Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Sundae - the Monotonix experience Sunday 16 Aug 2009

I think we can safely say that the Summer Sundae experience splits into three distinct parts:
BM - Before Monotonix
M - Monotonix
AM - After Monotonix

Seriously, as Tweeter JmsDmnd said "Monotonix have ruined me for every other band. My gig-going bottom has been truly violated by the massive dong that is Monotonix."

We'd really only gone in thinking it 'may be interesting' - in hindsight we should have taken more notice of the festival booklet praise of their "gloriously untethered live performances".

To give it some context, BM we had been watching Woodpigeon the Canadian ensemble, quite possibly some of the mildest mannered performers you could imagine. They were lovely, with the sweet and subversive main singer Mark Hamilton dressed in white and the sweet and tiny Foon Yap on violin next to him.

(Here's a video of them doing their gorgeous cover of Abba's 'Lay all your love on me' -- at Summer Sundae they were joined by Beth Jeans Houghton for this, complete with that big blonde head of hers!)

Anyway, at the time it was merely amusing when Woodpigeon announced they had flown in from a gig in Sweden with Monotonix: "but we didn't dare say hello to them" so they dedicated a song to them.

Hmm, once we'd seen Monotonix that nervousness made sense!*

Needless to say, this must have been a security and health and safety nightmare. Keep in mind that usually there is the band on stage (raised above the audience), then the gap between stage and barrier where security stand, facing out to the audience to keep an eye that they don't misbehave, crowd-surf, throw anything etc. The audience are firmly on the other side of the barrier facing the band on stage.

Not at a Monotonix gig: the drum kit was set up on the auditorium floor. As the music started - did I mention they were wearing wrestling trunks?! - two more figures appeared on stage. Again, only dressed in wrestling trunks. And then jumped from the stage over the gap and clambered their way into the crowd.

I was wide-eyed in excitement but I have to admit that when vocalist Levi "Ha Haziz" (Yomtov) Elvis was clambering over the audience and he beckoned me to step forward so he could climb over me I froze. Another occasion I would be prepared!
Update: (As proof we were there, here is a picture link. We're in the region of the singer's legs!)
Anyway, you can imagine the poor security staff - bewildered, confused what their role was in this strange new world where the band were in the auditorium, the band were doing the crowd-surfing and the band were throwing water and beer and themselves around! The drum-kit was used as a stand, a bin was used to carry the singer, loads of people co-participated, and everyone was deliriously with the thrill of it all.

There were random chants led by the band ("it's been" "a" "hard" "day's night" and "Ringo!" were amongst the one's I recall!) and lots of movement.

Update: and here's the proof!

They must have covered most of the large auditorium and then, perhaps inevitably, they ascended to the balcony area. I think this was the point at which most of the security staff lost it: I really giggled at reading katediamond's Tweet "Overheard @ #summersundae. Lad to security guard: "Were you at Monotonix? You were shitting yourself! Haha!" - genius!". Oh absolutely. In fact, when we were talking to some of the Merchandising tent staff later they were saying they had been listening in to the channel and it basically consisted of "he's gonna jump! he's gonna jump off the balcony! He fucking jumped!!!"

Video clip - balcony jump

Video clip - Different view of balcony jump

Video clip - floor show with audience member

Video clip - Singer on drumkit being held aloft by audience

For a longer flavour of the Monotonix experience at Summer Sundae 2009, here is an extended video clip!

Of course, by the end -- and it took a long time to end! - lots of the Summer Sundae staff were on the stage watching in awe/fury. Thankfully, not being on the stage did at least mean that the next band could do most of their set-up and soundcheck whilst Monotonix were still at it.

In the end, AM, lovely little Micachu and the Shapes only started about 8 minutes later than scheduled. A remarkable achievement! Even they had to acknowledge what had happened in the space before them, saying "did you see Monotonix? Where do we begin!?" Tellingly, even the George was suitably gob-smacked and I think that counts as a first!

Anyway, this pretty much shaped the whole day so everything else from Sunday at Summer Sundae 2009 is getting a separate post!

* indeed, after the shock of Monotonix, I saw the singer from Woodpigeon and went to give my thanks to him.
"I now understand though why you were scared to talk to Monotonix on the plane!" I said. "They were sat right amongst us!" he replied "We're never opening for them again" he added, deadpan. Awh, bless.


Tina said...


Martin said...

Blimey! And I thought Gogol Bordello were mad.

I've a feeling me and John were supposed to see Monotonix at some point but they cancelled.

What were they like musically? Does it matter?

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Hey great blog of this! I saw Woodpigeon and when the stage announcer said that the next band would be performing on the floor I thought 'Hmm , sounds interesting', but had previously decided to go and see Flash Guns instead. I wish I had changed my mind, as it seems that everyone who was there has said it was the highlight of the Festival. Gutted. Anyway, I'm just about to write up a report of Summer Sundae for my blog at, which will be uploaded over the next 3 days so when I have done this I will link my Sunday review to your blog, because even though I wasn't there I want my readers to know about this !

I'd also like to know though, what were they like musically ? Or as the previous poster says, does it really matter ?

Jane Henry said...

Blimey they sound bonkers! Thanks for sharing that. Have a feeling I may never get to see a band like that till my children are grown up and have left home and I will be too old so thanks for sharing!

chrissie_allen said...

Wow yeah amazing! I'm with Jane Henry on this one. Must've been one hairy gig!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

It was awesome - and probably yeah, the music wasn't THAT crucial. I don't think I'd put a CD of theirs on, but then again I do have some challenging noise-fests in the CD collection already!

They were kinda ---- thrash metal rock avant-noise? The longer video clip gives some sense of their sound but otherwise try their MySpace... Seriously though... BONKERS experience!

Sarah said...

Perfect description, Ma'am. Bonkers, it was...and also my festival highlight!

It was my first Summer Sundae, and I'll definitely be back.

George said...

All live experiences will now be compared to Monotonix. The madness of David Thomas Broughton seemed like a nursery rhyme singalong after that...