Monkeytown (www.monkeytownhq.com), an odd bar/restaurant in Brooklyn with a questionable and bright colorful painted hallway that leads to a backroom. The backroom was open, in the shape of a perfect square, and couches aligned the white walls, where there was only about 50 seats in all (and every single one of them was filled). In front of these couches were mini stands with dinner settings so that you could order cocktails or food. I’m not just talking some snacking and appetizers during this live set — the person next to me ordered a rib eye. The performance was equally delicious. The band’s playing area was set up in the middle of the room, with the audience surrounding them, and the walls were covered in large screens from top to bottom. Projectors came from the topside of each corner, displaying some of the craziest films and shorts from visual art students across the United States. A few screens played their music videos — these were stop-motion videos that one of their girlfriends made as part of her graphic arts career. So many elements went into this live show, and I realized that they were redefining the act of being truly entertaining as live performers.
If this was all it took, it wouldn’t be as impressive — maybe you haven’t noticed that I’ve yet to mention the music. I could attempt metaphors and fancy words when describing their songs, but nothing could begin to define them better than simply “stunning.” A lap steel, lap harp stand, guitars, drums, shakers and a booming bass that changed the rhythm of my heartbeat with each pace and tone of strings hit. There is no question about whether or not this trio possesses talent, and it’s obvious that they can all play each other’s instruments. A nearly seven-minute percussion breakdown led the other two over to the drums where they found sticks and joined in on the massive drumming set that sent us all into a crazed jungle adventure. I sat and looked over at the stoners drooling over the performance, and to the other side of me where two businesswomen were also in a trance from what was going on in this room. No matter who you were, this was an epic evening that they have decided to take with them across the country for the next year. Most of their old tunes had some of the fans bobbing heads and thrashing out to familiar tracks, but the real excitement hit when they began to play their live tracks from their new album Shall Noise Upon. The songs played from here on felt like the three of them jamming for over half an hour. I’m not talking about the boring jamming that feels like it goes on forever. I’m talking about the kind where they go from one song to the next without stopping, sending chills down my appendages and leaving me begging for a break because I thought they would explode at the most amazing of energetic moments. And yet they kept going.
I have yet to see a live performance better than this — yes, you heard me. Lucky for you, they’ll be in North Carolina this winter, so keep your eyes peeled for tour dates to be posted soon — or check them out as they come close this fall.