There are some artists that you come across that have such a clear vision and focus of what their sound is and how they wish to present it, that it’s such a startling discovery when you’re exposed to it. This especially rang true for me when I came across Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly, otherwise known as paris_monster. Even the “all lowercase, separated by an underscore” formation of their band name is something to perk you up and make you pay closer attention.
The band’s show at Rockwood Music Hall this past Saturday was full of eager fans of the band, bursting at the seams with anticipation. Having arrived an hour and a half early, I can count myself amongst them. All eyes were on Josh as he set up what I like to refer to as his “bunker of musical toys.” Drums, synths, and a classic microphone are all the tools needed to create such a spectacle; it’s literally impossible to look away for more than a second. Josh plays his instruments with such fervor, jerking in time with the beats – the music seems to burst from him at every angle, wild, uninhibited and uncontrollable. But that wild, uncontrollable element of his performance is also part of the beauty. I couldn’t imagine the amount of concentration and coordination it takes to play so many instruments and sing at the same time. Oh yes, the singing. He really sings, like when someone says to “sing from the gut,” just imagine a picture of Josh’s face as the definition.
It would also be a mistake for me not to mention Geoff, the man on bass and modular synth, which I referred to “that badass alien-looking switchboard thing” on more than one occasion during the night. Geoff was able to coax a myriad of sounds out of his instruments with measured precision, and his steady groove was a constant that tethered us to the solid ground, often times serving as the backbone of the songs.
Burning through all of the tracks on their 5-track EP, It Once Had Been Kind, the duo also managed to squeeze a few new songs into the mix, which made us even more eager for a full-length record. As they played, I scanned the room, which was peppered with fellow musicians, as well as fans and newcomers, and watched the entire front row lurching back and forth in time with the music, each wearing some form of stankface. Now if you don’t know what “stankface” is, it’s when the music is just so incredibly funky, so disarmingly good it causes you to make that face. Yes, the entire front row.
What Josh Dion and Geoff Kraly have managed to capture with paris_monster is the kind of thing that doesn’t come along often and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next.
Article by: Lesley Keller