Mad Music Scientists from Montreal
I was set to cover Montreal minimalist art rock group, Suuns, directly after the epic Colombian dance party that was De Juepuchas’ live show. So, covered in confetti and still trying to exorcise any remaining images of dancing bananas from my head, I headed to club Nuvola. I was excited about seeing these guys live, and figured a little bit of brooding art rock would help with my post-Juepuchas hangover.
Originally, Suuns was a product of a random jam session by vocalist/guitarist Ben Shemie and guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush. After messing around and piecing together a few songs, they decided to enlist drummer Liam O’Neill and bassist/keyboardist Max Henry to start a real, big boy band. How the guys successfully moved from jamming to creating impressively unique, emotive, and hypnotizing experimental rock music, I couldn’t say.
But one could guess it had something to do with their group dynamic. No one in Suuns is interested in showboating, and the cohesion and tranquility that brings is vital to what the band is able to achieve musically. Some of their songs seem like mathematical equations in which the band members have to carefully figure out what to plug in and where.
Beautiful as it may be, this formula does make for a fairly somber live show — no one talked and there was no headbanging, much less dancing bananas. But anything more than the crisp ringing of instruments would only have served as a cumbersome distraction.
The show ran smoothly, save for a bit of wonky sound mixing. Sadly, Shemie’s tender and haunting vocals were all but lost during standout numbers like “Up Past the Nursery” and “PIE IX” — songs in which the odd vocals are very much key.
Despite the vocal mixing issues, it was still evident that Suuns are a solid live band. Hearing the simultaneously catchy and eerie tunes live took the experience of listening to a different, poignant level.
Audience reaction was next to impossible to read. They were either also in a coma of ethereal bliss or bored out of their minds. At that point I was just happy the bananas were finally gone.