CONCERT REVIEW: Mono and Fly Pan Am bring the rock

By Stan Molchanov

Who thought Mono would be the best thing to come through Calgary since the whiskey trade in the first half of the century? Last Thursday, all of the post rockers at the Mono and Fly Pan Am show at Broken City would have gladly given up the ol’ firewater for the two bands. Possibly, and probably, the best show to have come to Calgary in the past year or so (with the exception of Ministry, and maybe Hillary Duff), it was also the least advertised and most rewarding of them all.

Mono hit the stage and started off with no regard for the faint of heart and weak of hearing, rocking harder than what was once thought of as humanly possible. All of the songs played were off of the new album Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, and each one was filled with deafening crescendos, melodic diminuendos, and conclusive crowd orgasms. There are artists who claim to have decimating shows in terms of decibel levels, but they mostly incorporate the focalization of one frequency in order to obliterate the eardrums.

On the contrary, Mono had a show of all-encompassing noise, a soundscapes of loudness and multitudes of frequencies, which didn’t make the ears hurt alone, but produced pain for the body and mind as a unit. The most severe of the songs played were “Lost Snow”, “16.12”, “Ode”, and “Halcyon (Beautiful Days)”. Following the conclusion of each song, the band members reflected the joy of the crowd, and almost seemed inherently satisfied with the results garnered. The drummer was as proficient as any drummer should hope to be, the bass player was affected only by the swooping climaxes of the material, the secondary guitarist was developing rhythmic backdrops and displaying the same nonchalance of his band members, and the lead guitarist only rose from his tiny stool when needing to do something loud. All in all, mono rocked. As an introduction to Fly Pan Am, no other band roused the crowd as effortlessly and wholly as Mono had.

A 20-minute lapse, and Fly Pan Am took to the small stage. Like their precursors they only playing material from their latest release N’ecoutez Pas. Fly Pan Am ushered the more experimental portion of the show, with a more intellectual and atmospheric sector of the mind. That’s not to say Fly Pan Am didn’t rock, they rocked out equally as hard if not harder than Mono. Screaming, reel to reel electronics, three guitars, and a deathly good drummer made the foundation supporting the rock of Fly Pan Am.

Originally being a side project of Roger-Tellier Craig from Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Fly Pan Am contains some of GY!BE’s transient guitar melody, but also incorporates elements of experimental electronica, and very fast drumming. Approximately an hour or so of one fundamental melody being developed from every possible method, the FPA set made that one melody seem damn good by the end. It was almost intrusive to the ethereal atmosphere established by Mono only an hour before, but everyone was happily perturbed by it.

Both bands made for an excellent night of music. Mono’s spacey and droning melodies set up one atmosphere, and Fly Pan Am’s explicit experimentation set up another, the two made for an extraordinary display of the best being offered in post rock today.

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