Who would have imagined that the entire world could move online? This year has brought a myriad of firsts for everybody; I’ve been ticking things off bucket-lists that I could never have imagined would be on there in the first place. Well, on Sunday, I attended my very first Zoom concert. The Sultans of String are a Toronto-based band who, according to their website, thrill their audiences with their “genre-hopping passport.” I was a bit curious as to how an online concert would work seeing as my online classes usually consist of, “Can you hear me? No? Is my camera on?” and I can say I was pleasantly surprised.
Starting at eight p.m., Sunday’s concert was centred around the band’s first album released in 2007 – Luna. After spending the first few minutes giving a mini Zoom tutorial, the Sultans got right into it with the leader, Chris McKhool, on the violin, Kevin Laliberté on guitar, and Drew Birston on bass. The audience, consisting of people from all over the world, were mostly old fans of the band, so the mood was very friendly and chill – like a little community I’d been welcomed into.
The songs were all instrumentals except “Contessa” which was performed with special guest Amanda Martinez. The songs incorporated many cultures and genres, the band members themselves being culturally diverse. McKhool, who is of Lebanese origins, enjoys playing Arabic-influenced music; Laliberte has vast experience in the music of Southern Spain – flamenca, as well as jazz and rock; and Birston has played a lot of jazz combos and in pop bands.
“We all bring very interesting backgrounds together and then it creates our own music where we’re telling Canadian stories,” McKhool said.
All in all, the concert went down without a hitch, and the sound was exceptional. That in itself had to come from a lot of careful planning.
“It’s way harder to do an online concert than it is to do an in-person concert,” McKhool explained. “With an online concert, there are so many little weird technical places where it could go off the rails but I sound-checked a lot over many days and weeks and it came off great.”
The band, however, really enjoyed the experience of an online concert and are thinking of doing a few more in the future based on their other six albums.