Saxophones & Zombies: Saxsyndrum’s “Future Circus” Halloween Launch
If you’ve got jazz fever or a dancing itch that simply must be scratched, I highly recommend a large dose of Saxsyndrum’s super-catchy medicine.
Saxsyndrum is the Montreal-based synth-y & saxxy creation of Nick Schofield and Dave Switchenko, and I was lucky enough to go to their album launch/Halloween party at Casa del Popolo last night.
For those not familiar with their tunes, Schofield rocks the drums and synth loops, and Switchenko channels the epic jazz musicians of history with his sax skills. Their songs blend electro and swing styles seamlessly, producing some irresistibly fun music to dance to, especially when you experience it live. You can read more about them in our POP coverage last month.
Casa was a mecca of ghoulish creativity for Halloween—I’d say 9 out of 10 show-goers were in epic costumes. I saw Pikachu, Medusa, a princess complete with a unicorn and a dragon, and a guy with a lit-up cardboard microwave and a drawn-in cat inside on his chest. It seemed everyone brought their A-Game on All Hallow’s Eve.
The first band I saw was Cyrus who, like Saxsyndrum, consisted of two members, and used only a guitar and sax on stage. They were dressed as Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg’s super-suave alter-egos from SNL’s “Dick in a Box” sketch, and their jams, outfits and gift-wrapped crotch-boxes made their set a wholly enjoyable and hilarious one. They even played “Dick in a Box” as their closing song, and I couldn’t have hooted and hollered any louder if I tried. So good.
Next up was Flist, who I wasn’t as into at first, but as I got a few more pints of St. Ambroise in me I started to warm up to them. Flist also featured a sax player, which was the thread tying the bands of the night together, plus a synth surgeon and a glamorous frontman straight out of Rocky Horror. He rocked a veil over his face and tight stockings as pants and topped it off with some pretty impressive pelvic thrusting during the more upbeat rhythms. The synths provided heavy bass drones and the vocals were highly reverberated and bizarre, with the sax making sporadic appearances in songs. It was sweaty and weird—but I found myself pulling some zombie dance moves by the end of it.
Then Saxsyndrum finally made their entrance, with Schofield and Switchenko performing their epic set with pull-over Venom masks on their faces. The energy was insanely high—I didn’t know Schofield would be doling out his beats standing up, and it definitely redefined what it means to be a drummer and a performer in my mind. Rather than sit in the background with a drum set, it was like he dancing with everyone else, and spent more time looking at the crowd than down at his drums. I was stoked on his performance—he triggered loops and other synthesized effects as he pounded the drums, and used a cowbell to keep the rhythm for one of the songs, making Christopher Walken proud and me drunkenly hysterical.
Switchenko displayed godly feats of lung-power with his fast and hard sax playing, all the while getting down onstage. The music is just so fun, it’s impossible to not dance to it. While I’m not familiar with their old stuff, their new album Future Circus is an ultimate party record. My favourite off the album is definitely “Heartstrings.” The listening experience is like cruising on waves of wobbly synth melodies as golden saxophone licks swell to the surface and crescendo—the song is so good it apparently makes me a poet.
I was bummed that I had leave halfway through Saxsyndrum’s set to catch the final metro out of Laurier at 12:49 a.m. on the dot (I literally ran there), since the band didn’t go on until about 12:15. I missed “Heartstrings,” but the last song I heard was another excellent tune, “Lace Up,” whose bubbly sax mantra immediately got everyone’s feet moving.
Seeing Saxsyndrum live was a seriously groovy experience—be on the look out for these guys in the future at a bumpin’ show near you.
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