Concert Review: Thee Silver Mt Zion, August 8, Lee’s Palace


Midway through Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s set at Lee’s Palace, vocalist/guitarist Efrim Menuck paused to do something not often seen at concerts – he asked the crowd if there were any questions.

This, of course opened things up for all sorts of pointless and strange things to be shouted out, but the one that first caught Menuck’s attention (and to which he took some exception) was when someone shouted out, “Why are you so negative?” This came after earlier statements from Menuck about our “terrible fucking Prime Minister” Stephen Harper, how he openly says what the ones who came before him only said privately and how the next one and the one after that would also be terrible and “how we work so hard for fucking nothing.” Granted, those statements could seem negative, but to me, Menuck seems like a pretty positive guy. Sure, he can get angry at times and he is talking about a lot of the negative things in our world but the fact that he’s talking about it is a positive thing. To quote Howard Beale in Network, “first you’ve got to get mad.” History tells us that when enough people get mad about things, they can effect change, so in that sense, it was all quite positive. Furthermore, a guy whose first words to the audience before the band has played a note are, “We’re happy to be here and we hope you’re happy too” does not sound like an overly negative guy. Menuck’s response to the question was to ask how “negative guy’s” day was. When he conceded that it had been “shitty,” Menuck added, “You’re a bummer, dude.”

One of the other, odder questions to emerge from the impromptu question period was if the band took part in the “beep test” during high school. Menuck had no idea what this was (nor did I) and he pressed on for further information. When it was explained that it was a fitness test, he noted that it was stuff like that that made him drop out of school and he managed to make a silly throwaway question somewhat relevant. “Is that why you’re all here? Because you failed the beep test? Otherwise you’d be at the Tori Amos show at the Real Estate Dome.”

Politics aside, (though with a band like Thee Silver Mt Zion it’s not that easy to just separate them from their politics) the band sounded incredible. Playing songs off of their latest Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything, they ran the gamut from the heavy post rock vibe of opener “Fuck Off Get Free” (described by Menuck as being about civic pride) to the gentle, almost lullabye of encore “Little Ones Run.”

They finished off their main set (before returning for the aforementioned encore) with “What We Loved Was Not Enough,” a song which might help to back up those who see Menuck as being negative with it’s apocalyptic lyrics such as “the world itself consumed” and “all our children gonna die.” It is definitely dark stuff, but as Menuck explained in an interview with The Rumpus, maybe there’s some hope amid all of the doom:

“If you’re in the future and you’re going to look back and say “what we loved isn’t enough,” then maybe the point right now is to find how what we love is actually enough to change things. That sounds hopelessly idealistic, but maybe there’s some truth in that.”

Maybe there is. And maybe more bands should incorporate question period into their shows.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts