In today’s musical landscape that prizes slick production and worships at the altar of all things electronic, Monotonix proudly bears the torch of rock and roll, unfiltered. The band’s three guys from Tel Aviv, Israel, and their live show consists of nothing but drums, a guitar, a microphone, and lots of amps. No pedals; no effects; this is rock at its most minimal and primal, the stuff of a Lester Bangs fever dream.
As far as their music’s concerned, it’s pretty straightforward garage rock. I’m not sure if I heard more than four chords throughout their entire set, and I couldn’t decipher a single lyric. Not that it matters (their manager laughed off my request for a set list—that would assume they planned any of this ahead of time). Their show isn’t a concert but a madcap fit of hysteria, an exercise in barely-contained chaos. They set up smack in the middle of the audience, surrounded in all directions by a frothing mass of thrashing limbs. Pausing just long enough between songs to grab their stuff and move deeper into the crowd, the trio thrives on the ravenous support of the fans who are literally on top of them. Lead singer Ami Shalev occupied the role of the group’s ring leader/trapeze artist, maniacally and perhaps magically delivering his throaty shriek while crowd-surfing, moshing, and scaling fifteen-foot landings. This was a performance that made Iggy Pop look like a sissy.
Though I’m not in much of a place to comment on the merits of their musicality—virtuosos they’re not—I haven’t walked away from a show so thoroughly satisfied, or soaked in sweat, in a long time. And while the drummer didn’t set his kit on fire (as he’s done in the past), there was no question that by the end they were about one song away from complete physical collapse. A truly bizarre, exhausting, wonderful experience.