By Andrew Bansal
(photos by C. Jones)
June 12th 2017, Globe Theatre, Los Angeles CA: Two longstanding bands that have both carved out their unique identities in the psychedelic rock realm yet hail from vastly different parts of the world, Japanese group Mono and Duluth, Minnesota outfit Low joined forces for a co-headline mini-tour, and began their journey up the US West Coast with the first show last Monday June 12th at the Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The combination of Mono’s mesmerizing instrumental rock and Low’s dreamy, minimalist tunes, was one not to be missed, specially at a venue LA rock/metal concertgoers are not used to visiting. The queue of ticket holders waiting for the theatre doors to open was long, and the air was abuzz with the anticipation of a great evening.
Low was first on stage promptly at 9 o’ clock, and they started their 60-minute set with ‘No Comprende’ from their latest full-length ‘Ones and Sixes’ (2015), the vocal harmonies between guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker standing out as the most striking feature of the band’s musicianship straightaway. The band lives up to its name in that the musical style is low-energy, melancholic and minimalistic, but its power and expressiveness cannot be denied, and Low held this audience in a dreamy trance, many attendees, specially those who were properly medicated prior to the show, finding themselves physically frozen and mentally lost in a fantastical trip. The meditative state of the audience was only broken by someone from the back randomly yelling, “That was really good!”, two songs into the set, inducing laughter.
A major chunk of the set was devoted to the aforementioned latest album, but the band also brought forth some older material, going as far back as 2001 for the song ‘Sunflower’. For a band like Mono, there could not have been a co-headline act more fitting than Low, and this was all the more evident when Mono joined Low on stage for ‘Majesty/Magic’, the highlight of the Low set without a doubt. All in all, Low’s performance was the perfect companion to that of Mono’s, and did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Low set list:
1. No Comprende
3. The Innocents
4. Plastic Cup
6. Majesty/Magic (w/ Mono)
7. Especially Me
Shortly after, Mono took the stage at 10:15 and teleported the audience to an otherworldly place with their instrumental magic. Building up their set gradually through the opening track ‘Ashes in the Snow’, Mono hit their groove on the second song ‘Death in Rebirth’, off of the latest album ‘Requiem for Hell’ (2016) and from then on, they were completely in their zone, not only showcasing the brilliance of their own tunes, but also vindicating the beauty and preciousness of instrumental rock as a genre. The pin-drop silence in the theatre during the quieter segments of Mono’s tunes proved that vocals are dispensable when the instrumental layers are so powerful by themselves. In contrast to Low’s set, Mono’s carried quite a bit more dynamism, and on several occasions got heavy enough for some in the audience to start head-banging like there was no tomorrow.
The 17-minute title track off of the latest album was by far the most memorable segment of the set, and for a band that’s now 9 albums and nearly 20 years deep into their career, it only indicates that they’re still outdoing themselves every time they convene to write and play new music, and continue to strive for higher peaks of creativity and live performance. Focusing solely on playing music and not pausing even for a single moment, Mono brought their set to an end and said their goodbyes to a clearly overwhelmed audience that knew it had just witnessed a band like no other. A Mono show isn’t merely a concert, it is an experience in a world of its own.
It is also worth mentioning that the ambiance and sound quality of the Globe Theatre created an apt environment for these two bands and made this concert more than worth the ticket price for all attendees. Overall, a splendid evening of stellar musicianship.
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Mono set list:
1. Ashes in the Snow
2. Death in Rebirth
3. Dream Odyssey
4. Pure as Snow (Trails of the Winter Storm)
5. Recoil, Ignite
6. Requiem for Hell
Remaining Tour Dates:
06/21/2017 – Calgary, AB @ Sled Island Music and Arts Festival
06/23/2017 – Saskatoon, SK @ SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival