or minimalism, in the tradition of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
The music primarily centered around the sound of three marimba-like mallet instruments, apparently hand-made by Mr. Harris himself. The mesmerizing sound of th epercussion was accompanied by Adam Torres, the headliner, on guitar, Aisha Burns on violin, and Dailey Toliver on bass and Wurlitzer, with Thor Harris contributing some occasional oboe. Of particular note was Austin's Peggy Ghorbani playing, which, as Thor helpfully pointed out, included a solo playing in two different time signatures at the same time.
Here they are in Austin at something called The Museum of Human Achievement (but looks suspiciously like someone's garage), playing with special guest Amanda Palmer.
The compositions were highly varied in texture and tempo, and one number, Grass Fire!, stood out due to both Thor's set up and introduction and to he opportunity for audience participation.
We hadn't heard of headliner Adam Torres before, but were duly impressed by his AllMusic profile. During some of his stage banter, THor said that he typically didn't find singer/songwriters very interesting, but when he was dragged by friends to hear Torres in Austin, he had no choice but to walk up to to him after the show and ask, "How can I be of service?" Torres is the acoustic-based singer/songwriter for those who don't particularly care for acoustic-based singer/songwriters.
Added bonus points: his backing band was Thor on drums, Aisha on violin, and Dailey on bass and keys.
Set standout was probably the song Juniper Arms, written about a near-fatal bicycle accident and its aftermath.
The falsetto, which is not used on all songs, is startling when first heard live, and Torres used it well to dramatic effect during the set.
It was a great night of artistic and enlightening music, and one of the most intriguing shows we've seen at Eddie's Attic (and between Nils Cline, Joseph Arthur, and Family Crest, we've seen some intriguing shows there).