Making Room for the Bassoon

Indie/opera outfit Sidney York had their beginnings as a long distance collaboration between opera singer Brandy Sidoryk and bassoonist Krista Wadelet, clashing two very different worlds. When I walked into the citrus-lit venue Divan Orange last night for their show, I really didn’t know what to expect.

Local pop-rock-dance-punk band The Hydrothermal Vents opened the show, the group made up of a guitarist, bassist and an iPod drummer. Maybe I’m a snob, but I couldn’t help but be a tad turned off by the iMember. It’s not easy to find a good drummer though, and after bassist Tessa Katuzman made a joke about it, I was able to shrug it off and enjoy the music, especially their closer “Neptune.” In general, however, I wasn’t overly impressed by the performance. But when headliner Sidney York took the stage, my mood was immediately lifted.

Right off the bat, Sidney York was much more rock n’ roll than their music videos had led me to believe. It’s their variety that impressed me so much. Besides the typical guitar, bass, keyboard, and drums, the set included a ukulele, a tuba and, of course, the bassoon. The bassoon added a layer of depth to the sound that I can safely say was totally new to me. Of course I’m well-acquainted with ska’s take on wind instruments, but their presence in what I can only call an indie pop band was different and exciting. I thought perhaps the variety might overwhelm the performance, but the different sounds were layered extremely professionally.

I had also been slightly apprehensive in regards to Sidoryk’s advertised opera background. Combined with the unusual instruments, there definitely was potential for an intensity that, although artistic, might be an uncomfortable match for a couple beers. But there was no need to worry. The only giveaway of her opera roots was the astounding quality of her voice. She sang with a sharp clarity and gave each song an instant essence of fun. Nothing was ever over-sung, and while her voice could have stolen the show, the quality of the rest of the band made sure it didn’t.

The infectious stage presence shared by all performers made the music increasingly danceable as the set went on. Sidoryk and Wadelet had great chemistry and played off each other well, but they weren’t the only ones—every band member was completely present and a vital part of the package. Eventually it was just too irresistible and a couple tables had to be pushed aside for the few free spirits who simply needed to dance (I may or may not have been one of them).

Unfortunately, Sidoryk informed the audience that their van had been broken into and robbed as they were setting up that night, and I really hope that doesn’t stop them from coming back to Montreal. I would certainly welcome the Calgary band back into our beloved scene.

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