The music was turned off when we arrived at The Waiting Room last night at 9:20 to allow for the Obama/McCain debate. Surprisingly, many were glued to the TV sets, as if watching a boxing match… or a trial. The droll spectacle couldn’t put a damper on what was ahead, though. The stage remained dark after the final handshake (or lack of one), and from my vantage point sitting at the bar, as the clock struck 10, I began to wonder what was going on. Then from nowhere came a shrill wave of feedback, and I realized that, of course, Monotonix was set up on the floor. I vaguely remembered hearing about the last time these long-haired Israelis came through town, how their equipment had a way of wandering throughout the club. We were in for the same thing as the band began ripping through its rowdy, punkish garage rock, barked with an accent from in front of the stage, surrounded by 150 grinning fans. You couldn’t see anything from the floor unless you were in the 6’5″ range. I wound up watching from the stage. Frontman Ami Shalev was carried above the fray in a large plastic trashcan, I’m not sure by whom, as the band was having a riot of its own. Ami kept moving the kick drum and the rest of the kit further and further away from the stage, eventually into the main bar area, then the entrance, then finally outside on the sidewalk in front of TWR, frantically waving the crowd to follow him. And they eagerly did — how often these days do they get a chance to watch a live band and smoke at the same time? Outside, drummer Ran Shimoni banged on a snare while Ami climbed a traffic signal pole. Hanging from a piece of the girding he told the crowd to count down from 10 and then count up to four, upon which time he launched into the crowd to surf back to the sidewalk. Never a dull moment.
I’m not sure you can say the same thing about Silver Jews. David Berman and wife Cassie were joined by four other band members including drummer Bob Nastanovich (of Pavement fame). Hanging from Berman’s microphone was a unit of blood that swung to and fro — it was creepy, and disappeared halfway through the set (vampire?). Though this reference will be lost on almost every reader of this blog, Berman looked just like my old communications professor from UNO, Hugh Cowden – he had the same glasses, the same beard, the same shaped face, and probably the same wardrobe — a thrift-store western-cut polyester suit jacket. It was Hugh only 30 years younger, holding a mic.
I’ve been enjoying the Jews’ latest album, which is dotted with touches of western swing. Well, there was no C&W influence heard during last night’s set. The band sounded like well-played though run-of-the-mill indie (Pavement in their final years). Even Berman’s voice sounded different, not so much like Johnny Cash as Kris Kristofferson. A couple people complained about the monotonous, medium-tempo pace of every song as well as Berman’s flat vocal delivery. It didn’t bother me at all, and there were times where it provided a necessary contrast to the more ethereal portions of the set. Though they’re out supporting Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, they only played maybe three songs from it. No “Party Barge.” No “San Francisco BC.” I assume the rest of the set was older material, which I will be downloading from Lala later this evening. Those kooky Monotonix guys joined the band for the last of the three-song encore — Ami sitting on his drummer’s shoulders. Silver Jews were great, but Monotonix will be the band most people are talking about the day after.
Looks like you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for that weekend-review punk column. I’ll have it online in the morning.
Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s STNNNG (minus the gloves) with Omaha’s current “It Band” Perry H. Matthews, Mother Pile and Child Bite. All four for a mere $7.
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