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GURNETT: 'That 1 Guy' a real one-of-a-kind

Many musicians have built their own instruments. But few can say they built a completely original instrument the likes of which no one has seen before. That’s just what That 1 Guy has done. 

On Wednesday, February 28th, That 1 Guy (otherwise known as Michael Silverman) brought his one-of-a-kind instrument, The Magic Pipe, to Mohawk Place. The Magic Pipe consists of a thick metal pole covered in drum triggers. A single bass string runs down the down the front and a moveable arm has what I think were two cello strings. There were also about a dozen foot pedals, a snare trigger and three projection screens behind everything. The images on the screens were often manipulated by the foot pedals, sound waves and triggers generated during the performance.
Green Schwinn opened by playing a set across from the bar as That 1 Guy set up his elaborate contraption onstage. Performing unmiked, vocalist John Blake and guitarist Andy Othman delivered an entertaining, quirky set that included a wonderful cover of Devo’s “Girl You Want.” Their special brand of Tiny Tim-inspired musical comedy (they even covered “Tiptoe Through the Tulips”) was a fitting beginning to the merry night ahead.

That 1 Guy describes his music as “weirdo music played for weirdo people.” It was the kind of show where the scent of patchouli hung in the air and a George R.R. Martin book sat next to someone’s glass on the bar. That 1 Guy is an act all his own, but if I had to choose who he reminds me of, I could hear some of Soul Coughing’s Mike Doughty in his deep, hearty baritone. The bass notes of the Magic Pipe had a thick, warm acoustic sounds that was made for giant PA speakers. That 1 Guy also shares Soul Coughing’s love of the artistic and absurd, performing one song on a cowboy boot with a ¼ cable plugged into it. He played fan favorites like “It Packs a Wallop” and “Butt Machine,” as well as an excellent cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.”

But That 1 Guy is so much more than a great sound; he is a one-man lesson in performance art. His sense of humor falls somewhere between Weird Al Yankovic and Frank Zappa. He played the Super Mario Brothers theme in sync with the first level projected on the screens behind him. He brought out a sock puppet more than once. He covered Cameo’s 80’s hit “Word Up.” Days after the performance, I still can’t tell you exactly what I saw, but I can tell you that it was a brilliant performance by an artist who puts an amazing amount of thought and creativity into everything he does. And he truly loves what he does, which is apparent after just a few minutes watching him perform.

The next time That 1 Guy comes to Buffalo, go see him. Art like this needs to be experienced firsthand. Any description of it will be imperfect; you really do need to see it for yourself.

Ryan Gurnett has a B.S. in Music Industry from The College of St Rose. He has worked as a studio engineer, live sound engineer, producer and sound editor and has been a musician for 25 years. He is currently the bassist for The Lady, or the Tiger?. Email him at SirWilliamIdol@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @SirWilliamIdol.

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