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Monotonix 

Wednesday, July 23, at the Grog Shop, Cleveland Heights

Who could've predicted that the best live band on the planet right now would be a raw garage-punk trio from Israel, fronted by a deranged 42-year-old former tank commander who looks like the late magician Doug Henning and howls like British Steel-era Rob Halford? If Monotonix and their hirsute singer Ami Shalev simply stood onstage and played their fuzzed-out, boogiefied Zep/Lizzy/MC5-inspired riffs and grooves (which are louder and thicker than the stripped-down guitar-drums-vocals setup would suggest) in conventional rock and roll fashion, that would probably be good enough. But the Tel Aviv group goes way beyond the call of duty, creating a legendary spectacle that's simultaneously terrifying, uncomfortable, and hysterical. Shalev shows about as much regard for his own well-being as those guys on Jackass. His onstage mayhem may include one or more of the following: dumping huge cans of garbage on top of himself and his bandmates, then rolling around in the filth; climbing whatever is (barely) climbable, dangling precariously, and possibly falling; taking off his sweat-soaked shoe, dumping beer into it, and then pouring it into the drummer's mouth; launching his sweaty, hairy body into a crowd to dance with the dudes and woo the ladies; and setting himself and/or his bandmates and/or their gear on fire. Expect the unexpected, though, since Shalev typically uncorks something new every night. It's a strangely sweet kind of chaos, however — think Borat crossed with Iggy Pop — and one that's supremely entertaining. — Michael Alan Goldberg

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