Brasstronaut w/ The Zolas @ St James Hall -- 05/06/10

What was it I said yesterday? That I've had the good fortune of seeing a fair number of shows this year where both/all acts have been great? Well, that continued last night at St James Hall.
Before I go on, though, a mini rant. I love St James Hall. I think it is an awesome place for a show... except for the fact that just about every time I've been there, it's turned really hot in the place. Maybe cos every one I've seen there has been sold out (or close to it) and it's not that big of a hall... but still, they really need to spring for some sort of cooling device.

Anyway! It was a nice early show (am I getting lame for liking the early-ending shows more and more?) so The Zolas hit the stage just before 8, and just wow, they tore the place down. They started off, of course, with "You're Too Cool" and went on to go through most of their album, Tic Toc Tic. As high energy and catchy as the record is, their live show is even more so. Songs like "No Talking" and "Marlaina Kamikaze" sound phenomenal live, and while all four of them on stage had a fantastic energy, Zach is a great & charismatic front man. For one song he hopped off stage and played most of it amongst the crowd up at the front, another he sat with Tom at the keyboard, and throughout the whole show he was just a ball of energy. They threw in a new song, "Guest", which is named for what Zach calls the worst rhyme ever (Guess/Guest, I think it was)... though is a great song despite it. The wrapped up with "Cab Driver", a song that somehow managed to top the rest of the set with its intensity, and a great way to end. And the crowd was just eating them up with every song. I am sure people were there for The Zolas as much as Brasstronaut, and those who weren't were no doubt won over.
Also, Hank Henry Alcock-White was with them on bass again, and I am now convinced that he has the absolute driest sense of humour.

You're Too Cool, Collapse, Guest, Body Ash, No Talking, Marionettes, These Days, Marlaina Kamikaze, Queen of Relax, Cab Driver.

After a quick turnaround, Brasstronaut came out, in one of the coolest ways a band can. As everyone was early anticipating them, all attention on the stage, faint horns started... but no one was on stage. Everyone soon realized where they were, though. Coming in through the back of the hall, forming a procession through the crowd up to the stage, with all the members of Brasstronaut as well as song extra help with the horns and such. They all crammed on the stage, almost a dozen of them, for the first song. They went into "Six Toes" next, as half the people left leaving only the main members up there to absolutely blow the crowds collective minds. They, too, are almost as (if not moreso) amazing than their album, which is incredibly rich and layered. One of my favourites on Mt. Chimera is "Hearts Trompet", and that was definitely one of the highlights of the show.
There was also a giant sheet acting as a projection screen behind them, which was really cool. Some songs there were video clips, some were just abstract designs, but it really added to the show. For "Insects", the last song of their main set, the screen alternated between venus fly traps and what looked like a 50's science film reel, and was superb emphasis to the dark and haunting mood of the song. For the encore, it really turned into a crazy multimedia experience, from the videos on screen, the lasers and lights all around the hall mimicking stars to the bubble wands being handed out and the monk manning a spotlight shining it all over the hall.
They also had the coolest thing, which I initially thought was a Space-Clarinet, but it turns out it is an EWI (or Electric Wind Instrument). It both looked and sounded awesome.
[and I almost forgot, in the middle of the show, they announced that one of the members, John Walsh (I believe) had just become a new father earlier that day, so much congratulations are in order]
In all, it was a pretty incredible spectacle, with excellent music to back it up, and even though I love seeing bands in smaller, more intimate venues, it is now one of my musical goals in life to see them play the Orpheum. That just seems like it would be the perfect setting for them.