For a band that seems to change names and members as often as they change their socks, there was certainly no hesitation or confusion when Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra hit the stage as The Great American Music Hall.
Are they Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, A Silver Mt. Zion, The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band with Choir or Thee Silver Mountain Reveries? Who cares! What they are is bold, brash, beautiful and blistering. As soon as SMZ hit the stage last night, every single person in the crowd seemed to hang on each note; to absorb every ounce of emotion flung their way. There was no drunken banter during the lower volume lulls – and many a lower volume lull there was – it was as if our very lives hinged upon devouring the songs in their entirety. SMZ is a band that teaches the practice of patience and payoff. The songs are long, repetitive, almost mantra-like at times, the band – performing with 2 violinists, a drummer, a double bassist and a guitarist / lead singer / consistently denied bandleader – seem to lose even themselves within their own paths of flight. We meditate as one and resolve endlessly. The influences are both clear and murky: early 80s punk, 60s folk and traditional, mid 90s post and progressive instrumental, electro, and hardcore. This is a band that defines refusal. Name changes, line-up switches, genre defying, leaderless insurgents from the cobblestone streets of Montreal. But within all this uncertainly lies one of the most commanding live performances, and five of the most certain and determined musicians an audience member could ask for. You can actually relax into the knowledge that this ride leaves no room for indecisiveness. Just sit back, let go and let Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra into your very being. It only stings a bit when the music ends.
Purchase Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s latest release, Kollaps Tradixionales (Constellation) via their website.
Photo Credit: Yannick Grandmont