The Evens / Barr
Swedish American Hall
February 18, 2005 early show

Review by Jake Thomas

I don’t think I can put into words how important Fugazi and Ian Mckay were to my musical growth when I was a kid…so anytime the man comes to town in any form, I’m there front and center.

But first there was Barr. Speaking of being at a loss for words, I don’t even know which ones to use in describing what I saw. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure if I liked it or hated it, but it was certainly interesting and very different. It was just the one guy, who I guess is actually named Barr. All of his music was recorded on something hidden in a bag, I’m assuming minidisk or an iPod or whatever, but he seemed to be having trouble with it (or was intentionally acting like he was having trouble with it as part of his act, I’m really not sure). Along to this music he sorta rapped, or maybe it was spoken word, and he did this voice modulation thing that reminded me a lot of that Martin Short character Jiminy Glick. While this was going on, he kept standing in all of these funny poses like he was stretching before a big run. Honestly, I’m not sure what the hell was going on, but I laughed a number of times and he certainly gets bonus points for originality, an honor tough to come by in this day and age.

With Fugazi seeming to be on permanent hiatus (I sure hope I’m wrong about that), Ian came to SF with his new group The Evens. The group is only a two piece, with Amy Farina on drums and vocals and Ian playing guitar (a baritone guitar I believe) and handling vocals as well. They played what I would assume was most of their upcoming debut album, and it was all fantastic. Lyrically it was pretty similar to Ian’s past output – that is, mostly political; with his voice, it will be tough to ever escape the idea that they remind me of Fugazi, but the addition of Amy’s vocals really changes things up considerably. I don’t think most fans of Fugazi will dislike this material, especially those who really liked the dub influence that had been creeping in over the last few years; but I wouldn’t make a promise that they would love it either. As for me, I am eagerly anticipating the release of this album like it were my first newborn child, and hopefully the Evens will come back and play again once I’ve been able to digest the material better.