Monophonics (photo: Carolyn McCoy)
If you have yet to experiencing a live show from Bay Area soul-rockers Monophonics, you must know that the main reason for going to one of their shows is so that you can dance — like, really dance. Try as you might, being a wallflower or sitting in your chair is next to impossible, as the funky groove-music of Monophonics is so high-energy, so completely soul-inspiring, so incredibly mesmerizing, uplifting, and joyful, your feet and your ass will take on a mind of their own and make you move. To some people, their shows are “church,” to others it’s like a really awesome and nasty round of “aural” sex — it’s God and The Devil all in one experience.
There are moments during a Monophonics show where frontman Kelly Finnegan may look at you full-on and, with his soulful voice, sing right into your eyes and you can’t look away. It’s like he’s singing just to you while giving you a peek inside his soul. But then you realize that you are not alone, that the countless humans gyrating beside you are all having a similar moment with him, and you understand that these shows are defiantly a communal trip.
Their recent show at Santa Rosa’s quirky Flamingo Resort held a packed dance floor with a very applicative crowd. Hitting on songs from their various albums, the band kept things in the groove with such favorites as “There’s A Riot Going On,” “It’s Only Us,” “Tunnel Vision,” “Promises,” “Foolish Love,” and a killer ending with “Bang Bang.” All their songs are high energy, even if the lyrics speak of heartbreak, deception and broken promises. With the horns of Alex Bakey (sax) and Ryan Scott (trumpet), there is a feeling that the music is alive and breathing, with the backbeat of Austin Bohlman (drums) and Max Ramey (bass), the music has a heartbeat, and with the shredding guitar of newest member Lito Magana, there is a contemporary vibe that makes the music fresh and new. And then then there is Finnegan with his keyboards and organ, his many facial expressions and his ability to gesticulate wildly to make his point with the words he is singing with the deepest part of his being, giving his all with every note he sings
Monophonics are all about soul. They make their music with a deep understanding of the legacy of old school funk and soul of the ’60s and ’70s; they carry on the tradition of music born in the Stax era of soul and bring it to the current era. They are internationally known, they have had songs on major televisions shows, and they are constantly changing and growing with the next steps of their musical journey. By creating hybrid sounds, they keep the fans on their toes and on the dance floor. The members are all incredible and professional players, holding down their parts in a band where the music comes first.