Nowhere is safe. There are no hiding places. There’s no getting away with being a simple spectator tonight. Israeli six-legged, three-bearded, no-clothed monsters Monotonix are here see, and within seconds of their amps rumbling into life there’s beer, water and ice across the floor, bottles and cans flying through the air, a dustbin on the drummer’s head, and this stuffy little corner of Reading doesn’t know what’s hit it.
Before the headliners turn South Street inside out though, Empress, Throwing Knives, and The Black Heart Orchestra share band members, a love of Converge, and a desire to wreck all nearby eardrums. Of the three, Empress have got the best tunes, combining crusty hardcore with a dark metallic edge and aggression that comes out as an emotional punch rather than flying fists, but none are better than support band status yet.
Monotonix’s music isn’t actually that thrilling either- like Queens of the Stone Age with the peaks and troughs rounded down into one chugging, persistent riff- but the three dudes on stage (and off stage and behind the bar and in the toilet) could be playing their favourite TV theme tunes and it wouldn’t matter at all, attached as it is to one of the most mind-blowing live shows ever witnessed. A set that starts, surges past frontman Ami Shalev stripping to his underwear and dry-humping the bar, guitarist Yonatan Gat playing on his back, on his head, and upside down, drummer Haggai Fershtman handing parts of his kit out to the crowd, and Shalev surfing the bass drum across the room, and threatens to never stop.
And really you can’t just witness this, you have to join in, you’re forced to experience it. And sure, there’s an air of menace here, there’s just no other way to describe a show that rumbles relentlessly on past blood, bruises, and the owner of the venue screaming in the promoter’s face to make it all stop. But bigger than that is a shameless joy, a grin-inducing excitement that’s catchier than swine flu, twice as deadly, but a billion times more fun. A gig not to be missed from a band on the edge.
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