with Surfer Blood, The Tenant, Yip Yip, Basements of Florida
BackBooth, Orlando, Fl • January 26, 2010
Celebrating three years of booking shows that are awesome and eclectic enough to have earned Backbooth a position as a major player on the Orlando concert venue map, Parafora Productions did what they do best — they threw a party and invited a fistful of ground-breaking bands, both national and local, to play. The resulting turnout was such that patrons were spilling out of the back-alley bar and into the street, even hours before the night’s headliners, Monotonix, were scheduled to go on. A Tuesday night has never felt so much like a Saturday!
After local staples Basements of Florida and Yip Yip entertained, anticipation was high for the return of local music man Brad Register, whose previous band Summerbirds in the Cellar recently called it quits. The Tenant, a band based out of Austin, TX, where Register now lives, are still in their infancy, but the same atmospheric beauty that made Summerbirds so special could already be heard, sprouting from its roots. This new outing feels a little looser, a little more straightforward in its quest to churn out a good thinking man’s pop song, but not yet as cohesive as what Register has given us before. Their set was hampered with technical issues (the bass drum had to be replaced mid-set) causing a painful five minutes of dead air time, but even despite this kink in the works, The Tenant are a band to keep an ear out for.
To say that West Palm Beach’s Surfer Blood “show promise” would be a gross understatement. Appearing, seemingly, out of nowhere, this young bunch of indie rockers have not only released a debut album that most bands would kill to have under their belt, but they’ve already got the live performance chops to back up their in-studio brilliance.
Playing that impossibly perfect album Astrocoast on shuffle, the band was tickled pink that so many fans in the audience had already bonded passionately with songs that — technically — had only been on the sales market for one week. From the opening spellbinding swagger of “Swim” to the toe tapping buoyancy of “Twin Peaks,” the faces in the crowd were upturned and hypnotized — as captivated by the moment as the band themselves.
Lost inside of their own smiles, Surfer Blood made good on their unspoken promise to bring the vibes of both Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins into the 21st Century… sort of like Silversun Pickups, only with less fuzz. And in true ’90s alternative rock fashion, they ended their hair-standing-on-end set (closing out with the perfect pop prize “Catholic Pagans”) with a fun spirited trashing of their stage set, complete with a body pile up on the disassembled drum kit.
Pardon my gushing, but I’m still splashing around inside of the sounds of Surfer Blood and I’m not yet ready to come up for air!
Israeli garage punk trio Monotonix are a band whose shows you attend for the experience of it. It’s a shared moment of good natured chaos, rather than a conventional concert. For one thing, they don’t always opt to set up and play on an actual stage, preferring to stir things up from the inside out by playing in the midst of the madness. This particular night the nearly nude hairy three-piece decided that the tightly-packed audience space looked like a prime place to play.
Though this made for a unique treat for those in close quarters to the pit, the remainder of the club could only see the band members if they decided to take flight onto the outstretched hands of fans… which, fortunately, was where front man Ami Shalev spent much of his time. Climbing up every climbable surface, crawling across hands, allowing strangers to slap his ass, soaking smiling faces with bottle of water, and generally making himself the eye of the storm, Shalev is a circus act unto himself, especially once he brought the party out into the streets and climbed a tree.
The crunchy guitar riffs and elastic beats mirror the bounce of bodies, and Shalev’s vocals can hardly be heard over the din of screams of approval, but that’s to be expected. These monsters of barely contained mayhem throw themselves chest first into every show, so much so that their shows have become legendary and — sometimes — hazardous. The following night, in West Palm Beach, Shalev broke his leg after crashing from a crowd surfing wave.
Bringing the danger back into punk rock, Monotonix are a band like no other and they’ve got a live show to match.
To see more photos from this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.