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Mono Fills Austin’s Mohawk With Beautiful Melodies and Introspection

Mono performs at Austin's Mohawk.

Mono performs at Austin's Mohawk.

The four members of Mono were more than halfway through their set at Austin’s Mohawk on Saturday when I observed a curious behavior from one of the audience members. It happened during a transition from one epic, sweeping composition to the next. Recognizable notes materialized into melody, enough that one fan realized what song was coming next. Not only that, he was excited for the song that even now was beginning to take shape. He did what a million fans in a million other music venues have done since that momentous meeting of alcohol sales and live music produced what we now identify as the modern rock show. He jumped into the air and with a shout of undiluted enthusiasm, he exclaimed the word “yeah” into the balmy night air for all to hear.

His cry, however, went unanswered. Had his actions occurred at just about any other live performance, they would have been justified. A little vocal appreciation for a recognized song would have worked even for the night’s opening act Chris Brokaw. But in front of Mono with their bangs hanging low to cover their faces while melodies of tragic beauty washed over us like the release from a good cry, it seemed out of place.

Or was it Mono that was out of place playing a free show at an outdoor venue while somewhere not so far away, the muddied rabble of the Austin City Limits music festival stewed in their own humidity as Neil Young closed out the Saturday lineup? I can’t think of a better venue than the Mohawk to take in a few brews and some local bands, but Mono? Mono is a band that identifies more with classical music than the post-rock genre so frequently hefted upon them. They play glockenspiels and record in studios paned with stained glass. They write albums based on concepts like the “theme of memory, and how it transcends time.” No, this is a musical experience best appreciated in a proper concert hall carved of raw marble where a man wearing a tailored suit hands out mints and tidies up your beard in the bathroom.

Yet, there I stood at the Mohawk, quaffing beer from a plastic cup and feeling my emotions ripped from my heart and put on display by a four-piece instrumental band from Tokyo.
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