Review – Monotonix at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Sept 21 09
– review by Shawn Conner/photos by Jessica Bardosh
One of the more outrageous aspects of a Monotonix show often occurs near the end. If it’s an indoor venue, singer Ami Shalev and the boys lead the audience outside.
This wasn’t going to happen at, or outside, the Biltmore, which is situated near a bunch of condos on the East Side of Vancouver, original city of NIMBYs. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the term (Not-In-My-Backyard) originated here, the spawning place of Greenpeace. (It’s not all the neighbours’ fault—a triple band bill on a Monday night meant the Monotonix didn’t go on ’til near midnight, and who wants a bunch of rowdy half-naked rawkers running around outside after midnight on a Monday?)
However, rather than letting this turn into another anti-Vancouver rant by dwelling on the ridiculous policies of the city enforced on the bar (everyone subject to a pat-down, no ins-outs, everyone needing to show i.d. no matter how obviously over 18 you are, everyone herded out the back door so as not to disturb the neighbours), let’s instead celebrate the Monotonix, a group that may be one of the best live acts you’ll ever see.
Those wacky Israelis put on yet another stupefyingly intense, fun show chock-a-block with the antics those of us who have seen the band have come to expect. The three Monotonix avoided the stage altogether, instead playing on the floor as the audience pressed forward to see them. Hirsute Shalev, wearing only red gym shorts, spent half the set near the low ceiling, held aloft by members of the crowd, while guitarist Yonatan Gat spun fuzzy psychedelic riffs, keeping things together until the music could once again gel. I couldn’t see Haggai Fershtman from where I was standing at all, although periodically pieces of his drum kit would appear, as when Shalev rode the bass drum, raised in the air by a few sweaty patrons.
This was my second time seeing Monotonix. Though some idea of the mayhem can be gleaned from YouTube clips of the band, nothing quite prepares the audience for the group’s determined dismantling of that wall between performer and viewer. With rock music becoming more corporate every day, Monotonix deliver something a little dangerous.