GIG REVIEW: MONO, DUMBSAINT, GRUN (Manning Bar, November 2017)
Mono, Dumbsaint , Grun -- Manning Bar, Sydney -- 9th November, 2017
It's a night of shoe-gazing and guitars blazing as legendary Japanese quartet MONO take over Sydney’s Manning Bar, aptly backed up by some stellar local talent in the form of Sydneysiders Dumbsaint and Grun.
The night kicks off in spectacular fashion as ambient quartet Grun spiral their wavy brand of atmospheric post-rock over a sweet but sinfully short set, boasting highlights from their early 2017 release ‘Manyana’. It’s a captivating glimpse into the live capabilities of this Sydney group, who can go from swooning to pounding darkness in a heartbeat, and here’s hoping they get to flex their impossibly lush tones more and more in a live setting in the very near future.
Up next is fellow Sydneysiders Dumbsaint in tow with their trademark projector screen and moody brand of prog instrumental metal. For those uninitiated, this quartet is perhaps better described as a five-piece, with their ever-present onstage screen featuring the band’s series of self-filmed and edited short films that sync up with the live set. But while the group’s heaving tracks on their own are dense and engrossing, the projected visuals at times detract from the true power this band possesses – rather than fully connecting with the swirling adventures unfurling, the visuals shatter the soundscape at times to a jarring degree. Having said that, clearly Dumbsaint have a passionate vision for their art, and they are making waves for good reason with their commanding Russian Circles-esque tendencies.
It’s been a mesmerising night so far, but from the second Japan’s powerhouse instrumentalists MONO take the stage, you can cut the air with razor-sharp precision as they weave their raw, melodic and at times breathtaking tones across an ethereal set. The quartet, who began in the late 90s, expand on the traditional post rock genre with their own unique combo of orchestral epics and shoegaze-driven noise, traipsing back and forth between heavily controlled apocalyptic darkness and explosive crescendos that quite literally shake the ceiling overhead. As the set progresses, the emotionless restraint onstage slowly gives way to passionate exploits, with guitarist Takaakira Goto at times leaping from his stool as the group journeyed across some of their earlier work (‘Ashes in the Snow’ and ‘Moonlight’) and doling out some newer material from last year’s ‘Requiem for Hell’ before the encore.
It’s very little wonder that MONO hold the honour as being one of the most internationally successful bands to come out of Japan – their compositions are pure technical brilliance and their knack for crafting narratives without words is on a whole different level to most modern bands. Add in the ability for a group of four people to silence a near sell-out crowd into an awe-induced stupor, and you’ve got yourself a pretty memorable evening of epic post-rock proportions.
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BY TIANA SPETER