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The Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Street Bands: Monotonix, Dark Meat, Hollywood at the Talking Head April 18

April 22, 2008
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| Image by THE CITY PAPER DIGI-CAM%u2122

| Image by THE CITY PAPER DIGI-CAM%u2122

| Image by THE CITY PAPER DIGI-CAM%u2122

In personal experience, anything that ends with people enthusiastically following the shirtless white man into the street as another climbs atop a car typically leads to rioting and looting and/or mob violence. So it was a great relief watching the pulsating crowd of people cramped into the Talking Head pour onto Davis Street to witness Tel Aviv trio Monotonix continue its pyrotechnic set with nary a windshield kicked in or woman inappropriately pawed.

Frontman Ami Shalev–part Cat Scratch Fever-era Ted Nugent, part chimpanzee–basically brachiated out the door. Drummer Haggai Fershtman transported his entire kit outside. And guitarist Yonatan Gat, whose evil love riffs put the pervy leer behind the band’s fuzzy bump and grind, stepped out with his apparently mile-long chord, climbed atop the van parked right in front of the door, and wailed away as a streetlight cast a total eclipse penumbra around his spectacular mop of hair.

Such showmanship was the cherry on top of an evening ripe with noisy good times. Local opener Hollywood turned out to be the latest incarnation of a bunch of local young punk vets including Flowers in the Attic‘s Kenny Harvey on throat and Kevin Bernstein on bass. The two to three guitar-powered outfit played a throbbing eye-poke of noise rock that left no doubts that the Amphetamine Reptile and Noiseville catalogs are still being listened to as much as they were in 1993. The event was the CD-release show for Hollywood’s Hits! An Alltime Low, a 12-track anti-social gem of bad attitudes (“Girl?”) and cheap shots (“Toucher”), and although the band was already on by the time we got there, we’re pretty sure we caught most of its set, as suggested by this between bands conversation:

Kenny Harvey: Did you see us?

CP: I think I only caught the last 15 minutes of the show.

KH: That was the entire show.

Dark Meat, a purportedly 23-member outfit from Athens, Ga., shoehorned a small army onto the Talking Head’s intimate stage. All love to a small-club touring band that 1) shows up in a charter bus-sized touring machine that barely makes it between the parked cars along the Davis Street tight squeeze and 2) packs a horn section that includes flute and trombone. But these kids looked like commune hippies straight up–and a bass player that looked like the love child of Kurt Cobain and Wolverine–and judging by the cover alone suggested this book was gonna be something along the lines of Godspeed You Drive-By Truckers once they got all 5,000 (or whatever) microphones sound-checked and ready to roll.

Goddamned was that assumption ever wrong. Dark Meat takes equal parts marching band and Southern rock, combines them with a heaping dose of constant energy, and mixes until everybody’s having just as much wing-nut fun as it is. Somebody alternates beating a hand drum and sending confetti through the crowd with a leaf blower. Another guy occasionally plays a pocket trumpet, occasionally sends colored streamers shooting to the back of the room. Who knows what that one guy was doing to that poor inflatable flamingo the band tossed into the crowd? And while this circus is going on in the club, the band flies through brass and guitars-injected indie-rock war whoops. You get the feeling that Dark Meat brings its own house party to wherever its merry tour bus takes it, and when it closed its set with an monolithic cover of the Stooges’ “Fun House,” anybody not smiling doesn’t know what fun is.

And then Monotonix, whose set felt to fly by in a wash of fire–Fershtman’s drum sticks, Shalev’s pants’ legs, beer cans, mustaches, wailing hair, and every surface in the club coated in at least one person’s sweat. Guitarist Gat is a perpetual-motion machine of sleazy ’70s rock riffs, and Fershtman remains able to lay down a chest-thumping beat despite any distraction–such as Shalev hauling his bass drum around the room or upending a can and bottle-filled trashcan over his head. The set stuck to the ass-moving rock of its recently released six-song EP on Drag City. And, hell, when this band has enough songs to fill out a full-length, there very may be dope, guns, and fucking in the streets.

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