Monotonix at Cataldo’s

By - Apr 21st, 2010 10:58 pm
Sign-up for the Urban Milwaukee daily email

Image of AWESOME provided by Erin Wolf

I can say I’ve never followed a band from inside the venue to outside the venue, watched them set up on a street corner, and then watched the singer climb to the top of a stop sign still belting out a song. More surprisingly was that Cataldo’s on KK, formerly the Bay View VFW Post and a place famous for prohibiting songs with swearwords during their karaoke nights, played house to the show (and an all-ages one at that). I hope the guys at Cataldo’s witnessed the controlled chaos, rather than just the chaos, and continue to host bands. The space and sound upstairs were great.

Monotonix pretty much ended their set with a move to the front lawn outside. It was awesome to see the sweaty, hyped-up crowd follow them out the door and the staggered, amused looks of “What the fuck?” from the people with more restraint left inside. I took the move outdoors as an additional opportunity for some fresh air, not expecting (though it was stupid not to) Monotonix to make their way back into the venue. I was sort of anticipating their raucous, hyper-physical set to end there, unraveling into a rock-and-roll hippy parade stumbling down KK.

But Monotonix are too much of the showmen to explode and peter out. Though this is the first time I’ve seen them, they are obviously excellent at timing their improvisation. They played every angle of the room, set up on the floor and transported the drum kit (with the help of the crowd) from front to back to middle to left to right. If I hadn’t been standing on the risers that circled the room, I would have seen about half the show. Luckily, singer Ami Shalev and guitarist Yonatan Gat utilized the risers to the crowd’s and their advantage, setting up shop on top of them on either side of the room for a few songs apiece. I was very tickled (1) to have Gat’s guitar head a foot or so from my face and (2) to feel precisely the sweatiness and hairiness of Shalev’s back. For much of the performance, however, the band played on the floor, swallowed up by its circle of sweaty fans and—I have to say—very well-paced crowd surfers.

And to reiterate Monotonix’s great control of their crowd, at one point mid-set Shalev got everyone in the audience to sit down and hush up. In pretty hard to decipher English, he then proceeded to make a few comments about Wisconsin (I think), to ask who wanted to come up and dance (I think), and to request a drummer from the audience (I’m sure). It all went off without a hitch, picking a floppy-haired kid with some chops to improvise (Shalev: “Play whatever you know on the drums”), while Monotonix drummer Haggai Fershtman slow danced with a noticeably intoxicated woman decked out in crochet–he himself clothed only in what looked like floral-patterned boxer briefs.

With all the theatrics surrounding their live show, I was expecting to care less about the music, or at least have a harder time paying attention to it. Of the reviews I’ve read, what Monotonix sounds like is hardly mentioned. I had never listened to them before and had been waiting to catch them live (as I hadn’t already for some reason or another). Musically, their noisy rock and roll is tempered by some warbly bluesy spots. The two meld pretty well together, and I enjoyed the moments of tinny grooving best. The spectacle is forefront, but the music isn’t bad either. (My favorite—musically of the evening anyway—was Centipedes. Really tight noise rock, and good, well-written songs for a band [though with experienced members] only playing their second or third show.)

All in all, with such a reputation for destruction, the tone of Monotonix’s performance was fun and positive. The band has a great sense of humor, and they radiate complete enjoyment. Despite wild-eyed dives into the crowd, shit thrown into the air, and other impromptu antics, their performance was never threatening or violent, just really happily unhinged.

Don’t just take our word for it–check out the first of four videos coming from High Frequency Media documenting the goofy carnage! Thanks guys!


0 thoughts on “Reviewed: Monotonix at Cataldo’s”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Monotonix look like my kinda thing. I’m sad that I wasn’t there 🙁

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *