Published Jan 05, 2009Why do people hop onto rollercoasters or watch slasher movies in the dark? The caffeine rush, essentially - and that same force making your heart pound is what the ferociously interactive Monotonix there for, too. You just may not know that going in, thinking, "Okay, I heard they're like Gogol Bordello, just more insane." To put it mildly.
Thanks to the Monotonix show at Pawn Shop, there are several things the people of Edmonton can now say they've seen. For example, when sweaty Tel Aviv singer Ami Shalev pulled his filthy white pants down from under his unitard and - how do I put this - "docked" the mohawk of a cringing yet laughing fan into his bottom, that really was something entirely new - and worth the admission alone. Worth enduring the absolutely wretched snot bombs he was shooting earlier, even. However, even in this vile act there lived the thrill of being hunted by something terrible. It drew lines, even if thankfully mild ones, compared to the horrors of GG Allin.
The music was straightforward enough garage rock/punk, sloppy with all the banging around, best when it took the form of invigorating Hebrew call-and-response numbers. The shaggy threesome played with sonic negative space effectively - starting and stopping to tease the crowd throughout the night, pulling us ever closer in to fill up the silence.
But what's really special about the band is how they set up, their human physics, which is essentially by the will of the mob. There's no separation between performer and crowd whatsoever - it quickly exists as a writhing, gelatinous H.P. Lovecraft monster.
The hoisted bass drum and guitar are played by everyone, furniture is climbed, rafters tested during sound check draped from like those old "hang in there, baby" posters. I actually said something encouraging like that to an overwhelmed bouncer. Then suddenly, a countdown, and Shalev and guitarist Yonatan Gat launched themselves onto our heads. Not to crowd surf, but just to see how far each of them could jump. Monotonix, then, are little more than a playground your mother wouldn't want you hanging out in. But, hey, doesn't that make them all the more delicious?