What It Was Like: Abe Vigoda, Monotonix, Circle Jerks, Todd Barry, Janeane Garofalo

I've read again and again what a spectacular display Monotonix's live show is and finally got to experience it yesterday afternoon. I stuck around for the Circle Jerks afterward, but it was clear there was just no way any band could top Monotonix. So I decided to give my fatigued eardrums a break and end my SXSW experience with a few laughs at the Comedy Death Ray showcase before driving back to Dallas.

Act: Abe Vigoda
Where: "Mess With Texas" day party at Waterloo Park
What It Was Like: A great performance despite some apparent technical problems. The band is often described as "tropical punk." That makes some sense, as the guitarists both use effects and a percussive string attack that gives the guitars a really cool steel-drum tone.
Verdict: Highly recommended. If you're in Dallas, check 'em out at 6:30 p.m. today at The Lounge On Elm Street's South By South Flesh.

Act: Monotonix
Where: "Mess With Texas" day party at Waterloo Park
What It Was Like: Absolute insanity. The music itself is pretty good; punk-edged, sleazy hard-rock. What sets the band apart from any other I saw during the entire festival was the members' complete disregard for their own safety. This was not a mere rock show. It was a war against monotony, and they were ready to make any sacrifice. Singer Ami Shalev climbed the lighting rig, dove into the crowd, crowd-surfed standing on a floor tom and stuck his microphone up his ass--only to put it to his lips moments later. Even more impressive than the stuntman acrobatics, though, was when he actually managed to get the frenzied crowd near the stage to sit down during a quiet moment. Because the band spent the entire show wading through and surfing on top of the audience, it was the only moment when Shalev could be clearly seen by most of the crowd. Otherwise, he was usually just a blur of hair and sweat seen in glimpses through a chaotic screen of arms and cameras.
Verdict: Inspiring. The way they threw themselves into their performance with such disregard of their own safety and trust of the audience was nothing short of spectacular.
Coitus Interruptus: When the sound was cut mid-song, Shalev proudly proclaimed that it was the third time in three sets that the band was stopped short. Dunno if that's something to be proud of--any jackass can just keep playing past his scheduled stop time.

Act: Circle Jerks
Where: "Mess With Texas" day party at Waterloo Park
What It Was Like: Anticlimactic. 
Verdict: I feel sorry for anyone who had to follow Monotonix, but especially washed-up punk rockers. 
You Want Some Cheese With That Whine: Keith Morris bitched about his diabetes, cocaine addiction and alcoholism. At one point, he threw a hissy fit when a fan climbed on stage to jump off. After Monotonix's completely fearless set, it wasn't a good look.

Act: Todd Barry
Where: Esther's Follies
What It Was Like: A nice break for the ol' eardrums after four days of triple-digit decibel levels. 
Verdict: He's just as funny and sarcastic as his Dr. Katz character, Todd the video-store clerk.
Best Moment: He relayed a conversation with a friend, who had given him advice for saving money while traveling: sign up for Internet at the hotel, call to report it isn't working, then keep using it. "Oh, you mean stealing," Barry replies to the friend. "That gives me all kinds of ideas. Hey, I've got a great way to save on blueberries at the grocery store. Bring a backpack."

Act: Janeane Garofalo
Where: Esther's Follies
What It Was Like: Getting over a college crush. Before she began her routine, I remarked to myself just how great she still looked. Then she proceeded to detail just how high she hiked her support hose to girdle her gut, how many Vicodin and other meds she'd taken that day and just how long it had been since she last had a bowel movement.   
Verdict: Not as uproariously funny as I expected, but still a good way to end the night.

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Jesse Hughey
Contact: Jesse Hughey