January 28, 2010 | 12:06pm
To view a full slideshow of photos from this event, click here.
With Surfer Blood, Woodmen Hall, and Love Handles
Respectable Street, West Palm Beach
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The problem with being a performer known for exaggeration and extreme physical antics is, when something seriously goes wrong, nobody believes it at first. And so it went last night that when Monotonix frontman Ami Shalev called for a doctor barely 15 minutes into his band's headlining set, he was, at first, relentlessly heckled.
He had started the show in relatively fine form. (It must have helped that he slept, prostrate and tucked under a blanket, on a bench through all of Surfer Blood's set, before consuming two cans of Monster Energy Drink.) Off went his and drummer Haggai Fershtman's shirts, and they began the show with a sweaty, hairy ballet after Shalev parted the crowd like Moses. Fershtman lay on his back, crab style, as Shalev doused him with bystanders' drinks, then took a running leap to land with the two locked in gymnastic poses.
At least half of the crowd who remained at this point (most of the dancing girls had cleared out after Surfer Blood), seemed completely unfamiliar with the band at set's beginning. They consequently lost it, and as Fershtman's drum kit got pushed into the middle of the crowd, a minor pit opened around him. Shalev managed to crowd surf, despite lacking the real critical mass of people for that sort of thing, and even soon forced a particularly enthusiastic chick to do so as well, pushing her aloft himself.
The problem is, this show being in the northern reaches of "South Florida," there were, of course, the requisite random drunks and muscle heads in the crowd. And a little "moshing" always gets them riled up. So somewhere in about the fourth song -- I believe it was the particularly rousing "Ride" -- the barflies went apeshit. It's unclear exactly what happened (I was busy running towards a wall for safety), but at one point, a large guy had managed to climb atop Shalev's shoulders, even as the singer signaled for him to get off. And that's when the music stopped, abruptly.
"I think we finally managed to make history," Shalev said. The crowd cheered, figuring it would be an announcement about the band's debut appearance south of Orlando.
"After more than 700 shows, I think I finally broke my leg," he continued.
More cheering. This was part of the stunt, right?
"Is there a doctor or paramedic?" he asked.
"Suck it up!" Someone yelled.
"Pussy!" Another heckler cried.
But Shalev was obviously in pain. "Fuck you!" "Pussy yourself, you motherfucker," he yelled, wincing and grabbing his thigh. "What we need here is a doctor or a paramedic, or a wheelchair. Or just a chair." He repeated the request again at least twice.
Confusion then ensued as, yes, there was a doctor or paramedic in the house, who ran to tend to him. A massive bag of ice was produced from behind the bar, and helpers produced an Ace bandage.
Shalev, though, seemed to want to continue the show from a chair, insisting to his handlers and bandmates he could just ice it down. That seemed highly unlikely once the paramedics arrived with a stretcher. Shalev refused to leave on it, but didn't get up either. Nobody from the venue bothered to announce what was going on, instead sending a DJ to the booth to play indie rock as a few people lingered, trying to dance.
Eventually, most of the crowd trickled out. (Some actually demanded refunds. Really? Enjoy your extra $7 or $10, assholes). It was an anticlimactic, deeply disappointing end to what should have been the band's triumphant introduction to South Florida.
Monotonix is scheduled to finish up the last shows of its January tour run through the end of this weekend, and is supposed to play the 40 Watt in Athens, Georgia tonight. It remains unclear whether the band will be able to do so or not. We'll post more updates as we get them.
VIDEO: Photographer Ian Witlen got video of Shalev's initial plea for a paramedic. Here it is -- in retrospect it's pretty disturbing to hear everyone yell at a guy asking for help. (Yeah, that's Steve and Jonathan from Torche in the right side of the shot.)