In his bio, Silas Durocher says that he aims to combine “classical music with funk and rock n’ roll” to create “music for the head, the heart, and the hips.” It’s a noble pursuit, and on his new debut album, Thesis Statement, he’s largely successful.
The young songwriter weaves together astoundingly complex compositions that call to mind everyone from Igor Stravinsky to Frank Zappa and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s a mix heady enough to keep the most seasoned music geek guessing, and yet the disk also maintains a Jack Johnson mellowness appropriate for lazy Sunday afternoons around the house.
Durocher, an Asheville transplant, recently celebrated the release of the disk with a show at BoBo Gallery as part of the venue’s new Lexington Avenue Living Room series. Organized by Durocher and fellow local songwriters Oso Rey and Pierce Edens, the shows typically consist of solo sets by each songwriter as well as collaborations and a revolving cast of guests.
Durocher started his set alone, opening with “Every Damn Time” from the new album. But in this manifestation, the song was barely recognizable. Gone were the intricate layers of cello and clarinet so key to his sound, the drive of drums and bass so prominent on his record. Durocher made a valiant effort to fill in the blanks with his jaw-droppingly precise guitar licks, but there was definitely something lacking in the track’s transformation from a big band arrangement to an acoustic solo song. To do justice to the dynamic songs on Thesis Statement, Durocher was in need of some help.
Thankfully, he soon got it in the form of Franklin Keel, who joined Durocher on cello. Durocher introduced Keel, a member of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, as good enough to “count as two accompaniments.” And rightly so. Durocher said he had just met Keel, but you’d never know it from the obvious chemistry between these two talented musicians. For the next several songs, including the stand out Durocher originals “I Always Watch” and “Devil on my Shoulder,” Keel somehow managed to sound like he was playing three instruments at once; in addition to the deep resonance of his bowed cello, he summoned the rhythm of a stand up bass and the screechy wailing of a fiddle.
The new duo soon became a trio as Rey hopped on the drum set. The music then took a funkier turn, Rey’s solid backbeats adding additional life to a couple of hip-hop influenced tracks that allowed Durocher to let out his inner Anthony Kiedis. The group ended the set with a new song that Durocher introduced as “totally unrehearsed.” The raw energy was there though, and the crowd returned Durocher’s closing refrain of “everything’s OK when the music plays” with a loud show of approval.