the pipe, the pipe, his calling

Mike Silverman, a.k.a. That 1 Guy, croaked, slapped, stomped, bowed, looped, laughed and howled his way through a bafflingly under-attended set at the Rivoli last night. Accompanying himself on the Magic Pipe – an electrified 2-string proto-bass cyborg made of articulated piping, sample and loop triggers and a valve that spews smoke when things get really exciting – as well as musical saw and talking boot, T1G treated the somewhat subdued audience to his unique outsider-funk stream-of-consciousness poetry, opening with some remarkably contrabass-like arco work that exploded into the Beefheart/Zappa/Waitsenescent “Weasel Pot Pie”, and continuing on a raucous foot-stomping journey through favourites from his CDs Songs in the Key of Beotch and The Moon is Disgusting and closing with his iconic breakout single “One.” Aside from his obvious rhythmic, musical and lyrical talents, T1G manages to merge digital with electro-acoustic without letting anyone get hung up on the technology. While many contemporary performers wrap themselves in their own loops as if weaving incantations, Silverman’s show is a more organic construction – one tends to focus more on his wide-eyed expressions and the blur of his hands while the arrangements seem to build of their own accord, eventually engulfing the tunes unexpectedly as if in an aural backdraft. It’s a sure sign of a soul-deadening recession or a truly random universe (maybe both) when a show this polished and energetic doesn’t even garner an encore. But a remarkably polite and grateful post-show T1G signed CDs with a toothy grin, already planning to return later this summer.