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Live Report: Mono & Low in Los Angeles

June 12, 2017 | Los Angeles, CA | The Globe

Written & photographed by Ben Manzella (More Than Flashing Lights & Sound)

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After years of primarily attending shows of bands found within the genres of metal (and it’s various trappings or so-called”sub-genres”), punk, & hardcore; a night of both exciting and equally calming music is more than welcoming. On Monday, the 12th of June, I once again had the opportunity see the powerful Japanese band Mono doing a co-headlining night of music alongside Low. Because I’ve listened to Mono for a while now, I was aware that the band were long time fans of Low and knew this would be a special evening; an even better discovery by the end of the evening was that this special quality of the music would surpass my expectations.

Marquee shot

The Globe | Credit: Ben Manzella

When there are only two bands playing, set length is never an issue. However, for a long-storied band like Low with 11 studio albums to pick from in relation to a setlist; I personally shudder at the challenge of feeling like you’ve crafted a song list that won’t turn into a message board nightmare. Something tells me that vocalist/guitarist Alan Sparhawk, along with his wife Mimi (drums/vocals) & Steve Garrington (bass) approach the stage without this thought anywhere near their mind, though.

Low

Low | Credit: Ben Manzella

From the first note of “No Comprende” (from their most recent LP, Ones and Sixes), the entire theater was being subtly entranced by the spacious and luscious tones, quite fitting and also primarily found in an old theater such as the Globe. For a little over an hour, we as a collective audience were treated to a set that was heavy in both emotion and tone, as it was light and calming; leaving you wanting a bit more by the end, but certainly not feeling disappointed. You could see that each member of Low invests fully into their music and it was a privilege to see such a high-caliber performance; I certainly anticipate on seeing them again.

Now, if you saw my review of Mono’s show this past fall with Alcest & Syndrome which I caught in Munich, DE; you’re more than aware that I am a fan of their music. This would be my third time seeing them in as many years, but my first time seeing them in a proper theater environment which appropriately matches the grandeur of their music. With 9 LP releases since 2001 and many songs in the 8-minute range or longer, there is a very careful crafting clearly seen in how a Mono set is structured. Now, the power of a sharp sounding set from a metal or hardcore band is undeniable; but I challenge any music fan to not walk away impressed by the sheer intensity in which each member of Mono brings to the stage. While I’ve played drums for over half of my lifespan, I’ve always been fascinated by string instruments, particularly guitar. The skillset shown between Hideki Suematsu & Takaakira Goto, as well as by bassist Tamaki Kunishi & drummer Yasunori Takada, is at a jaw-dropping level of awe. While both Hideki & Taka are primarily seated during their performances, they are not by any means still, or ever thought to be looking apathetic toward their playing.

Takaakira Goto of Mono

Mono | Credit: Ben Manzella

For an hour and a half, the packed theater was taken on a dynamic musical journey filled with emotion and artistry. The amplified volume made the room feel even fuller, as if the music surrounded the crowd from the floor to the ceiling. To go on further with words would be pointless, as proven by instrumental bands such as Mono; words can be powerful when utilized as lyrics, but sometimes the power is found in the volume of a beautifully crafted piece of music. Mono is a rock band that I truly see as worthy of being considered within the classical category as history progresses, and yet they fit great on a bill alongside metal acts that may very well be booked in a dive bar.

With the brief string of dates that brought Mono & Low together having now ended on the 17th of June (in Vancouver, BC), memories and video footage of these performances are what remain of this particular tour. I can’t deny though, I’d love to see this line-up happen again.

Mono & Low Tour Dates 2017