If you haven’t been to the newly renovated Cultch for a concert yet, it’s a bit different. The Books’ show was a theatre experience first and foremost. You had to buy your tickets from the box office rather than from a local record store, there were no opening acts and no photography, and the 8 p.m. time listed wasn’t when the doors were opened—it was when the show was actually supposed to start. While checking tickets, a nice man told concertgoers “75 minutes. No intermission.” There are a lot of benefits to this attitude (smoked salmon and finger desserts were provided at the end of the performance. What was the last concert you went to where that happened?), and there are some downsides. If you happen to plan on seeing anyone at the Cultch, though, you may want to be prepared for their different style of doing things.
The Books were well suited to the venue. The duo’s experimental folk music provided the soundtrack to a series of videos which included found footage on hypnotherapy, vintage shots of the founding members of the Mormon Church taking off their hats and hunters emulating the sounds of geese. The sounds from the footage blended beautifully with the Books’ music—they were clearly very practiced with no room for improvisation outside of their stage banter.
The performance was weird, funny and thought-provoking, and fostered a sense of awe and wonder at just how remarkable the everyday is. Although the video footage was esoteric, Nick Zammuto and Paul de Jong showed no trace of snide sarcasm, instead conveying feelings of positivity about just how wonderful the little things can be. The band spent the entire evening sitting in their chairs, but the visuals projected above them were so compelling that you didn’t really want to watch them play. I wouldn’t want to see many bands at the Cultch, but the Books amazing performance fit the place perfectly.