Thee Silver Mount Zion

Thee Silver Mount Zion tour with Stephen Harper

Montreal's Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra chose not to allow media cameras into their Lee's Palace show on Friday — a questionable decision given that, as I predicted, many fans successfully smuggled in cameras, but not a particularly surprising one. Silver Mt. Zion is an offshoot of notoriously media unfriendly Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

The worst part about the photo ban is that I can't show you the first thing fans saw upon entering: a framed, up-side-down photo of Stephen Harper mounted above the stage (I must say, Harper looks better inverted than right side up).

Silver Mount Zion, currently a quintet, appeared just after eleven. Leader Efrim Menuck added to the light-hearted political flavour offered by Harper's visage, greeting the crowd by stating sympathetically that "base humour" is the only response possible to Toronto's mayor. Beginning with a new song, the bluesy "Take Away These Early Graves," Menuck and violinist Jessica Moss harmonized over rock riffs and strings with punky yells, epitomizing the band's take on post-rock: a sound that pulls from folk, punk, neoclassical, and blues.

Musical highlights were Godspeed-reminiscent orchestral climaxes, tranquil moments of violinists Moss and Sophie Trudeau's sweetly feminine vocal harmonies, and Menuck's loud, discordant voice singing mostly indiscernible lyrics.

Between songs, Menuck engaged the crowd with question periods that mostly produced asinine questions — "is she (Moss or Trudeau) single?" — but did bring the revelation that the band is not working on a full-length at the moment. Menuck quipped more about mayor Ford, Canadian mayors past, and of course, Harper.

The political theme continued to the set's end. "They say we get the leaders we deserve" Menuck said, gesturing toward Harper, "our leaders don't care if we live or die." The band began "What We Loved Was Not Enough," another new song and a gorgeous, melodic composition which made me feel lucky to be in attendance.

Judging by various lewd comments and conversations around me, I doubt some of the post-rock hungry fans in the audience were impressed with the night's political slant, but it struck a chord with me. Having spent my fair share of time thinking about the current state of Canada and what I sometimes view as the dark path our country is taking, I hope the band's message reached other members of the crowd in the same way it did me.

Back to the music — check YouTube for the next week or two if you'd like some visuals (and audio) from Friday. Media ban or not, I saw at least one fan film the set.

Set list

Take Away These Early Grave Blues
Blind Blind Blind
13 Blues for Thirteen Moons
There is a Light
The State Itself Did Not Agree
Horses in the Sky
What We Loved Was Not Enough



Photo of a previous Thee Silver Mount Zion show by Jason Persse

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