Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Pelican with Mono : Middle East Cambridge MA 6/18/06

Pelican with Mono
Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge MA
Sunday June 18 2006.

It seems like months ago now when I heard ramblings of a Pelican and Mono double bill. Finally Sunday night it came and oh yeah was it grand.

For the first time in months it was seasonably warm. I drove in to Cambridge leaving about 8:15. I didn't want to be too late but too early was not good either. I walked in to the club as local band Disappear was wrapping up.

I decided to settle in to a sweet spot so I got about 15 to 20 feet off dead center stage. The good news is I am nice and tall so I had a good sight line. It was beyond hot and Mono was setting up their own gear and soon enough we were ready to take off.

A quick "Who exactly are Mono anyway?"
The foursome from Japan seem to be workhorses here in the USA. At any time they are on the road if you look at the itinerary they will play 29 of 30 days in a month. They are on a small label and probably will never ever get played on the radio. What makes them good? They are just a stunning instrumental band. How four people do this is beyond me. The members are: Takaakira "Taka" Goto: Guitar, Tamaki: Bass Yasunori Takada: Drums, and, Yoda:Guitar. Taka and Yoda actually sit a fair amount while playing. Tamaki sways back and forth center stage keeping the bass rumbling while Yasunori can hit them as hard as hell where needed.

With a simple nod and wave the band was ready to roll. Staring off ever so quiet the goons at the club continue to talk. I understand this is a "night out" and a "social event' but still..when 95% of the place is not talking perhaps its your queue to STOP TALKING. The quiet intro to the 13+ minute Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain opened the set. Yoda does sit the whole time but Taka will stand for this one. The guitar part repeats a lot until the two guitars get going, then over the next few minutes it slowly builds and builds. You are in the freaking zone, ready for take off, and the band launches..i mean takes off. It is the most powerful moment you can experience, the band is absolutely in outer space and you are being brickwalled by sound. The drum sticks that Yasunori used were basically "kettle drum mallets" during the ride cymbal rolls are now smashing the living tar out of his kit. The f'ing jabber jaws earlier now have both ears covered..its really loud. I feel the hair on my neck stand up...its absolute heaven. Shit this will not slow down..how can they get louder, yet the do. With a resounding smash the band fades down to a feedback/echo delay. Fingers come out of ears, beer cups go in to clentched teeth and the audience erupts. Its flat out awesome.

Inside 55 minutes later it was all done. Holy crap time to catch my breath before Pelican.

I made my way back to the Mono merchandise table. I hardly ever EVER buy stuff at shows. I try to support the bands that I know need the gas money to get to the next gig. Anyhow there were a dozen or so people at the table and Tamaki was doing what she could to keep up. They had a few t-shirts, and 2 cds. They didn't even have the latest cd You are There (their 4th) so I think that is good sign it was selling at shows. Anyhow I decided i needed to get something. T-shirts were..$7.00..call me crazy but this is a deal. I also wanted to grab a collaboration cd they had with a band called Worlds End Girlfriend. Come to find out this bad boy is not even due out in the USA until September of 2006...well I have it. The cd was 10 and the shirt 7. I had Tamaki a $20 and in broken English she quietly and ever so politely says "Do you have 2 more dollars?" She didn't have singles to give me change. So she nodded and she asked me to hold on. After a few minutes I realized its freaking $3.00. I leaned over to her, smiled and said "keep the change for gas money". The look on her face was worth it. I packed up my stuff and went back to my spot to check out Pelican.

Pelican is a four piece from Chicago. They too have been on the road for ages and may find the right place in rock radio, but I am not holding my breath. Mostly due to the length of the songs. After a pretty short set change the band is up and ready to go, but they leave, only to come back ready to go. The same stage set up as Mono with guitar players Laurent Lebec and Trevor de Brauw left and right, Larry Herweg on drums in the middle/back with his brother Bryan on bass front and center.

Opening with the epic and i do mean epic "March to the Sea" (also the name of this blog) I knew I was in for something. This time I was even closer to the stage..inside 12 feet. I could feel the amps not just the PA. Mono and Pelican have similar styles but where Mono does the soft->loud Pelican just pretty much goes loud. Trevor freaks out the entire time, I have no idea where he gets the energy. The Herweg brothers really keep a solid and steady low end letting the band really take the sound upwards. The set also had a new song played which holds a lot of promise.

It was the final night on the tour for Mono so they sang their praises and Pelican was also headed home after one more show. They began the last song of the set but midway thru Trevor's gear started to act up. Basically a trio completed the "main set" but the band came back out with Laurent saying "We can't end a set like that". We got one more song, not sure if it was really planned or not.

It was a dream bill for me personally. I love this style of music. There are no vocalists and just the music is left for your interpretation. Once you find yourself singing guitar and bass parts in the shower you'll understand the full fledge love for "instrumental" prog/post/industrial rock.

Mono live shot taken from here. Please check it out.



At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:33:00 AM , Blogger Dim said...

Awesome job, man! Excellent read!

At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:12:00 PM , Blogger Road to the Isles said...

Great review, buddy!

At Tuesday, June 20, 2006 6:44:00 PM , Blogger pog mo thoin said...

You should do this for a living. Get hired at some little paper, part time, give them your reviews on a commission basis, and let the strength of the reviews get you in syndication.

At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 8:19:00 AM , Blogger tim and/or hilary said...

nice review, you certainly captured the Mono vibe well.

also nice to toss a couple extra bucks to the band; i saw the $7 tshirt price and figured that the shirts were probably the thinnest 50/50 blend possible so i passed. probably should have taken a closer look.

At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 10:54:00 AM , Blogger March to the Sea said...

pog thanks for your vote of confidence. I like doing them but I am so bad with the english language..i suck at grammar and prose etc.

At Saturday, May 12, 2007 10:39:00 PM , Blogger Tim said...

hey, that pic of Tamaki you used is one i took. shots of the '07 show @ the middle east are here:



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