Fri Oct 7
714 SW 20th Pl
BARR is a weird animal. Alternately regarded as everything from spoken word, hiphop, motivational lecture, and rock-less punk rock, the only unquestionable thing about BARR is that it's the essential oil of one ebullient, positive-force-expunging Los Angeles native Brendan Fowler. Also: BARR is one of the most incomparable bands in the world.
Over the course of two self-released full-lengths and the brand-new Beyond Reinforced Jewel Case (out this week on 5RC), Fowler speaks and spins weird tracks about a buffet of highly personal, political, and hilariously off-the-dome topics, all with the common vernacular of a 10th grader—mentally roaming with the dexterity of a brilliant improv musician. Fowler's screeds are sometimes a cappella, but more often set against extremely minimal drum machine beats or his own jazz drumming. Throughout, BARR maintains an emotional earnestness of naked communication like little else traditionally marketed as pop music.
BARR's brand of brain-and-heart bleeding self-projection is made even more direct in his obsessively spare musical arrangements—even the fullest of BARR beats make the traditional solo-confessional-dude-with-a-guitar sound virtually orchestral by comparison. And yet somehow, BARR's performances still come off as powerfully focusedt. Endless criticisms could be lobbed at BARR's musicality, but the mode of expression that Fowler has created somehow completely burrows through these issues—asserting itself as a medium at least as valid as any "realized" indierock or hiphop music. If one were inclined, links could be drawn from BARR to more ancient storytelling forms from around the world—though Fowler's own pop culture/modern art-addled brain definitely lends a scorchingly present feel. BARR is an absolutely singular achievement: a blank slate, a penetrating brain cannon in the form of one painfully amiable white dude from Los Angeles. And it's something to see.