The Triffid, Brisbane QLD
March 9th, 2020
Supports: Jo Quail, Kodiak Empire
I couldn’t believe that MONO have been around since 1999. I have only just discovered them through a friend about two years ago and they have fast become my ‘new favourite band’. Since then I have listened to everything I can, watched as much as I can on YouTube and read a fair bit. And yet, nothing I have watched or listened to could prepare for the experience that was MONO at The Triffid on Sunday, March 9th.
I have been into post-rock for quite some time so to have this band go under my radar for so long is unusual, however shout out to my friend Malcolm for introducing me to them. I am now forever grateful. In saying all this, I have been to quite a lot of gigs in my 51 years on this planet, and I can honestly say, I have never experienced before what I, and a small crowd of a couple of hundred people did.
I have never been to The Triffid before, so I was impressed by the venue. It’s fantastic that Brisbane has this great place to see bands, to hang out and just take in the atmosphere of a setting that is devoted to music in this fair city. After the demise of so many venues over the years, The Triffid is a credit to Brisbane.
Anyway, on to the show.
Kodiak Empire opened with their brand of ‘math/prog rock’. I had heard them before on Spotify and they didn’t do anything for me but watching them live won me and the crowd over. A very enthusiastic set with intricate timing changes that reminded me of very early Powderfinger before they started writing three-minute pop songs. Their drummer had to be one of the most enthusiastic musicians I’ve ever seen, a combination of Tommy Lee and Miles Teller in that final scene in “Whiplash” (if you haven’t seen that movie yet, I highly recommend it).
After their 35 minute set, I reminded myself to add them to my playlist.
Jo Quail then set up her own stage with an intricate setup of pedals, and cables. She then came back out with her custom-built cello, plugged in and completely blew my mind. She used her instrument as a percussive tool, looping her sounds through her pedals, building her opening piece to a staggering climax that sounded like a full orchestra in The Triffid. The response from the crowd after her first song seemed to take her off guard and she was genuinely affected by how the small crowd reacted to this stunning music. She told us that she wanted to take us with her everywhere.
Speaking of the crowd, this was the most reverent crowd I’ve ever been with. Normally a show at a venue that serves alcohol is full of people talking between, over and through songs. You can always hear voices but not tonight. Everyone stood in awe of Jo Quail and her amazing talent and music. I am a new fan of this artist and I will be buying her music, as she encouraged us to do so through Bandcamp. I like that she openly discouraged us from Amazon and iTunes as she said, “It doesn’t help me at all.”
Highlight of Jo Quails’ set was the piece she wrote in Australia called ‘Gold‘, however her final offering, ‘Salamander‘ was also stunning. After only four pieces which went for 45 minutes, I didn’t want Jo Quail to finish. It was then that I realised that I was so mesmerised by her performance that I forgot to take a sip of my drink.
After a short break where the members of MONO set up their own stage, it was time for them to perform. The band was something to behold. I have heard their albums. I have watched them live on YouTube, but nothing, I mean nothing, could prepare me for what I experienced.
Starting with the openers from their latest album, ‘Nowhere, Now Here’, ‘God Bless’ and ‘After You Comes the Flood’, MONO ripped into a set that drew mainly from their latest album, that went from delicate and intricate to head-exploding feedback frenzies. And like the best of their music, the show started at a high level and somehow got more amazing.
The lighting complimented the sound onstage, from subtle reds and blues to outright flashing and swirling, creating a light and sound exhibit that encircled the audience. You don’t watch a MONO concert, you experience it.
I’m trying here, but I just feel my words cannot encapsulate what it is to see MONO live.
The last three songs, which took up the last half-hour of the show were an example of where Taka, Tamaki, Yoda and Dahm are willing to take themselves and their audience. Jo Quail joined for ‘Halcyon (Beautiful Days)‘ which then built to the finale of the set, ‘Ashes in the Snow‘.
Taka and Yoda used feedback, and ear-shattering volume (with Taka screaming into his guitar pickups) to create an effect that I felt lifted me from the ground, much like that scene in ‘Rocketman‘ when the crowd rises as one. After this, the band came back on for their encore, ‘Com (?)‘ from their first album. This piece started so delicately, built, receded to delicate again to a final five minute soundscape of feedback and noise that didn’t feel like it was ever going to end.
I never wanted it to.
With the lights flashing and changing colour, the feedback echoing through The Triffid and the band walking off stage with the sound still going, the show didn’t officially finish until a roadie came and had to switch off the amps onstage.
Having seen MONO live now, I can say this: I have been to a lot of gigs in my life, but I have never seen or felt anything like I did after seeing MONO.
This is music by God.
Gig Review by Dan Brixey (@DanielJBrixey)
After You Comes the Flood
Nowhere, Now Here
Death in Rebirth
Meet Us Where the Night Ends
Halcyon (Beautiful Days)
Ashes in the Snow
Revisit our interview with MONO‘s Takaakira ‘Taka’ Goto right here
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