BLACK OX ORKESTAR with Eric Chenaux and Martin Arnold at Sneaky Dee's, September 5. Tickets: pwyc. Attendance: 90. Rating: NNNN
It may take a while before you see Black Ox Orkestar on the Warped Tour and grabbing moon men alongside Andre 3000, but if the jam-packed Sneaky Dee's was any indication, it's only a matter of time.
Call it alt-klezmer - traditional Jewish music played by a group who probably grew up on modern rock. It may seem odd, but considering that bassist Thierry is in avant alt band Godspeed You! Black Emperor, it almost seems a logical step. From the moment they took the stage, the only word and emotion going through me was "intense."
I could see I wasn't alone. The combination of double bass and violin was haunting, so engaging, in fact, that it was a long time before I even noticed that the lyrics were in Yiddish.
By show's end, I felt I'd been on a journey to another time and place, and come through it with an understanding of another culture. To create that level of engagement and impart such knowledge singing in a foreign language is no easy feat, yet the band pulled it off with mind-boggling ease.
Equally impressive were openers Eric Chenaux and Martin Arnold , who took up the challenge of sending the audience to places they'd never been.
Their music is like trip-country, painting a picture of the South that might have been if the Civil War had gone the other way. Arnold's banjo playing perfectly complemented Chenaux's angular guitar picking.
Chenaux's Will Oldham-meets-Jeff Buckley vocals rounded out the combo's ahead-of-its-time sound.