words & photos: Rick Clifford @rcstills
“..If soul was a commodity, No Mono would be the music equivalent of Jeff Bezos..”
Setting up a pretence to a show as possibly being the last, will always garnish a feeling of sombre importance. This is exactly what happened during No Mono's most recent(and potentially one of their last) show at Melbourne's Howler bandroom.
Showing up to a venue early for a gig, is always an interesting move, for me I enjoy seeing the keen and eager people it gives me an idea of the type of following a band has. Also after missing my opportunity to secure a copy of their latest vinyl Islands Part 2 online, I'm in high hopes for a last ditch merch score.
Walking over to the still-being-set-up merch table, I'm pleasantly surprised, the latest album there staring me in my vinyl deprived face. I keenly snatch it up, with probably way too much enthusiasm for the first customer through the door. I dont care, its mine!
After that super digression, back to the actual review. Sydney's HANDSOME is a bubbly and refreshing opener, full of life and enthusiasm. Showing no ware of the daunting task to open the quiet & sparsely filled room. Opening with track No Cowards off her 2018 release 'No Hat No Play' the “introduction” for most to HANDSOME is a joyous one, filled with smiles and shuffling shoes.
Reminiscent of an Australian Christine & The Queens - minus the synchronised dance sequences - HANDSOME is relentless in the delivery of pop bangers. Latest single Delete You enticing the ever becoming capacity crowd to start dancing and shuffling around, albeit more than was planned to when leaving the house tonight.
Closing with upbeat number Save Some Love, the now capacity crowd is treated to an almost Florence Welch uplifting mood. In light of the vibes to follow, HANDSOME is a welcome colour to the palette of Saturday nights tones.
A quick change over and the stage is set for Melbourne's No Mono to perform in front of the capacity Howler bandroom, for one of the very last times. Not long after the announcement of these Island Part 2 shows, the band mentioned there will be no more shows planned and that this run will likely be the last in the current formation as No Mono.
With the pretence of uncertainty in the air, the savouring of each moment was on the cards for most fans tonight. As Tom & Tom walk out onto the stage they're greeted with much accolades. Being that this is my first and possibly last No Mono show, I committed my experience to one of memory and experience, and chose to review sans notes.
With the haze of emotive gestures and looped vibes, Tom Snowdon's delivery is as ever present and captivating as one could possibly be. His fluidity to articulate the emotions and intricacies within the melodies were painted in every movement and expression.
Snowdens voice is a perfect blend of angelic and abrasive, when needed the rasp becoming all too real before delicately guiding back to the mellow. Songs like Rearview & Blood Red creating the dreamy feelings of security amongst a crowd of strangers, whilst dancier numbers like Keep on & the gothic industrial sounds of Fever Highs are a welcome change to the quiet coasting of the majority of the set.
The melding sounds of this beat heavy duo is so unique and needed in this current climate of Australian music - I hope their hiatus is temporary. In my humble opinion, If soul was a commodity(and it should be), No Mono would be the music equivalent of Jeff Bezos(in terms of wealth not the exploitation of workers). Alas it isn't and that's probably for the best.
Seeing a solid performance of actual musicians performing for real always leaves a lasting impression on me. I'm glad I finally got to witness No Mono in the midst of their musical experimentation. A truly unique show that should be treasured and kept as the experience it was, no phones, no notes.