Monotonix leave Uptown Bar in ruins


Monotonix, courtesy of Myspace.

By all rights, the place should be a pile of smoking rubble.

Much has been said of Monotonix and their antics. But there's no way to author a review of the Israeli three-piece without insisting that their histrionics are, quite literally, without peer. No band, active or inactive, has so consistently summoned so forceful and imaginative a live act. Ever. Period.

Their Friday night show reached near capacity by the end of Condo$ opening set. The Minneapolis five piece took a melodic but overly sensible approach to their material. Much gazing at the guitar neck, punctuated by moments of on-stage aggression, initiated by singer Chris Tures. The use of a chrome microphone and some strident guitar whines added the occasional twist, but the entire show seemed a blindly direct and dutiful, as if they were performing and composing from a cookbook. That said, Condo$ were adept musicians and affable people off stage, and their opening set kept the swelling crowd interested.

The Millionth Word followed. They are a band on which, lamentably, far too little has been written. Composed of veterans from such local powerhouses as Doomtree, The God Damn Doo Wop Band, Swiss Army, and Kid Vengeance, the five-piece has spent a year or so composing songs that seem to dangle on a particularly dizzying edge of pop rock. Like a snapshot of a party taken mere moments before it spins out of control, their songs always entertain, but churn with brooding, menacing currents. Their set was outstanding-- energetic and infectious. They performed to much ovation, and by the last notes, the Uptown Bar had reached capacity.

And then Monotonix. At the opening notes, lead singer Ami Shalev was asurf in a tide of raised hands, spinning and rolling like a dab of milkweed caught on the wind. And so began the jaw-dropping, entirely unchartable Monotonix show, which brought the Tel Aviv three-piece from the floor before the stage, to every table and booth in the bar, to the smoking area, where a jungle gym was made of the overhead rafters.

In all the writing done about Monotonix, little gets said of their music. Sure, you go to a Monotonix show to see, not to hear. But their reputation as a band for whom the music is an afterthought is unfortunate. Even as the drumkit was being disassembeld piece by piece, even as every member was afloat on a swell of hands, the music, which is of an uncommon garage vintage, rarely missed a beat. Were the band to have performed on-stage with a performative dispassion that is all too common, the music still would have satisfied a crowd.

Outlawed in their homeland, eternally a nomadic crew, exiles in the diaspora, it certainly won't be long before Monotonix returns to the Twin Cities. Make sure you go-- it's the kind of show that makes the half-hearted fare we're used to paying for completely inexcusable.