Seniors, students, and families gathered to watch chamber pop group SHYRE take the stage on November 8 at L’Astral. The juxtaposition of the cafe style seating and the pounding concert atmosphere reflected the band’s traditionally opposed sounds of classical chamber music and upbeat pop. Though pop concerts traditionally involve an energetic crowd jumping up and down to the music, the sit-down setting allowed the audience to take in each of the band’s many elements. Meanwhile, the dramatic, fluorescent stage prompted the enthusiasm of pop while avoiding the stereotypical concert experiences like strangers spilling beer on each other in crowded venues with little seating.
Indie music fans demand a constant reconstruction of music in an attempt to discover a sound that’s never been heard before. Most bands stumble in the process, as the desire to stay current in the industry can result in overly experimental, obscure textures, creating the disingenuous sound that is ‘too indie.’ Upon hearing that SHYRE’s release of their new chamber pop album Atlas Flag featured interpretive dancers, apprehension abounded among fans. However, SHYRE quickly demonstrated that they had discovered nuance where many bands had oversimplified: the sweet, innocent vocals and careful way each note was handled at the release showed the band’s immense reverence for their craft. Their presence led the audience to not only feel the authenticity in their music, but to truly fall in love with the sounds they heard.
However, SHYRE quickly demonstrated that they had discovered nuance where many bands had oversimplified: the sweet, innocent vocals and careful way each note was handled at the release showed the band’s immense reverence for their craft.
The set opened with the beautiful, spacious vocals of Sarah Rossy coupled with her soft piano melodies. Slowly, the string instruments emerged with gentle wisps of classical phrases as the dancers began their performance. However, most of the focus was on the expressions of the musicians; from the eternally smiling drummer to the focused manner with which the string instruments were played, each musician told a story with with their approach to their instruments. Natalie Yergatian – the Schulich School of Music’s first graduate female jazz drummer – told The Daily that their band had “discovered such beauty that is rarely, if ever, spoken of” from touring around Quebec. This beauty captured each audience member in its dream-like essence. These atmospheric influences emerged through the way the band was able to utilize every facet of their instruments – the scratching of the drumstick against the cymbal, sporadically plucked notes from the violins, the singers’ lilting scats – to create natural earth tones that fell softly into place.
Partway through the performance, the horn section from Busty and the Bass took the stage along with McGill’s a cappella group Effusion, in conjunction with increasingly intricate dance choreography, furthering the immersive experience. The smooth vocals, classical chamber instruments, and a jazzy percussion and horn section avoided sounding disjointed together by creating a balance: with softly plucked strings and tender voicings, the instruments played in respect of each other instead of struggling to dominate. Though the stage was completely filled, the complex harmonies created were unifying instead of overpowering. The musicians layered sounds to create a new texture, where jazz, indie, and classical were all able to exist simultaneously.
Partway through the performance, the horn section from Busty and the Bass took the stage along with McGill’s a cappella group Effusion, in conjunction with increasingly intricate dance choreography, furthering the immersive experience.
The title track “Atlas Flag” – which combined dreamy lucid vocals with a pounding drum beat – proved to be a standout of the evening with its multidimensional texture of instruments. Before the song began, Rossy held the audience in thrall with spine-tingling vocals, instilling a sense of tense hope and optimism as she repeated “I see it, I see it now.” As the song ended off with a unified crash, the vibration remained suspended throughout the room, the audience set in momentary awe before erupting into thunderous applause.
SHYRE, with charismatic stage presence, mixed soft, layered tones in conjunction with a bold new approach to music. “A lot of what we do,” Yergatian told The Daily, “is an expression of what we have experienced, reflected on and then forged into our own dreamscape/universe”.It’s these pure elements that demonstrate SHYRE’s masterful understanding of their instruments, allowing them to bend classical genres around sounds as varied as the landscapes by which they were inspired.