Union Chapel, Islington, London – June 7th 2011
Fifteen women dressed in black, a conductor, a pianist and a Gothic church. As gigs go, Scala & Kolacny Brothers at the Union Chapel was up there for odd, but also for memorable. The concept is this: an all-female Belgian led by brothers Stijn and Steven Kolacny gallop through a slew of covers as well as their own original material. Their sound is haunting and ethereal, with just the piano and their voices intermingling but the result is truly unique…
The Kolacny brothers are jaunty hosts, sparring good-naturedly with each other between songs. Their arrangements and also their original songs bring the story to life but as Stijn points out, it’s the collective female voices that are the stars of the show. The choir is parred down for its first visit to English soil – they can number up to 200 – but the 15 who’ve travelled give it their all and it’s enough to mesmerise most in attendance. Their combined voices cut to your soul – if you’re thinking that choirs mean Glee, bin that image right now.
The choir give unique reworkings to a parade of well-known rock songs new and old – Radiohead’s Creep, Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody and Prince’s When Doves Cry among them, while original videos play on a screen above them. They stay on the stage mainly, but walk among the congregation singing too, mics wired to their cheeks as all around them heads turn. This is no ordinary setting and this is no ordinary gig.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers have cast their spell around the globe, performing recently at SXSW and Coachella festivals in the US as well as selling over 200,000 records in Europe. If you get a chance to see them, it’s quite an experience.
Scala & Kolacny Brothers album Scala & Kolacny Brothers is out now.