Photos by Zak Neumann
Thursday night’s three three-man-band bill at The Blue Moose Tap House’s Blue Room (upstairs) was a master class in the power of the trio. All three bands on stage repped a drummer, a guitarist/bass player and a vocalist, and none suffered for missing a conventional piece of the rock ‘n’ roll puzzle. Last minute addition, Liberty Leg, pumped out enough dirty blues stomp to match grit and intensity with the whipper snappers in The Tanks and the insanity of headliners Monotonix. Ethan Richeson’s vocals came with an immediacy, a vigor I haven’t seen from him for some time. Craig Ziegenhorn (guitarist) and Josh Carrollhach (drums) matched him with slinky 12-bar riffage and snappy fills that put this set over the top. It was quite possibly the trio’s best set in a year or more.
Despite technical difficulties with the vocalist Kevin Koppes’ elaborate vocal distortion kit, The Tanks pulled out a classically self-deprecating and grungy bit of post-hardcore.
The trio was prepping for a tour of the South and Western portions of the US, so they leaned heavily on the as-of-yet unreleased material that will comprise their third album (tentatively slated for a Fall street-date). Once the band launched into the third song of their set, “Never Ghost Me,” from The Tanks’ second LP, Keep Breaking Down, the audience finally quitted their appreciative head-nodding and foot-tapping to take part in a mosh pit (or as close as Iowa City hipsters like myself can muster).
Headliners Monotonix, from Tel Aviv, Israel, almost make their music secondary to the performance of it. Giving you a set list tells almost none of the story, relating the hi-jinx reads more like highlights from a bar fight or a football game. No matter how many left-of-center shows I see, I still get a little thrill up and down my spine when a band sets up on the floor in front of the stage.
Before Monotonix even played a note the crowd had already swarmed to them looking like a rugby scrum. But the group weren’t interested in the fans that were coming to them, Monotonix started from note one with an attack on almost any one who had designs on doing “the standing still,” or hanging back. The ultimate desire of the outfit seems to eliminate the spectator and create a room full of participants, and they got really damn close.
Before the end of the first, fiery burst of garage rock the shirtless (and already sweaty) frontman Ami Shalev had already surfed over the entire crowd. It wasn’t long before Shalev was standing on the bar and dancing with a woman in a red dress (or looking up aforementioned red dress). The band was soon to follow. Toms, snair, high-hat were passed by the audience to the bar and perched atop as axe-man Yonatan Gat and drummer Ran Shimoni sidled past beers and tappers to play. Currency was defiled, beers were dumped/thrown, garbage bins hurled, nearly every member of the audience came into contact with Shalev’s sweaty, hairy torso, no matter how persistently some tried to avoid it. There’s a saying that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, well writing about a Monotonix show is like making yourself an accessory to at least four or five misdemeanors.
Photos by Zak Neumann
Video By Drew Bulman: