When Aftermath first met Israeli sludge-punk overlords Monotonix at SXSW 2008, lead singer Ami Shalev threw the contents of a full garbage can onto the head of his drummer, the Borat-biting Haggai Fershtman. Sometime after that Aftermath also managed to ingest at least a mouthful of Shalev's sweat as he jumped into the crowd. When Monotonix came to Houston this past February for a date at Numbers, they finally broke Aftermath's poor Sony Cybershot as they telepathically promised the previous spring. Within two minutes of the band's opening song, the digital device became a part of the drum kit. We didn't get mad or cross with the band, nor did it diminish our opinion of them. It was kind of like having a dog chew up your favorite slippers. The lovable scamps don't know no better. This brings us to Saturday's show at Super Happy Fun Land off Polk. The venue made the show BYOB, an all too rare occurrence here in town. We loaded up on cheap whiskey and airplane bottles of vodka before the show, because we'll be damned if we see Monotonix sober. As a drunk can't feel anything in a car crash and is more likely to live in the event of an accident, these rules also apply to a Monotonix show. Otherwise you will be alarmed and frightened by the proceedings and run to your nearest coffeehouse for some mental mothering.
The show started innocently enough, with the band stripped down to tiny barely-there shorts filling cans of Lone Star with vodka and water. The assembled throng surrounded the drum set like they were in the wilderness and this will be the only source of fire, and once the jamming started it was. Before note one was rung out, Shalev and Fershtman had already done a lap on top of the crowd and guitarist Yonatan Gat's instrument had been doused with booze. What happened next was an orgy of clothed bodies, frayed nerves and sweat ingestion. The show began on the floor of SHFL, and moved to the outer rim of the men's restroom before it went out of doors and nearly spilled onto Polk Street. We would see Shalev jump from the very top of the restroom, off the venue's dumpster and play drums while hoisted on top of the crowd.(See some video here.)
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No one else is doing this in rock and roll, and thank effing God. It had to come from the Middle East because heaven knows that this kind of visceral antagonism would be hard pressed to be found in the States, where it would have already been watered down and homogenized into an "act." At least coming from a foreign zeitgeist the show has an added weight of unbridled air to it. One could now argue that Monotonix is now just an act, with the music being an afterthought to their live show. But that would mean that the band would be playing be someone else's rules, which obviously they are not.