Feeling Intense Instrumentation: Mono, Holy Sons


Photography: Bryan Yalta

Japanese post-rock band Mono entertained a hefty crowd at Club Dada on Saturday, May 13th, presenting a dynamic performance powered by their cathartic instrumentation. In support of their most recent album Requiem for Hell, the band had embarked in a North American tour last month that is near its conclusion. On Saturday, however, the band looked as if they were barely starting the tour that night—fresh, energized, and focused.

Opening for Mono was Holy Sons, the project of singer-songwriter Emil Amos, which had him singing while playing an electric guitar. Stripped down of any other instrument, this minimalist approach to performing felt atypical—specially when Amos played solos without a backing rhythm section. However, although odd at first, the crowd slowly seemed to get into it.

The music of Holy Sons is weird to define, mainly because it offers two views for the audience: one that views it seriously and another that views it as forced. Maybe it’s lyrics like “I’m ready to die” being continuously repeated which might confuse one in not knowing whether to chuckle or pay close attention. What made it more confusing were the dark jokes in-between songs that felt contrived at times though Amos would deny that they were rehearsed. Notwithstanding the attempt at stand-up, the technicality of Amos in the guitar was well-expressed, which was a great fit for the headliner afterward.

Most of Mono’s songs had subtle patterns easy to catch after a while. They would start out very quietly, a single melody on a guitar, which would then build up and expand in intricacy as more instruments joined in. Then, after changing dynamics for quite a while, the song would amplify in volume and reach a sonic climax expressed almost violently by the band members. The wall-of-noise song endings were like extreme styles of shoegaze, where the goal meant more reverb and louder, deafening volumes.

It must be noted that one crucial complication from the setup was height. Since Mono’s two main guitarists played sitting down, most of the crowd from the middle on to the back only got a limited view of the musicians’s heads—at best. Only the lucky few at the front got a great, intimate view of the band while the rest suffered from obstructing heads. However, post-rock seems to work just as well when it is felt as when viewed. The heaviness of the band was difficult to ignore, overwhelming the audience with a substantial amount of guitar pedals that begot Mono’s main sound. It even prompted one of Mono’s guitarists to jump off his chair and lean his guitar towards an amp to produce feedback that highlighted one of their songs’ fierce finale. Although it could’ve been staged better for the crowd, Mono’s performance had a presence which everyone in that venue felt that night—and that was the beauty of attending their show.

 

Mono is near the end of its North American tour but make sure to catch their latest album Requiem for Hell. Check out more photos from the show below.

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