Concert Reviews

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Big Brave at Lee’s Palace

The Montreal trio Big Brave opened for Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra at Lee’s Palace, and they did so in a highly unconventional way. With large passages of silence, sudden explosions of amplifier torture, gum chewing, full on screaming and the odd off-timed drum hit, Big Brave were a bit of an enigma. They didn’t make much sense, and yet they made complete sense. They were artistic musicians, and yet they performed with their tongues in their cheeks. Are they always this contrastive? I haven’t a clue, but for now I’ll take what I saw with a side of potato wedges.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, the music was interesting for the most part. With some parts being comedic (whether that was intentional or not, again, I haven’t a clue), including long pauses between parts within the same song, we all seemed to have fun. I’m not sure if the droning guitars gave off the effect intended, as many of us were wide eyed rather than getting lost within the cacophony. I think, with the loud music and the funny personas, Big Brave were shy of being entirely rock n’ roll, and it was enough to make a noticeable impression. Had they gone the whole way, Big Brave may have been entirely effective and not just occasionally fun. It isn’t easy to open for Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, though, and their efforts are worth taking into account. They need not to be contained anymore, though: Big Brave need to be bigger and braver.

Efrim Menuck is one of this generation’s great musical activists. He does not only speak his mind: He knocks his opposers down flat. With an arsenal of f-bombs, Menuck spoke much about politics at Lee’s Palace, and there was a pinch of anger that could be felt from his voice. He spoke about Stephen Harper and not only bashed his motivations but claimed that any prime minister that would follow would only do a poor job themselves; We will only survive once we stop electing prime ministers. Of course, it’s no secret that Menuck and his crew are verbal about their stances. With an album titled “Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything”, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra‘s quest to open minds and shove oppression has yet to end.

With a v-shaped formation–the drum kit at the very point– the band fanned out to the audience with the violinists at the front of the stage. Everyone was visible, the entire band performed for each other and for us, and the sound was spectacular. There was a lot of noise (granted, their music does play with sonic aggression), but the set wasn’t deafening. The violins were clear, the guitar tones rippled like a lake in the rain and the bass was as thick as plasticine. The entire band’s chanting vocals captured the voices we all wished to project onto the stage, as they weren’t show-stopping belts, but instead humbling ponders. The unity on stage is what instilled our faith in their messages. When Menuck talked about having to worry about whether or not he will eat some days, we felt it. We often forget that even some of the most important musicians of our time are struggling in the same ways we do, and if there was any concert that brought all of us financial crisis survivors together, it was this one. It was nice to get lost in layers of ambient noise, especially when I felt at home with the riot leaders on stage: There was no way they’d let us be harmed (not while they were there to do anything about it).


About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.