Concert review: Andrew Barrett at UFO Factory

Jun 1, 2015 at 8:30 am

WHO: Andrew Barrett
WHEN: Friday, May 29
WHERE: UFO Factory, Detroit

At the opening for Matt Ziolowski's epic art show of wooden birds, Birds of Pray, Matt Z., as the artist is commonly known, had an array of friends perform to celebrate the achievement. Matt's a musician himself (Mountains and Rainbows, Tyvek), so it was no surprise that the cream of the local underground were there to support. Caitlin Drinkard played some beautiful, strong songs, because that's what she does. And local space jazz supergroup Chatoyant crafted epic space jazz jams. Some old guy also DJ'ed arty records in order to impress his record dude friends.

The real treat of the night was Mountains and Rainbows guitarist Andrew Barrett on acoustic guitar. He played fingerpicked stuff as well as sing-song-y things, often mixing the two. My buddy visiting from Seattle, the writer Dave Segal, compared his set to Sir Richard Bishop and even dropped the f-bomb ("Fahey"). A local musician I'd just met thought his voice close to Devendra Banhart's. I balked (in my head), until I went home and listened to some Soundclouds, and heard some similarities. But this is no freak-folk cupcake.

Barrett is super talented, and the only bummer about his show was that his playing was so quiet that we all heard this one guy way over in the corner near the popcorn maker explain how his taxes would be different if he worked in Japan in excruciating detail because he didn't realize there is no need to yell at the top of your lungs when the gentle folk dude onstage is playing quiet lovely music, and you're not listening but just yelling about your finances to the entire world.

Detroit musicians are notoriously close-knit and supportive of each other. What's crazy is how many of them are so incredibly good, people who've clearly burrowed deep into their crafts for years, but then are basically humble as hell and you know them for months before you realize they built their own synthesizer and made this fabulous record eight years ago in an edition of 200. (The only time you encounter arrogant musicians here, those are the ones who just blare watered down garbage blooozey MC5 covers at the same three bars to the same 30 drunks they all grew up with, but it's usually easy enough to avoid those people.) I can't wait to see Barrett play again, hopefully without any narrated accompaniment on the rigors of international taxation.