DBR & The Mission (Festival page)
DBR & The Mission @ Festival Theatre
7:00pm, Fri 29 Feb 2008
I don’t know the first fucking thing about DBR & The Mission, but – just two pieces into the performance – I was weeping from the imperious rhythmic majesty of it. Now, maybe that’s just a side-effect of my fucked-up and fragile emotional state, but I’ve got a feeling there was more to it than that; they delivered an epiphany, a musical moment that was so damned near transcendence that it begs religious fervor.
But my words are far too uneducated, ill-informed, and blunt to adequately describe it.
The Mission are essentially a string quartet (two electric violins, cello (bliss!) and viola) backed by a rhythm section (drums, bass, keyboards, turntables & beatboxing). Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) himself also plugs along on the electric violin, and – barring the cello (Jessie Reagen, a subject of fawning lust) – all the string chaps had huge banks of guitar pedals with which they modified their strings.
And by “modified”, I mean “reconstructed”. The viola sounded like dirty underwater guitar solos; violins emulated guitars from tinny lead to chunky rhythm. Earl Maneein, in particular, conjured filthy chugs of rock goodness from his violins, which seemed to resonate with the audience that – if I had to guess – had sneered at ROCK for most of their adult lives.
But I think they’re converts now. And I think that the kids that reluctantly attended gained a new-found appreciation for the strings. And maybe that’s is where the attraction to this performance came from; it was a bridge between genres, between generations.
And, truth be told, I didn’t think that DBR was that great a musician; in fact, I’d go as far as to say that he was the least compelling player on the stage. But he had presence, and wrote most of the pieces on offer, and commanded the respect of the band and the audience alike. But I’ll be damned if I regard his solo re-interpretation of “Waltzing Matilda” (used as the second encore) as God’s Gift, as many of the audience did.
But every other piece in the performance more than made up for it. The conventional pieces, the academically constructed pieces – all seemed to deliver passion and rhythm and bloody awesome music and… I wept. And that welling up of emotion is more than you can hope for.