Truckee River blues

Man the Clap

The sound of one man clapping: From left, Travis Axe, Pete Barnato, Spencer Griffith (on skateboard) and Adam Carpenter.

The sound of one man clapping: From left, Travis Axe, Pete Barnato, Spencer Griffith (on skateboard) and Adam Carpenter.

Photo By David Robert

Take a shot glass, throw in some whiskey, add a bit of funk, blues, folk and rock and slam it to the back of your throat and you’ve got Man the Clap, a band with an eclectic aftertaste that gives its fans musical hangovers capable of cracking concrete.

Their show at the Studio on 4th began with “Dirty Blues,” a 13-minute overdriven blues song about everyone’s favorite piston-pushing pastime—sex. After a minute of heavy blues intro, singer and guitarist Pete Barnato opened his mouth and out poured a voice so muddy it could’ve been dredged up from the bottom of the Mississippi.

“I’m a jackhammer baby, I’m gonna pound,” Barnato sings. “I’m gonna pound you so hard we break on through the ground.”

Guitarist and vocalist Travis Axe chimes in with his own backup melody, and together they deliver a see-saw of powerful solos and crunchy chord progressions. Adam Carpenter on bass and Spencer Griffith on drums fill in the dissenting space with a hypnotic rhythm that makes these guys sound a lot older than they look. It’s a characteristic of the band evident throughout their set.

“We can go from blues to funk to reggae in one song,” says Barnato. “We think we have something that’s really special and different.”

The band transitions into the next song with a funky undertone. It’s the beginning of a new sound in a musical kaleidoscope that makes up a play list as unique as the band.

Every member of Man the Clap has his own musical taste and background that accents one another perfectly.

“I like to think of our band as post-modern—we pull music from the past, from different backgrounds and change it into something that people haven’t seen or heard before,” Griffith says.

Axe sums up the band in terms of genre. “When people ask what our genre of music is, I don’t like to give an answer. We’ll play and let you define it, and if it sounds good, we’ll play it again.”

Griffith explains the sound of the band as “chaos with structure.”

“We want people to hear us play and have their brains shit out their ass,” says Carpenter.

Man the Clap’s surgical-like transitions between songs seem to draw in more and more listeners as the show goes on. Between songs, Man the Clap fills a layer of transitional frosting that keeps the crowd fixated on the stage, empty glasses in hand.

“If you’re sitting at the bar and not paying attention, the transitions between each song are bound to make you turn around and say, ‘What the fuck?'” says Griffith.

Toward the end of the show, the band trades off various solos and shows their depth of musical expertise.

Carpenter is a musical Swiss army knife, bouncing between bass, saxophone and piano.

Griffith plays his second solo of the night, after playing his first with the opening band, Reverb Junkies.

So what is the sound of one man clapping?

Man the Clap.

There’s your answer.