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America, independence, freedom … woo-hoo!

Will’s Pub

Another thing worth raising a glass to is the imminent rebirth of Will’s Pub. No, seriously. Because of the uncertainty in dealing with permitting authorities, a hard opening date hasn’t been set, but a concert has already been confirmed for Aug. 1: New West recording artist Tim Easton. Orlando’s most anticipated bar is likely to be open before then (God willing and the permitting department don’t rise), so stay tuned. That squishy sound you hear is an entire city’s livers shaking.

The Beat

Wait, keep ’em up. This next toast is for that most American of things: the raw spirit of rock & roll. Right now, there is no greater exemplar of that than Monotonix, who peeled the lid off Back Booth June 24. Rising from Israel in a storm of massive Blue Cheer riffage and Stooges-inspired garage sleaze, this band is kicking up a commotion the Holy Land hasn’t seen since Jesus was mixin’ it up.

Their supremely righteous records are carved in obscene proportions and dirty as a gas-station toilet, but their live show is even more thrilling. You just know some crazy-ass possibility looms when one of the band members interrupts your conversation with the promoter to ask if it’s cool that they do their “fire thing” (i.e., setting their cymbals ablaze). They decided to forgo that part of the spectacle, which may or may not have to do with a precedent my drunken antics set at the club a few years ago during the first Floridas Dying Rock Fight. Regardless, they didn’t need it.

In the concert experience, there’s sight and there’s sound. If you’re lucky, the performer will exploit both. On that rare occasion, you encounter a band who introduces touch, like Monotonix. And believe me, they’re gonna bring it to you whether you like it or not. It’s a wholly engaging performance style that completely kicks down the fourth wall and imposes their presence on concertgoers in all manner of indecent physical ways.

When I saw them at SXSW, they started on the stage but ended up on the floor within three songs. This time, they just skipped the foreplay and set up on the floor. Once they began, all sorts of mayhem erupted. Playing the ringleader was singer Ami Shalev, who is Keith Moon reincarnated as a frontman. As he snaked through the crowd, he unleashed a bag of tricks that included showering himself with other people’s drinks and claiming every imaginable perch in the club like a deranged pigeon. He even neared GG Allin insanity by shoving the mic in his ass crack.

And give it up for drummer Ran Shimoni. Being the least mobile and always with hands full, the poor motherfucker endures the most abuse by madman Shalev. Like some perverted version of a victorious football coach, Shimoni had a full trash can dumped on his head by his dangerous bandmate. Even after it was removed, the singer took the remains of some hipster’s dinner and shoved it in his drummer’s face. All the while, Shimoni never stopped playing. For what you go through in the name of rock & roll, you rule, dude.

Eventually, they dragged the drum kit outside into the middle of Pine Street and banged out the finale in the night air, even drawing a jeering bum into the party. Fuck YES, man!!! All the texts I pounded out promising a life-changing experience were validated. Those who didn’t heed my gospel, well, who’s suckin’ now?

Monotonix is the world’s most electrifying live band right now, their shows rapidly becoming the stuff of legend. Willing to lay everything on the line, they exist on the thin, carnal line between man and beast. Y’see, us Asians are not a particularly hirsute people. Unlike some of my friends who wake up to a beard, a simple goatee for me is an investment of months. But after close proximity to such hairy rock virility, I felt like a wooly caveman. Viva Monotonix!

It’s tough to come down from such a high, but Athens’ Maserati, who played the Booth June 27, was no slouch either. A model of exceptional dynamics, their groove-riding instrumental intellectualism is best enjoyed live and at loud volume. It’s exceedingly rare to see a band as balanced in terms of talent and contribution as this, each member an essential force in the composition. Together, they gave a deep, hypnotic and cerebral experience.

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About The Author

Bao Le-Huu

Music columnist.
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