I have been a fan of the Monsters for something like 10 years, back when I first heard songs like "Psych out with me" and "I'm a record junkie." Though they are often labeled "psychobilly" at the beginning of their career, their music has evolved into a more lo-fi garage sound these days. A lot of times when a band changes sound throughout their career I have a definitive preference for one path or the other, but not with the Monsters. And although I don't generally like much psychobilly because a lot of it seems generic or cheesy to me, there are a few bands I really enjoy (early Monsters and Demented Are Go being two of them). When I would see other people talk about seeing the Monsters I would get so jealous, figuring it was something so far out of my league that I would never get the chance myself. Luckily, not so...
It started a few months ago when I got a text from one of my favorite local club owners, asking "Don't you like that Monsters band? They sound awesome. I think they might play here." This knocked me for a loop for two reasons: one, because the Monsters are from Switzerland and have never played Ohio in their 20+ year career, and two, because this wasn't even the sort of band that would normally make the bar owner excited about booking them. Although I had to keep the info quiet, I was dying to tell everyone I knew! To make matters worse, the Monsters never even officially announced their tour was happening until about two weeks before they came to the States. I was convinced right up until I started seeing their photos of neon signs and city skyscrapers and fancy breakfast instagram shots that the whole thing would end up getting cancelled or not happening for one reason or another. BUT IT WAS REAL! AND IT HAPPENED! And it was better than I even imagined.
I played records between bands, and Reverend Beat-man came over to the stage where I was set up to say hello. We had been friends on several social media sites for a while now, so I assume he recognized me. I've even begged him a few times when he posted live photos, "come play here!" I'd like to think my nagging helped nab a Cleveland show. From what I hear, his booker just straight up likes Now that's Class and booking through them. Hey, whatever it takes...
"You're playing records!" he said appreciatively, and I shook his hand and told him how nice it was to finally meet him.
When he sat down in a booth to hang out before the show, it made me a little flustered knowing he was sitting there listening to the records I picked out. I don't normally get starstruck, but this was a little different! After all, Beat-man is a respected record label owner/distro, dj, musician, record collector, and lover of all things sleazy and trashy...AKA, my kinda pal. I suppose when I met him I was expecting him to be a little more wild like his musical persona, but I was surprised to see he was soft-spoken and rather reserved. When it was finally time for the Monsters to take the stage, he was a madman during the performance (hence all the pictures I took where the left side of the stage is merely a blur!), but still charming and silly. He asked,
"So, what is your name?" to which the crowd yelled back, "CLEVELAND!"
"Oh, Cleveland is your name? That's nice. That's my daughter's name, too," he joked.
I really liked when Beat-man thanked us for "our" American rock'n'roll music, and illustrated how Swiss rock'n'roll was the equivalent of him pretending to eat something, chewing and swallowing it, and then...well, you can assume the final result which ended up cupped in the palm of his hand. I beg to differ on the quality of Swiss rock'n'roll, most specifically the Monsters, but I digress.
Seeing a band with two drummers is a bit of a novelty in itself, but it made an already incredible performance even more over the top. At the end of the night one of the drummers even thanked me for playing records, which meant a lot because I hadn't actually met him and didn't know he even noticed there WAS a dj. The bassist kept saying "merci, merci, merci!" after every song but it sounded a lot like he was saying "messy, messy, messy!" Thanks to him, this is a phrase I can't help but say (in the same accent) to my daughter as I sit down to feed her breakfast every morning and we listen to their newest record because it hasn't left my turntable all week. Seriously, you should see the girl eat some oatmeal. She's a disaster.
The set included quite a few from their latest album "...Pop up Yours!" and a mix of older tracks. When Beat-man started asking what musicians were from Cleveland, I saw this as my opportunity to hear their cover of the Cramps "Drug Train," which I currently can't get enough of.
"I can't play 'Drug Train'," he responded, "I would love to, but I can't."
Bummer! But it was worth a shot. I could see Beat-man's set list taped to the wall from where I stood, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise by looking at what would come next. Besides "Drug Train" I really hoped to hear "Ponytail and a Black Cadillac," but I noticed when I asked for the set list after the show that this was included in their pool of encore songs that they apparently chose from depending on how they felt at each particular show. Our encore included "Ce Soir," "Black" and "I See Dead People." I thought for sure it was a short set and was surprised to look at the clock and see it had been about an hour long. TIME FLIES when you're havin' fun, or something. Whew! I wished they would start over and do it all again. If we didn't have a 5-month-old, I know for sure we would have been trying to make it to another one of their Midwest shows just to do it again. Maybe I would have gotten to hear my song in another one of the encores ;)
After the show my friends and I bought some merch and thanked the band for playing here. The turnout could have been better, but overall I don't think the band was very upset because they enjoyed the bar and the show was fun. One of my friends even gave the door guy an extra $20 as he left the show, explaining that after what he had seen, the $10 admission price seemed too cheap! When I asked Beat-man to take a photo, I again thanked him and told him I had been waiting ten years to see them play. He thanked me in return and even kissed me on the forehead, haha! I got a big hug for the picture, and I insisted that Josh take one more because he is notoriously bad at taking photos.
We got home very late that night and the babysitter got peed on, but I'm gonna go ahead and chalk that one up as a success. I would LOVE to see them again some day! One of the best shows I've seen in my life, hands down. Long live Voodoo Rhythm!