The Monotonix | 12.03.10

Shalev was riding on the drummer’s shoulders while Ferstman played without a break, as if he was accustomed to playing with 145 pounds of shifting weight on his upper back.

Photos: Kelly Glueck
The Gargoyle, St. Louis

Imagine three hairy men that have been stuck in a desert cave since the 1970s with only a beat up telecaster, a heavily distorted amp and the basic drum essentials. Now imagine they were let out for 40 minutes.

Friday night, after the punk girl group Heavy Cream left the stage at the Gargoyle, fans looked around questionably at the cleared stage and the five-square-foot patch of red, wrinkled fabric laying on the pit floor. Things became a little more clear as a four-piece drum kit was assembled and Tel Aviv’s Monotonix exited the stage and entered the pit wearing only shoes and 1970’s track shorts.

The band’s raw, distorted powerchords and punk rock progression filled the room of angsty hipsters. Nearly landing on top of his drummer, Haggi Ferstman, the wildly energetic lead singer Ami Shalev introduced himself by pouring two bottles of water onto Ferstman’s set, sending rhythmic bursts of water into the audience.

After sharing the floor space, 40 ounces of water and the strange fishy smell coming from back stage, the crowd let loose as 45-year-old Shalev began making his way through the packed venue as if he had made it his personal goal to give everyone an intimate view of his very hairy chest.

At Shalev’s signal, instruments were collectively passed to another side of the venue. After a few songs, Shalev migrated to a support beam in the back of the room. Once again, the band followed the rambunctious lead singer as their equipment was handed off, surfing rather delicately above the crowd.

Fershtman’s drumset was not the only thing hovering above the sea of sweaty bodies. At one point Shalev was riding on the drummer’s shoulders while Fershtman played without a break, as if he was accustomed to playing with 145 pounds of shifting weight on his upper back.

The crowd got closer, closing in on the band and each other as Shalev lead a chant of peace creating a united “Shalom” and “No more war! No more Bloodshed.” This act of unison seemed to pump up the Monotonix. After their performance of “Nasty Fancy,” a powerful glimpse of how much energy these guys can emit, Shalev kindly asked all the rowdy fans to take a seat on the Gargoyle floor. The fans obliged and waited to see what would happen next.

Shalev proceeded to poetically chant in Hebrew while all eyes were on him. Bewildered by what was going on, the crowd just stared until the band broke the tension and stepped on stage for the first and only time all night.

If there’s anything to be said about Monotonix, it’s that their performance is not really about their sound, it is about the experience. How many bands would play an entire set in a pit or captivate enough hipster punk rockers to achieve crowd participation? The show was fun and communal and gave fans a sense of unity through the crazy, energetic music. | Kelly Glueck

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