(Monotonix by John Graham)
Better than: an L-tryptophan food coma
Download: Some Triclops! stream
Arriving to a packed house, humid and crammed with perspiring scenesters, the first question that comes to mind is: “Can Triclops! and the Monotonix actually stir up their usual tornado of chaos and entropy in this sardine-tight environment?”
The Magic 8-Ball replies: Without a goddamn doubt.
For a band as cross-wired as Triclops!, the setting doesn’t really matter. It could be a quiet Wednesday night at Thee Parkside, a sunny Saturday afternoon on Polk Street, or — yes — a sauna-like Friday at the Knockout, the SF psych-prog outfit is guaranteed to knock you over like a bowling ball on an ice rink. As a youth, singer John Geek must surely have driven his poor mother mad with astronomical laundry bills, since he usually hits the beer-fouled ground by the third measure of the opening song. His voice electronically tweaked into a buzzing mosquito whine, he flies through the crowd — and under it, and behind it, and on top of its collective head — while the three musicians on-stage catalyze an increasingly complex and virulent form of acid-damaged post-punk.
If Geek doesn’t spin your head around with his antics, the music’s whiplash tempo changes will. The Triclops! version of punk rock destabilizes preconceptions with every twisted minute. Best live band in San Francisco? Provided you like your music unpredictable, aggressive, and more than a little bit threatening — yes.
As for Tel Aviv’s Monotonix, they start where most bands finish: by setting their drum kit on fire. Maybe that’s how citizens of a terrorism-plagued nation simply say hello. With the social niceties out of the way, the trio then proceeds to make a tremendous mess. The trash can in the corner? Tossed. The cocktail fixins on the bar? Dumped. The hat on your very head? Stolen. All by a soaking-wet and shirtless singer who looks like a cross between John Oates and Ted Nugent and who climbs on every available surface like an especially hirsute orangutan. (Apparently the Israeli RDA of Hairy Man-Chest Action is much higher than ours...and that’s including bear nights at the Powerhouse.)
Of course, the other two band members get in on the daredevilry as well. Maintaining a constant churn of retro-fuzz sludge that’s entrancing in its minimalist repetition — think Nebula or Mudhoney playing krautrock — the drummer climbs on your shoulders for a snare solo while the guitarist gets up in your grill for a quick riff breakdown before running back through the clustered mob. Needless to say, it’s hellaciously ridiculous fun. You don’t even care that their “cover” of the Johnny Thunders nugget “Born to Lose” is really just two looped chords and the song’s title shouted over and over. If you didn’t enjoy yourself at this one, kids, you’re deeply fucked. Bukowski put it best: “Some people never go crazy — what truly horrible lives they must lead.” — John Graham