Earache Gig: A Silver Mount Zion, Scala

In an effort to try and get out more and see more gigs, I crawled out of my jetlag to go and see A Silver Mount Zion And Tralala Orchestra at the Scala on Monday with Jimson and his neighbour, all three of us ex-members of The Lurking Fear some-conquering pub quiz team. We met in Big Chill, a bad name for a not-so-bad bar next to the old Kings Cross Thameslink Station, which was clearly full of people about to go to the gig, many sporting the mismatched hairy beard and parted pair beloved by certain segments of the current hipster tangerine.

I’d not heard of this lot before, but their connections with Godspeed You Black Emperor got me interested, as I like GYBE’s f# a# oo a lot, with it’s shifting scenes and tape-recorded street nutters. So it wasn’t a surprise to see the stage setup include a cello and a double bass. The support, Owl Service, were just finishing up when we got in, and they sounded very drifty. But the main event got underway as the headliners built their stepladder up into A Million Died To Make This Sound, which had a repeating vocal and a fantastic cyclic bass with sternum-poking belts from the amp’d double bass. I like bass.

Each song lasting 10 minutes or more makes for a short playlist, but the slow build-up and breakdown of each ensured plenty of variation. As well as the bass and cello, two violins, two guitars and drums gave a rich minestrone sound. The gig soon warmed up, despite the small venue size and high ceilings, but no sooner had I taken my jacket off than they switched on the industrial wind machines at the side, which then blew cold air right down my earhole. I couldn’t avoid it, and eventually had to retreat to the side to avoid the frigid blast. The double bass couldn’t do it, but the breeze did – give me an earache.

I liked the sound, the complexity, the background vocals, and the melodies and evolution. I can’t say I much cared for the main guy’s voice, too caprine for my tastes, but there you go. After the gig, we spent a pleasant Tube-ride home examining the handed-out gig flyers, discussing the shortcomings of the bands if we knew them, or the shortcomings of the name of we didn’t. More gigs please.

Click on for a review by James, who is much better qualified to talk of these things: Punks got the loveliest dreams: A Silver Mount Zion, Scala « Both bars on