The name Compassion Gorilla may bring to mind a large ape with tender feelings for others, or perhaps a band of freedom fighters who resist oppression with care; both of these descriptions support a deeper understanding of the band of conscientious, yet playful musicians from Victoria BC. If you were frequenting folk festivals around Vancouver Island and across BC this summer then you were likely to find yourself either in a crowd of enthusiastic dancers, or amongst those who like to just sit back and enjoy Compassion Gorilla's colourful show.
Some call it worldbeat, latin inspired ska with a mexican 6/8 feel, but you can simply call it dance music if you like. Whatever you call it, don't be surprised when your dancing feet are driven into a frenzy by a well rounded cast of instruments, including electric bass, guitar and other small stringed instruments (was that a charango?), a violin, a horn section made up of a trombone and a trumpet (whose players incite riots when they move to the front of the stage to play solos directly over the dancers), an accordion which provided an old world feel, hand percussion, a drum kit and passionate vocals from most of the members of the group.
Though the music and attitude evokes silliness and fun, members of the band seamlessly slide into a laid-back seriousness, acknowledging that they are on occupied land, and taking a stance against the way resource extraction is being done in the province. Even small town folk who work in the industries may appreciate the message of resistance, due to our current Government's reckless handling of resources with little consideration of the longterm impact on small communities. And, for those who want to go to a show just to shake off the woes of the world, not to worry, Compassion Gorilla can also be taken lightly.
The band has ample members to create a big energy, which is useful when you find yourself in a small town in the interior of BC on a quiet Tuesday evening. That is unless about sixty or so tree planters, having just finished their planting stint, show up ready to let off steam in a way that only young, hardworking people can do. The scene which ensued had some band members considering their personal safety and protecting their instruments.
Being on the road, and facing the unexpected, is not new for Compassion Gorilla. Much of their current repertoire was inspired by the four or so months members of the band spent travelling around Mexico in a van. They survived and still enjoy collaborating and having what looks to be an authentically good time on stage. If you did not get a chance to check them out this summer not to worry, they will be up to their shenanigans in Victoria at the White Eagle Hall on September 19th, and beyond in 2015.
You can also check them out at: http://www.compassiongorilla.com