- Monkeysoop guitarist Jerry Connor at Rock Bottom Tattoo Bar.
The door man stamps my hand with an inappropriate question: "WWJD?" it asks, "What would Jesus do?" The question's inappropriate not just because Monkeysoop shares the bill with the likes of Mobile Deathcamp (fronted by former Gwar bassist Todd Evans) and SA's own AnalPlague, but because once I've stepped around Scum Allegiance vocalist Dave Bones — currently throwing his neon-mohawked self against the wall, face first — to watch Necurat spew their particularly fierce brand of thrash, I feel like I'm a little out of the J-Man's element. Unless the Council of Nicae removed all the Gospels' mosh scenes, I have to think the first and only thing He'd do is walk his divine ass back across the river.
And then there's Monkeysoop, a band that prompts another question: "What in god's name are they doing?" Even here, they're odd band out. Maybe 15-20 people, most members of other bands, stand watching from the back by the bar. Vocalist Erica Missey plays a wireless six-stringed bass, and she closes that empty floor space herself, twirling and skipping across Rock Bottom's checkerboard floor like a kid playing rock star on an empty stage. Instrumental opener "Jacob's Ladder" seems to require only intermittent string plucking from Missey, while lead bassist Craig McIntyre does most of the heavy lifting, but to be completely honest it's hard to tell exactly what the hell is going on. Drummer Oscar Laun (who offered me some ear plugs before the show) keeps rhythm like he's setting a world's record in speed calculus, and guitarist Jerry Connor — well, he's practically inaudible for the first few songs, but he's making some pretty impressive hand movements.
Connor's more effective on "Monkeysoop," mainly because Missey and McIntyre pause their overwhelming thump for a quick guitar solo. Connor's left hand taps the strings fast and rough while his right hand gently strokes them with a pick, causing the guitar to squeal like a horse being sexually assaulted in double time. (That's a compliment, by the way.)
He's louder, thankfully, on "Time Traveler," which interpolates moments of resonant beauty with passages of pure noise, while Missey works the distortion pedal, Geezer Butler style. The originals on Monkeysoop's set list tonight are all instrumentals, so Missey's powerful voice (maybe best exemplified by her guest spot on Jason Gerard's Mixx Tape track "When I Die") isn't heard until straight-ahead Misfits cover "Astro Zombies." Her booming, surprisingly deep vocals are a perfect feminine foil for Glenn Danzig's lyrics, but the rest of the band is clearly slumming playing bare-bones speed metal.
Dead or Alive rework "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" plays better, with Laun dragging the tempo to a doom-metal plod while McIntyre drowns Connor's bright guitar fills in sludge. Missey's delivery is all Goth melodrama, giving the tired song a fresh emotional urgency.
"Wormhole" and closer "Blades," on the other hand, are all about technical ability, with the former veering off into a time signature that could only be comprehensible outside of a base 10 numeral system, and the latter culminating in a frenetic fingertapping session in which Connor picks Missey's proffered bass like a steel guitar. Impressive, but a little show-offy. It's hard to imagine Jesus would approve.