Over The Weekend: Monotonix at The Loft

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Monotonix, Joan of Arc, J. Roddy & The Business
The Loft
November 5, 2010

Better than: going to a concert and not getting a trashcan thrown in my direction.

A Monotonix concert took place at The Loft in Dallas on Friday night.

But to only use the term "concert" to describe this event is to sail past the actual essence of the lawless happening.

Sure, music was played. But this, dear friends, was a riot.

A real, honest-to-goodness riot broke out -- and rolled on for the full set. A passionate, mobile mob was formed, the floor shook far more than it should, people were pushed, security guards were befuddled, and hell, the stage wasn't even used for the headliner's set.

As ol' Will Shakespeare once wrote, "All the world is a stage." For Israel's Monotonix, literally each corner of The Loft was their stage -- to violate in any way they could.

And violate they did.

Yeah, technically, it was a concert, and some songs were buzzed out and sure, the dirty, frenetic garage rock that Ami Shalev, Yonatan Gat and Haggai Fershtman threw out was fun and engaging enough on its own.

But, hello, any attempt at critical breakdown is simply missing the entire point.

As the trio literally moved their instruments from one spot in the club to the next -- including a hair-raising stint atop the bar (the actual bar!) -- music was merely the vehicle that drove the madness into an even sweatier, smellier terrain than would've been reached had the songs not been there to sonically assist.

The microphone which Shalev used to order around the dedicated group of pogo-ing disciples was desecrated in such unmentionable terms, that they must be mentioned, only to a point: Let's just say that Shalev owes that microphone a nice lobster dinner.

Fright, hilarity, disgust and inspired awe. Such are the emotions and revulsions that all in attendance likely felt at one point or another during the show.

The impending oddness of the night was plain to see from the start of the headlining set. A heavy-set, and heavily lubricated, blonde woman, who claimed to be Monotonix's biggest fan, stormed the drum kit, just before the first song. She then performed her best Jason Bonham impression and, as she was being helped away ever so gingerly by security, she was literally shouting, "Peace on Earth, good all to will men!"

No, before you ask, none of this is made up. And, sure, typically, a drunk fan making a bit of noise isn't worth noting at a rock show. But that wicked episode was indeed a forerunner for the following hour, and its busting of pretense -- as well as the transformation of what many consider to be a unique concert experience.

Shalev led the throng of 150 people or so around the room, and even outside onto the spacious patio. Never resting, or breaking character, Shalev tossed inverted, full trashcans onto the heads of his drummer and even fans. Newly purchased, full drinks were wrangled out of the hands of thirsty patrons and joyously shuttled across the venue as Shalev filled the role of an insane and deprived escaped convict more than he did lead singer.

Shalev's tiny, and shockingly hairy, frame mixed with his graying mane and bushy beard, resembling an aging Yosemite Sam, even though he boasted the depraved brazenness of the Tasmanian Devil.

Such a description seems apt, given that his band's theatrics are seemingly straight out of a screwed-up cartoon, and not real life. Which, by the way, is why The Loft, or anyone there Friday night, will not likely be the same, anytime soon.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I don't like moshing any more now that I'm well into my 30s. There was a lot of moshing Friday night -- but it wasn't a mean-spirited style. So: No harm, no foul.

Random Note: There were a couple of opening acts, actually. J. Roddy Walston & The Business managed to put together a rambunctious set of southern-style rock, even though they hail from Baltimore. There were only about 20 people watching them though.

By the Way: The other opener, Joan of Arc, provided a very uneven set of math-rock. At times thrilling and, at other points, self-indulgent and just boring, the foursome seemed to just have a hard time getting in the groove. The Chicago group's overall style of post-rock favored ragged melody over atmospheric dreaminess, which was nice, as they weren't going out of their way to out-explode Explosions in the Sky, which seems to be a trend in post-rockers 'round these parts.

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