Mono + Rose Kemp @ The Asylum 16th March 2010


Gig goers of Birmingham lend me your ears. There is an excellent scene for you to enjoy. This little pocket of joy comes courtesy of Capsule. I have only just discovered this cornucopia of musical delights but apparently it has been going on under your noses for 10 year. This year alone I have had my ears opened to Lightning Bolt and Tweak Bird among others.

So, this week we are at the Asylum watching Rose Kemp and Mono. The Asylum is quite a large venue to fill as I know from bitter experience and although it was not full it was comfortably crowded as we arrived at the beginning of Rose Kemp’s set.

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It is always difficult for me to listen to an electric guitar and vocal performance without thinking ‘this needs drums, loads of drums’ and the atmospheric eerie performance was no exception. This is not to say that Rose is not an excellent artist and truly spell binding to watch. I specifically chose the words in that last sentence as Rose Kemp looks and sounds like she is carrying out some kind of ancient séance. A cross between Bjork and a medieval folk singer dressed in a black cape the music from the guitar complimenting and sometimes clashing with her vocals the sound went from Gregorian chanting to metal power chords. Rose Kemp is an accomplished musician more than capable of holding your ear and your attention.


So now onto the main course Mono. Our photographer Mark reliably informs me that this is where ‘it’ all comes from. Never mind Hella and Lightning Bolt, these are the masters. I am very sceptical when anyone tells me this and not knowing much about the scene I find myself approaching the gig with a certain amount of apathy.

This apathy lightened as they started with beautiful guitar harmonies and a xylophone. OK- nice, pretty sound. Then Holy F*ck where did that come from! My apathy wiped out with a torrent of distortion and feedback. This is a band that writes anthems proving the versatility of the guitar to delight and also obliterate eardrums. As one of our friends Nick mentioned they have songs that build up from no where. They don’t build up, they leap out on you when you least expect it. One of the songs even made me jump when the drums came in without any warning whatsoever.


A truly mesmerising band and listening to them you find yourself lost in a little bubble of your own, oblivious to those around you.. Well done Mark another excellent choice and well done Capsule for putting on another great band.

Words: Jonny P
photos: Mark Hoy

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