Avante-garde seems the easy description for Yonatan Gat.
The Israel-born guitarist was part of the punk trio Monotonix, which was infamous for live performances that were a sweaty mess of noise and bodies, thrown thrash and fire. The band played 1,000 shows in its five-year run.
As a solo artist, Gat tempers the punk angst with free-jazz freakouts and world-music sounds — from Chicano rock to Afro-Brazilian soul and Middle Eastern surf-rock. Still, his current project — with bassist Sergio Sayeg and drummer Gal Lazer — pushes the boundaries of the band-audience relationship, eschewing the stage and setting up amongst the crowd. Earlier this month the band released “Director,” an 11-track improv-psych-punk epic of an album and awed music critics at South by South West. I emailed Gat in advance of tonight’s show at Visalia’s Cellar Door.
People seem to freak out that you shy away from playing on stage and prefer to get right there in the crowd. Why do you think that is?
Sometimes, when we play smaller shows in smaller towns – people are not sure what to do with themselves in the beginning – it’s true. I usually just tell them they can come closer. Stand right on us. It’s just unusual for a band to set up this way. Although it’s pretty dumb that bands don’t. The stage is only needed for elevation when the place is too big and people can’t see you. And if you’re in front of the PA – well, that’s your monitors. When we play bigger venues, we use our own tiny stage and set it in the middle of the room and people can stand around us. The idea is that people can get close, stand in every position around us in an attempt to create a more direct communication with the audience. At the moment, I’m not interested in being an avant-garde band playing to themselves and other musicians. We are on the floor with the people because what we get from the audience goes into the show, into the songs we choose to play, into our musical decisions while improvising, into the length of the set, into the dynamic of the playing.
If you dig two-minute-long, screw-everything punk/garage rock, go see Broncho tonight at Fulton 55. The Oklahoma band plays with two Fresno vets: It’ll Grow Back (a punk band that keeps things short and energetic) and Sparklejet (a power three-piece who keeps things loud and … ummm, loud). It’s a treat to see Sparklejet these days, let alone on a Monday night.
Below you can check out a cool Broncho cut called “I Don’t Really Want to be Social.” Gives you a good idea of what the band is about. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Tickets: $5-7.
1. SEE REGGAE ROYALTY The Wailers — you know, they played with that dude Bob Marley, perhaps you’ve heard of him? — headline Tower Theatre on Sunday. It’s a special matinee show, starting at 3 p.m., with a number of local acts starting things off, peeps like Patrick Contreras and More Than Without. [Tickets]
BROTHER LUKE & EVERYBODY HE KNOWS: Indie vet Brother Luke isn’t just bringing his Comrades to Tuesday night’s CD release/tour kick-off show at Audie’s Olympic. He’s bringing a handful of Fresno friends — 14 people total, including musicians from bands such as Rademacher, Achievement House and Fay Wrays.
MORE JOURNEY: If it seems like the music of Journey is everywhere — then I’m happy to know I’m not the only one who thinks that right now. Here’s another example: You can catch popular local tribute band Midnight Run headlining Tower Theatre on Saturday night.
ALL LAUGHS: On-the-rise comic Ian Edwards is at Starline on Saturday night, and a lot of the local comedy folks are gushing over this one. Here’s one routine of his I especially dig.
If you remember fondly the days when Pinkeye and Kat Jones were some of the top indie rock names in town, then you’re in luck on this Christmas Eve Eve.
Jones, who now lives in Nashville, is home for the holidays and playing tonight at Audie’s Olympic with Pinkeye, who is doing what’s becoming an annual reunion gig.
Pinkeye, if you’re not familiar, was the coolest indie rock band in town in the days before Rademacher and includes well-known musicians like Bad Andy (of Bad Andy & The Sunburns) and Niilo Smeds (of Wheels of Fortune and High Winds. (Sidenote: If you know them, you know this “Peanuts”-style flier of them is AWESOME!)
A couple current local groups join them on the bill: high-powered rockers The Fay Wrays, who were recently named one of the top 100 unsigned live band by Music Connection, and punk faves It’ll Grow Back, which is fronted by our bud Famous Whitewater.
You might remember, that I’m a proponent of creating an ArtHop offshoot called RockHop. Tonight is ArtHop, and we also have a few good local music happenings. So it’s kinda like RockHop. Just unofficial.
The traditional post-ArtHop hipster hangout has the traditional post-ArtHop indie rock band — Rademacher.
1. TRIP OUT AT AUDIE’S
Two trippy SoCal bands — Gram Rabbit and Spindrift — return to Fresno tonight for a gig at Audie’s Olympic. Between the two bands, expect a mixture of psychedelic, spaghetti western-tinged rock. Rad local band Strange Vine opens.
FULL CIRCLE TURNS 10 Full Circle Brewing Co., the fun little brewery in Chinatown, celebrates its 10-year anniversary with ArtHop and live music. If you’ve never been, it’s quite the interesting place to explore.
ROCK AND WORSHIP
The Rock and Worship Roadshow stops at Save Mart Center again. Last year, it was one of the biggest attended concerts of the year, drawing more than 13,000 people. Read up on what to expect at this year’s show in this interview with headliners Mercy Me. Tickets cost a mere $10 and are available at the door only.
BURLESQUE AT AUDIE’S
April Fool’s Burlesque? Well, tease me twice. It’s happening at Audie’s Olympic, for your post-ArtHop pleasure.
For one of its final shows before closing its current location, Zapp’s Park is going out in style. And by “in style” we mean loud, energetic and possibly offensive. But that’s Zapp’s Park for ya. A bunch of a punk bands — including one we really like — will be cranking up the volume. According to its calendar, this is the second to last show at Zapp’s, which is hoping to move to a larger venue in the coming months.