Brunton Auditorium, with its soft seats and acoustic integrity, is the last place you would expect to see a “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Super-Band” perform. Despite this, the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, an eclectic and eccentric group of 12 musicians, played a lively show.
The band flooded the stage and the room remained quiet, aside from a few cheers from a couple enthusiastic audience members in the front row. The mismatched group was dressed in garments ranging from over-the-top striped socks and long flowing skirts to fedoras and waistcoats.
Violinist and vocalist Mark Marczyk introduced the band and informed the crowd that the group normally performs in a very different type of venue. He encouraged everyone to get up out of the theatre seating and dance if they felt moved to do so.
The Orkestra saw its beginnings as a busking four-piece based in Toronto. As the group grew and gained popularity they began to tour, and have now performed extensively on a global scale. Much of their music has eastern-European influences; many of their songs are reworked versions of traditional music from this region. The band also describes their fusion of styles as including influences of “funk, punk, psychedelia, blues, and swing.”
Once the band started playing, it was apparent why they had prompted the audience to leave their seats. With three percussionists and a handful of brass instruments, the group began with a strong sense of rhythm. This first song was a good representation of the rest of the upbeat and lively set to come. They did, however, also incorporate some slower and more laid-back songs.
Each musician played their own solo, weaved throughout the show. At one point, the alto saxophonist played a chilling solo that had the entire room in stunned silence. Marczyk also informed the audience that the group had made a bet to see who could be the first to include the Star Wars theme in their solo. Given their broad-spectrum influences, the band’s ability to infuse traditional music with recognizable contemporary riffs was captivating. They also played a popular Benny Benassi song during the second half of the show which garnered a positive reaction.
As the show progressed, audience participation increased. It was inter–esting to see the initially hesitant audience transition into a crowd that was dancing and moving around to the music. And for good reason; the band was consistently mobile and used the entire stage. Some musicians moved back and crouched as their bandmates soloed, while others danced with one another across the stage and swung along to the beat. By the second half of the show, most audience members were on their feet and dancing in front of the stage.
The Orkestra ended the show by coming out into the audience and playing amongst the crowd. For their last song, everyone gathered in the foyer of Brunton and sang together while holding hands. The group played an overall zestful and energetic show—footwear optional.