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Monotonix – A Music Fest NW Review

September 19, 2009 No comments
Monotonix in Portland (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Monotonix in Portland (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Often when we listen to music, it’s over little white headphones that connect to our iphones or ipods, literally plugging us into our music. We own music, download it and possess it. For many, music is a very personal experience. Monotonix turns that relationship completely on its head by creating a concert experience where people are compelled to come together to experience the music rather than consume it individually.

Monotonix has very little regard for the conventional structure of a concert. They assemble their instruments on the floor of the venue surrounded by a ring of fans. When the concert starts, it’s an explosion. The entire room moves. It’s not like a mosh pit where people flay and spin bashing into each other; rather, it’s one big circular mass that moves as one.

The Crowd Moves as One (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

The Crowd Moves as One (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

The Music Fest NW set was a lot more tame than their previous Portland performances. Monotonix lead vocalist Ami Shalev spent a lot less time showing off his ass or simulating fellatio with audience members and spent a lot more time singing and rocking. This was a nice change for Monotonix, who seem to be continually refining and focusing what they do. Ami also spent a lot more time hoisted above the crowd. I was struck at site of the the constant sea of hands hosting and holding Ami, drums and the occasional crowd surfer. It was profoundly beautiful. The final song of the set was performed with Ami sitting on a stool playing the drums all hosited in the air by the audience.

Monotonix - The Crowd is The Stage (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Monotonix - The Crowd is The Stage (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

There’s something about a Monotonix show that creates an instant community. As two people collided at the periphery of the circle, their glasses went flying, and immediately the crowd around them made room and began looking for the glasses. In an almost perfect moment the two both emerged holding each other’s glasses. It wasn’t a moment you’d expect at an ‘Israeli Punk’ show.

Crowd Surfing at Monotonix (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Crowd Surfing at Monotonix (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

I’ve seen Monotonix now three times, and I can honestly say they’re not a one trick pony. Musically I do think there’s some room for growth. Their song Body Language (off their debut album of the same name) shows off some real potential for what they can do. I didn’t feel that some of their new songs were at the same level although the performance overall has certainly grown. But you don’t go see Monotonix for just music. It’s an absolutely amazing experience and one which anyone who loves rock music should have. Seeing Monotonix at Music Fest NW was a fantastic reminder to me of why I love music and why I go see live music. Music can be so much more than just consumed and it’s great to be reminded of just how alive it really is.

See more photos from Monotonix’s MusicFest NW set here:

A special thanks to Ken Aaron of Neighborhood Notes, whose pictures captured what my words could not.

For more information on Monotonix and Musicfest NW:

Music Fest NW – Go See Girl Talk and Monotonix

September 16, 2009 No comments
Monotonix is Not to Be Missed

Monotonix is Not to Be Missed

I’ve always been a fan of WWeek‘s Music Fest Northwest . The fact that it’s a smaller regional fest in an era of megafests really creates a nice opportunity to get small venue experiences with up and coming bands.

This year MFNW features two of my absolute favorite small venue bands:

Monotonix (listen to our interview with Monotonix), an Israeli punk slash rock band is a show not to be missed. Monotonix’s shows are a tornado of energy where almost anything can happen. Monotonix sets up on the floor of the venue (in this case it’ll be at the Roseland) and then they explode.  If you’re going to see one Music Fest NW show this year, make it Monotonix, it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget. [Monotonix plays at The Roseland Theater on Friday Septemer 18th at 10pm followed by Bad Brains at 11pm it’s one of the best double bills of the fest]

Another ‘band’ that is extremely fun is Girl Talk. While not technically a ‘band’, Girl Talk will completely blow your expectations of what one guy can do with a laptop. Bringing together samples from almost every genre and era of music. It’s amazing what gets mixed together, think songs like Elton John’s Tiny Dancer can’t collide with Kanye “Jackass” West’s Gold Digger,  it can and will and the result is some of the most dancable tunes you’ll ever hear. It is absolutely impossible to see Girl Talk and not dance and his shows are some of the most fun I’ve seen . [Girl Talk plays at The Roseland Theater (8 NW 6th Ave) on  Thursday September 17th at 11pm with Brother Reade and Guidance Counselor who go on starting at 9pm]

Other notable shows to be on the lookout for:

Arctic Monkeys – Friday Sept 18 @ 7pm Wonder Ballroom
Modest Mouse – Sunday Sept 20 @ 10pm Crystal Ballroom

Also I asked Trevor Solomon, the festival’s artistic director which band he felt was the ‘hidden gem’ of the fest and he immediately replied Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (Read the Review of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros in Portland who play at Holocene on Thursday Sept. 17 @ Midnight.

Since many of the individual concerts are sold out, the best way to get in is to buy a Music Fest NW wrist band ($60) which gives you access to all the shows of the fest from Wednesday night through Sunday.

For more information about Musicfest NW:

Categories: Music Tags: , ,

Musicfest North West and Time Based Art Festival – TBA '08

September 4, 2008 No comments
Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Time Based Art at The Left Bank Project

Tonight two major arts and entertainment festivals had their kick-off events. Both showed that Portland is big enough to support two huge festivals, even when they run at the same time.

I started the evening at MusicFest NW, their kick off party was an outdoor cocktail party in the lot next to the Wonder Ballroom. Less of a scene than a gathering, the party was most notable for the extremely long line for the open bar. The bar line was almost as long as the line of people waiting to get in to see the bands. Did I really wait fifteen minutes for a shot of Soco?!?

I caught the Battles whose set was well received. As I listened to their mostly instrumental music, I couldn’t help but think “Music Geeks”. The Battles play with passion and energy but their music often is over-thought and muddled. I enjoyed some of their songs but wasn’t ever pulled out of my ‘hey I’m watching a music show’ space and so my aside from some toe tapping and light head bobbing the set left me a little cold. I was surprised at how many people brought kids to the show. Maybe mathrock is something that appeals to kids.

Just a hop skip and jump away at the new Left Bank Building PICA launched their Time Based Art festival with a warm and welcoming party. The party was open to anyone and everyone and the scene was a nice mix of people. The Left Bank Project (which is dubbed ‘The Works’ for the TBA Festival) is a very cool venue with so much space that there were tons of nook’s and crannies to explore. One area’s tenant was a version of Backspace Cafe just for the fest. Also a nice patio area featured a work in progress by Justin Gorman whose large format graphic painting was fantastic to see in progress.

Some of the other art, including Big Skin by Lizzie Fitch, Anna Halprin’s Blank Placard Happening and the Flash Choir were solid misses. (Perhaps the Flash Choir would have done better performing in the outdoor space).

A solid start though to two landmark Portland festivals

Categories: Events, Music Tags: ,