So, when you are presented with the challenge of reviewing a band that you have little or no knowledge of, you have to do your research and failing that, you have to take the pulse of the crowd viewing the band playing to get an idea of what they are all about.
Such was my challenge when attending the 100 Monkeys concert at the Cains Ballroom last week.
I did a little searching of the music websites and it turns out that 100 Monkeys do make good music. Still, there was no “hook”, no part of the 100 Monkeys that would connect the relatively obscure band with anything near the mainstream. So I despaired a little bit, as I trudged through the bone-cold and still frozen sidewalks of Main Street to Bob’s House as to what I could put to the old laptop as a review and then it happened.
Like a bolt from the blue, I was informed that a movie star was in the Monkeys lineup. It became clearer and clearer as the buzz filled the frigid air that a member of the Twilight movie cast, one Jackson Rathbone (or Jasper Hale from the movie, if you prefer), was also a member of the band. Confirmation of this was the abundance of 13-15 year old females whose cup runneth over with visions of actually being in the room with a star of “those” movies. If hormonal intensity could have been measured in the Cains Ballroon that night, I dare say it would have blown the meter to bits.
Journalistic hara-kiri averted, I entered the storied venue and awaited the ear-splitting feminine roar that would surely accompany the entrance of 100 Monkeys. Before that could take place though, a local band I had never heard of (yeah, I need to get out more), Wighead took to the stage as the opening act. They were decent, playing music that hovered between the Flaming Lips and They Might Be Giants with lyrics that made about as much sense. It was refreshing to see such energy from a band as they played their music. They have a strong local following and thus they were well-received.
As the lights came back up I noted that the crowd had grown larger since the doors opened. The already large crowd was being augmented by more tweeny-boppers and even a touch of celebrity, (Zac Hanson from Hanson was there, I was told) so as the bands changed the stage I found myself curiously anticipating what was to take place once 100 Monkeys made their entrance. Suddenly the lights go down and as predicted, the deafening noise erupted. 100 Monkeys made their way to the stage, and proceeded to rock the house.
They started the set with “Wings On Fire“, and they were off and running. The intimacy of the Cains allows for a lot more crowd interaction and the Monkeys took full advantage of that, mugging for the many digital cameras and cell phone cameras present. The band’s amanger even got into the act, prowling the crowd wearing an enormous banana suit. Gimmicks aside, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite having to endure fans who are there to see the star of a popular movie rather than listen to a great band, 100 Monkeys are VERY talented and I would not be surprised if they did not appear on a more mainstream musical radar scope in the near future.
Photos: Kevin Pyle