Live Review: Mono, Dumbsaint, Grun

10 November 2017 | 1:52 pm | Matt MacMaster

"A Mono show is an exercise in relinquishing control of higher functions such as critical evaluation and plugging your lizard brain directly into the amplifiers."

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Sydney's Grun opened the show. Their soupy dirge lacked the finesse required to compete with the rest of the bill, but on their own they're a fine band. The short set length denied them the opportunity to settle in and explore their arrangements.

Dumbsaint are sitting head and shoulders above the pack in the local post-rock scene. They have a sophisticated, nuanced approach that, combined with their polished filmmaking, sets them well apart. Post-rock can be a slog sometimes, but bands like Dumbsaint hold the torch, lighting the way forward and keeping the genre feeling vital. Their set was accompanied by selections from their ten-piece feature film Panorama, In Ten Pieces projected onto a screen on stage, offering a cohesive narrative to their cinematic soundscapes. Extra points to drummer Nick Andrews for some elegant kit work.

Monolithic post-rock titans Mono were not so subtle. What they lacked in complexity they made up for with discipline and ferocity. They distilled the quiet/loud post-rock template down to its essence. Passages of gossamer minor-key melodies were bulldozed by crushing riff loops unfettered by intricate time signatures. Their performance certainly wasn't a brave departure from previous tours (barring the recent symphonic productions hosted by Melbourne and other cities), but you don't buy tickets to a Mono gig looking for loose riffing and banter. Attending a Mono show is an exercise in relinquishing control of higher functions such as critical evaluation and plugging your lizard brain directly into the amplifiers.

Mono's noise is distinctly a product of their home country. The Japanese have a penchant for melodrama that manifests in all their artistic endeavours. Mono is a post-rock extension of that idea, a tremendously potent band that favour broad strokes and grand gestures over pretty details. The performance in Manning Bar was broad in the way that huge walls of symphonic distortion are. It's impossible not to be overwhelmed by their raw power (Godzilla has the same effect, it should be noted). Listening to them crash through their new LP Requiem For Hell (that title!) was beautiful, intense and, if we're being honest, exhausting.

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