Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, The Angelus Sons of Hermann Hall Sunday, February 12
As snow flurries turned to rain Sunday night, Canadian five-piece Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra performed in Dallas for the first time. And they played for almost two hypnotic hours.
Frontman Efrim Menuck was quite chatty early into the set, marveling about the Sons' ballroom but expressing dissatisfaction over the Lone Star beer sign above the bar. Mid-set, Menuck asked the crowd if they had any non-musical questions.Turns out many on the half-full floor did, from serious (Canadian health care, Mitt Romney) to not-so-serious ("Where do pigs come from?"). He was happy to respond to most of them with sincerity and humor.
While Menuck's voice often left much to be desired (especially since he's more of a yelper than a singer), the key balance rested with violinists Jessica Moss and Sophie Trudeau. Locked in perfect harmony over the band's dirge, they made drones feel warm and rising crescendos feel heavenly.
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The band performed some new material, including one song dedicated to Whitney Houston ("Take Away These Early Grave Blues"), as well as favorites like "There Is a Light" and "BlindBlindBlind." The crowd responded strongly, even though each song ran well over the 10-minute mark, with a variety of movements and dynamic shifts.
Earlier, Dallas trio The Angelus played 45 minutes of hymnal slowcore. They were a wise fit, setting the tone for an evening where brevity would have cheapened the vibe.
Personal bias: I was fortunate to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Ridglea ten years ago. Around that time, I'd heard Thee Silver Mt. Zion as well, and was attached to them much more than fellow Godpseed-related project Set Fire to Flames.
Random quote: The best one-liner by Menuck, after the disco ball was turned on for the final song, was his answer to the question, "What inspires you?": "The disco ball."