Saturday, March 01, 2008

After the long drive – Olympic Symphonium at Casa de Popolo

The boys from The Olympic Symphonium rolled into Montréal on Thursday night to play at Casa de Popolo. Road-weary and pensive, they put on a great set between Tyler Messick’s loud and layered pop and the whimsical and eclectic Share.

The Olympic Symphonium is a trio of prolific maritime players: Kyle Cunjak and Nick Cobham (both of whom also play in Share), and Graeme Walker (of Grand Theft Bus). More a project than a band, each member writes their own tunes and then arranges them with the other players. The visual effect is a game of musical chairs with players trading off instruments and lead vocal between each song, and the remaining two members offering up a mix of whistles, harmonies and backing parts. The sonic result is some cross between Bonnie Prince Billy, Calexico, and doo-wop, all at a whisper.

The OS played a mix of songs off their first album, songs off their upcoming album, and a great cover of “No More Workhorse Blues.” There can be little criticism of this trio’s musicianship. They play sparingly and thoughtfully, and the sound is a sum a little greater than its parts. They do not excite but they do calm and impress. I can’t say that the crowd was totally taken by the act. Their set instead seemed like something of a quiet interlude or respite. A break on the side of the road during a long frantic drive. But maybe that’s what they needed and we wanted.

(The great photo above is by Sarah Brideau. Check out her site for some great work.)

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