Scala & Kolacny Brothers at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Scala & Kolacny Brothers wowed the crowd at 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire last night with their incredibly bizarre and hauntingly beautiful renditions of acclaimed rock and indie songs. This band seems limitless, and very versatile; they have tackled a wide range of music, from Metallica to Alanis Morissette. Last night, Rammstein’s Mutter and Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People were in the mix, which was just so thrilling. The choir were able to add something extra to the songs, changing them completely, whilst keeping the emotional wrench and grind that those songs are famous for; the female chorus definitely added an eerie quality to the songs – and just when you thought Manson and Rammstein couldn’t get any creepier!
Scala & Kolacny Brothers are an indie-rock choir, comprised of Steven and Stijn, and Scala – their all-girl choir. Steven plays the piano whilst Stijn conducts the choir. The brothers usually work with 30-40 singers aged 16-26 at a time.
Last year was a big year for Scala & Kolacny Brothers; they conquered the United States and Canada with a major tour. This year boasts equal success and they are on the road again. The crowd was surprisingly diverse, a mix of classical music lovers, (after all, Scala & Kolacny Brothers are rooted in classical and are both classically trained) and younger generation fans – rock lovers who we suppose were curious to see how a choir could possibly handle the lyrics of “angst-ridden” musicians such as U2 and Radiohead, amongst others!
Radiohead’s moving ballad, Creep, was the catalyst of their success. Director David Fincher approached the band with a request to use their song in his upcoming movie, The Social Network. Their cover of Creep was perfectly suited to the trailer of the movie – suddenly their music was accessible to the masses, bringing them a great deal of attention. However, only two thirds of the hall last night was full, which was a huge surprise.
Before the show, the stage was flooded with red lights, and on the left stood a black piano. When the choir appeared, they were wearing black witch-like outfits. We were amazed when several members of the choir started dancing; the music was intense and dramatic, a deep almost demonic drum drone. Short films were projected in the background that were very well made and had sinister undertones. The imagery used was very “dark” imagery, associated with the macabre: clowns, wolves, skeletons, ghosts and a girl in black in a deserted field lost and alone; it was moving and almost sad. The performance felt like a huge installation, the choir was in formations for a lot of the show, moving seamlessly, as though floating.
The piano was often the sole accompaniment to the voices. However, the most exciting songs incorporated drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers; the trace-like minimal beats built a heavy atmosphere, and the songs were beautifully sung in harmony to the music.
Rock and indie music works well for this choir, because the hearts of the songs are often very black and emotional, and the female voices of the choir add a certain melancholic touch. Scala & Kolacny Brothers brought new dimensions to the songs – their version of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters could be classical music! Other influences include the dark electro-pop of Goldfrapp and Depeche Mode, and the brooding mini-symphonies of Massive Attack.
Meanwhile, their live act has evolved into a multimedia experience that features the aforementioned custom-made video projections, animation, light shows and electronic sampling. The girls’ headset mics allowed them to move freely onstage.
The evening was one of many surprises, it was a fantastic performance and the brothers spoke warmly to the audience throughout the show so it felt very intimate. All in all: a unique show, orchestrated perfectly.
For further information on Scala & Kolacny Brothers visit their site here.
Listen to Scala & Kolacny Brothers cover of Creep (Radiohead) here: