Soon after kicking off a nearly three-hour long improv set at Honey in Minneapolis, No Bird Sing frontman Joe Horton had an important announcement: “I’ve decided to drop the name Eric Blair. It’s confusing. Just call me Joe.”
For background’s sake, Horton has used the moniker Eric Blair (George Orwell’s birth name) sporadically in interviews and shows, but reverts to his real name in other situations, creating quite the hip-hop identity crisis. Once the dust settled on this groundbreaking news, the band continued on their improvisational odyssey. By “the band”, I mean Horton, Graham O’Brien and Bobby Mulrennan of No Bird Sing, Casey O’Brien of Face Candy, and Peter Pisano of Peter Wolf Crier.
The group would be joined by multiple guests throughout the night, including Adam Svec, Chastity Brown, Crescent Moon, and PWC drummer Brian Moen. The highlights of the night would come at random moments, sort of like lightning bolts, which is improv at its finest, I suppose. Some of the best musical creations are roughly summarized below:
- After Horton and Crescent Moon had been locked into a rap conversation for a while, Pisano turned into a DJ and cut Moon’s line “turn it around!” into a legitimate rap beat while Horton picked up steam. The most intense moments of the night were when Horton and Moon would verbally spar, because the musicians always decided to add an intense pattern to the madness.
- During one of the few breaks, Horton noted that he had been playing video games and eating hummus all day, and expressed dismay that he couldn’t be like his childhood hip-hop idols, who were “probably having sex and drinking champagne before shows.” Pisano responded, “All of my favorite rappers were eating hummus.”
- In the middle of a quieter jam, Pisano started singing the words to “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band. It was quite a moment to witness everyone gleefully piling on their own interpretation, and the avant-garde cover concluded with Moon cracking up everyone with a line about “pages stuck together”.
- During the back half of the show, Horton turned to Casey O’Brien and demanded “Spaghetti”. O’Brien then broke out the guitar progression to “Lose Yourself”, and Horton freestyled for a bit about some forgotten subject.
Alas, as the hours turned to A.M. I decided to pack up with my friends and head out, prompting Horton to call me out as I left. It’s just the price I paid for deserting the beautiful madness that was occurring in the Honey’s basement. All in all, I had a blast, and although my buddies and I were hoping to hear a couple NBS songs thrown into the jam, it was a great time.
“Surely you can’t be serious?” you may ask. I am serious. And don’t call me Eric.*Footnote: All 80’s movie references may or may not go over your head.