Mono and the Twilight Sad

Two bands from different sides of the planet played Saturday (May 22) at Lincoln Hall, both making some beautiful noise. Up first, the Twilight Sad, from Glasgow, Scotland, sounded even more shoe-gaze-y than they have in the previous shows I’ve seen, with loud guitar feedback churning above, besides and underneath James Graham’s impassioned, Scottish-accented vocals. Graham circled around as he sang, his head tilted back, looking toward the ceiling — he always seems to have a lot of pent-up energy.

Mono, from Japan, then took the stage and proceeded to play two hours of soaring, powerful instrumental rock. Many of the songs began in calm understatement, with guitarists Takaakira Goto and Yoda sitting down, their faces shrouded in long hair, while bassist Tamaki Kunishi stood in between them in a black dress. But each song built in intensity, finally breaking at a moment when all of that hair started flying around. Mono’s music felt majestic, almost orchestral.

See my photos of Mono and the Twilight Sad.

Mono at the Empty Bottle

Mono, a rock band from Japan, is one of the better instrumental groups going these days. I saw them a few years ago in Austin, and was glad to see them again last night at Chicago’s Empty Bottle. In the quiet moments, Mono’s musicians played guitar melodies with very little effect or distortion – just plain notes in beautiful precision. Then the songs burst out into blasts of ecstatic noise. They were fun to photograph, though as usual, the Bottle was pretty dark. And like all of those spooky supernatural beings in Japanese horror movies, the folks in Mono seem to like letting their hair hang down over their faces.

See my photos of Mono.