Tuesday, July 6

Any doubts that rock 'n' roll is still dangerous were quelled when Tucson's Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout and Israel's Monotonix performed at Club Congress. The show redefined audience participation during what proved to be an awesome pairing of bands.

The show started with Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout, a unique band that plays a strange punk hybrid of intense, Minutemen-style funk riffs elongated over a singer whose vocal range is similar that of the voices found on late-era Damned recordings. The bassist, drummer and guitarist effortlessly churned out a repertoire of melodic and complicated progressions, but not just for the sake of riffing. The band's high-speed playing created a danceable din that got the audience primed for Monotonix, whose performance was as much a workout as it was a rock show.

Monotonix's songs are a blazing and hypnotic onslaught of simple metal riffs with classic rock sensibilities, as if Karp had been putting out albums in 1973. The trio is easily one of the heaviest bands around to be playing without a bass player, relying on heavily distorted guitar riffs played over a minimal drum kit. After a few songs, the reason for the minimal kit becomes apparent: The audience surrounds the band and moves the drums around the room into arbitrary configurations with which the band must conform; only the amps remain in place. The band rocked hard regardless of how and where the drum set ended up. Even with a half-full garbage can slammed over his head, the drummer did not miss a beat. Any objects that got in the way of the band ended up flying through the air or hoisted over the heads of the crowd.

The audience eventually graduated to being the stage as they lifted the singer into the air along with a floor-tom drum, for the purposes of launching a beat over the heads of the crowd.

All of the chaos embedded in their live shows is no gimmick; the frenzy is organic and sincere, and the songs are solid as hell.

In an era when metal albums are littered with endorsements, Monotonix prove that punishing riffs run through shitty equipment can easily trump the polished sheen of much of modern music.


More by Billups Allen


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