If one wishes to experience the closest thing to a perfect night of musical entertainment, they need only buy a ticket to the next Silver Mt. Zion show in their area. Luckily for me, I only live about an hour from where they played on July 31. For the price of a fast food meal, I was able to see the Montreal-based rock orchestra and self-proclaimed “Tra La La Band” shock and amaze yet again with their substantive and super creative mini-symphonies.
While standing on line for an inordinate amount of time on an almost impossibly hot day was also in the cards for the July 31 performance, every uncomfortable sensation I was experiencing just disappeared when they launched into a short but wonderful set with their opener, “God Bless Our Dead Marines” off of their latest album Horses In The Sky. The late start and the extreme heat circulating through the heavily populated sanctuary portion of the First Unitarian Church made many of the concertgoers surly and morose, however, when this band was in full stride, there didn’t seem to be a person in the place that wasn’t looking on dotingly as they laid on their brand of orchestral rock and roll.
I always enjoy going to shows at the actual church portion of the famous Philly venue, because you get to sit down. I was glad the promoter had the foresight to book the band in such a low-key environment. It was a truly surreal experience to see the mixture of indie rock scene kids and college professor types sitting side by side on uncomfortable yet adequate church pews to see a rock and roll show. It is only with the mature yet accessible pieces of The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra La La Band that both factions are able to come together in the same forum and be equally inspired.
After a few old favorites such as “Take These Hands And Throw Them In The River,” the band played two new and unbelievable pieces. It made this veteran fan more eager than ever for the next record (of which, unfortunately, there was no mention). After giving the crowd a taste of things to come, they wrapped things up in a fashion which I thought was a tad early, due to what was presumably extreme heat.
Opening for Zion was Black Ox Orkestar. Yes, that’s right, Orkestar, it’s not a typo. The band has a fascinating theme of Jewish history and culture running through their repertoire, a theme that is articulated through the all-Yiddish vocal of the lead singer, who also happens to drum for Zion. In fact, the band is comprised almost entirely of Zion alumni. After Black Ox… finished an incredible set of their own, Zion front man, Efrem Menuck thanked the crowd for their patience and apologized for the discomfort as they set the tone for an evening I shall never forget. There should be more bands like this.