I recently saw Sxip Shirey with Special Guests at Joe’s pub. I’ve seen Shirey play a few times before, always at party venues and have enjoyed his eclectic and energetic shows. Most of what I’ve seen him play in the past has been a sort of gypsy punk, blues-y, mash up produced with every variety of instrument or music making utensil/toy imaginable. He refers to his style as Jank, which fits it better than any other description I’ve heard. The music has always been fun, surprising and danceable and Shirey himself is a charismatic and engaging performer.
I came to Joe’s Pub Saturday expecting exciting and wonderful things and ended up being blown away by the gentle-ness, nuance and complexity of Shirey’s compositions. As Shirey informed the audience, he was performing a “sweet” show and the music fit this description. It was melodic and beautiful while still being performed on unconventional instruments. The list of instruments Shirey used was only dwarfed by the number of ‘special guests’ he brought on stage to play with him; giving the impression that Shirey drew this talented group of artists together in the same manner he gathered his wine glasses, bowls and bells to flesh out his compositions. Particularly magical was a piece he composed to accompany Meilies’ classic silent film A Trip to the Moon. He had presented this and other works scoring Meilies’ work at a show at the Museum of the Moving Image a year ago. (A show I sadly missed since I hadn’t gotten out of bed early enough to make it to Queens in time.)
On a side note I am always impressed with the sounds quality and attention to details at Joe’s Pub. Its becoming one of my favorite venues for appreciating music. It functions primarily as a music venue, but with a theatre mentality. It makes me feel like a snob to say it, but it can be frustrating to see a show in an established venue with the sound bouncing around low ceilings (or disappearing in warehouse sized spaces), cement walls and sweaty bodies. I’m as big a fan of a good party as anyone, but if I’m coming to see music I’d like to hear more than just tin-y reverb. Joe’s Pub always does an immaculate job and Shirey’s show was particularly impressive given the variety of instruments and performers.