The Monomatics Ride the Waves Into the East Village This Saturday Night
Practically ever since Otto’s Shrunken Head took over the former Barmacy space, they’ve had surf music there. Tiki bars have come and gone in this city and at this point Otto’s seems to be the only one left – if this long, narrow former home to an independent pharmacy even qualifies as a tiki bar.
The big issue with Otto’s is that the weekend door guy has an ID scanner and employs it mercilessly, even on the elderly (you might be surprised to see how many of the elderly frequent Otto’s). Bring your passport, since scanners don’t work on passports. Now more than ever, we need to be careful not to leave any kind of electronic trail of where we go, what we buy and who we hang with.
The latest surf show there is this Saturday night, starting at 8 with an act called the Reverb Kings. They may or may not be a cover band like the headliners, the Wraycyclers, who play Link Wray tunes. The middle act, the Monomatics – an up-and-coming, mostly-instrumental Brooklyn trio – are the most intriguing. They’ve got two promising short albums up at Bandcamp, released just before the 2020 lockdown.
The better of the two is the Last Night ep, which came out in December of 2019. Guitarist Donn Denniston chooses his spots, playing with a vintage tube amp sound – reverb and cheap distortion – in the opening number, Race Towards Death, a horror surf tune.
The band slip out of an early 60s-style R&B theme into a loping desert rock groove in the second track, Lost Woman (for Devra). Denniston sticks with running catchy riffage in the brief Focus on Sanity, followed by Alan Vega, a shout-out to the late Suicide frontman, everybody in the band off in his own individual time zone more or less.
The band wind up the ep with Rough Pass, built around a series of tritones; Strychnine, a punk song with no relation to the Cramps tune; and Pearl’s Dance, a decent stab at a noir stripper theme. If surf rock is your thing, this could be your chance to get to know these guys before they bust out of triple-A for the majors.