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Video of the Moment #1531: Mona

By on Saturday, 31st May 2014 at 10:00 am

I don’t know if I can deal with discovering this week another favourite band’s line-up has changed. But it appears it’s happened with Nashville-based Mona. Something was definitely going on back in January when ‘Like You Do’ premiered. The less hard rock trend continues with ‘Wasted’; how the heck did I miss their 2013 album ‘Torches and Pitchforks’? While I chew on that thought, watch the video for ‘Wasted’ below.



Video of the Moment #1424: Mona

By on Monday, 13th January 2014 at 6:00 pm

Nashville-based rockers Mona seem to have turned the corner from their hard-rocking roots, if their new promo is anything to go by. The video is for ‘Like You Do’, and frontman Nick Brown has a great interview with Flaunt Magazine here that explains the video more.

Visually, its stark black and white presentation is more the 1975, while the song’s sound is more introspective and less about their better known, wilder rock persona, as Brown says in the interview, “I really wanted to push, not just for MONA and myself but I wanted to push the bookends a little wider for artists in general. Even if you get stereotyped as something, even if it’s good, it’s pushing beyond that.” Watch it below.



Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with Mona at Warner Theater, Washington DC – 28th March 2012

By on Tuesday, 3rd April 2012 at 2:00 pm

Warner Theater in the heart of downtown DC – read: ghastly dead after normal working hours and on the weekends – usually puts on shows of a genteel nature. Christmas productions of the Nutcracker come to mind, for example; it started out as a vaudeville and silent film house. But every once in a while, their staff will open its doors to put on rock shows of a higher calibre: think David Byrne and Morrissey, two acts I’d seen there previously. Last Wednesday night, it played host to one half of the most contentious partnerships of Manchester, Noel Gallagher and his solo project called Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. While waiting around for the show to begin, I could hear assorted male English accents in the crowd. Clearly, Noel’s devoted from blighty had made the trip over for this tour…

While Reverend and the Makers supported Noel and his band on their recent jaunt around the UK, opening duties in America fell to TGTF 10 for 2011 poll winners Mona. I was super proud of them for bagging this slot and hoped this would be their ticket to fame here in the States, after having quite a bit of traction as an NME darling in Britain last year. Despite having a banner that clearly read “MONA” as their backdrop, security stopped me and asked who the opening band was. Umm…

‘Teenager’ early on in their set didn’t disappoint, and neither did ‘Lean into the Fall’, in which Nick Brown’s screams were received admirably by early arriving patrons. ‘Shooting the Moon’, with its emphatic “I am / I am / I am! / shooting the moon!” chorus and screeched verses, stirred punters. Similar to when I saw Two Door Cinema Club open for Phoenix at a sold-out Constitution Hall in May 2010, I pity the fools who were drinking outside and missed a great set from the Nashville-based rockers.

Compared to those I’ve seen of Jonsi and Cut Copy, Gallagher’s lighting backdrop was disappointing, featuring either simple coloured light displays with or animations of houses or memorably, the open mouth of an old man (who I guess doesn’t care for Noel Gallagher or his music). Epileptic strobe lighting filled in the gaps. But as you’ve probably already guessed, everyone who bought a ticket to this show was a living, breathing Oasis fanatic, so he could have showed up onstage with nothing but his guitar and the fans still would have considered the show a success and would have come. I think it’s important, though, to note that despite the bill, the show was not sold out. Either people weren’t willing to shell out the big bucks for a Warner Theatre show, or he just doesn’t have enough fans in this town. [Editor’s note: despite signing a contract stating that I would only use my photos of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds for editorial purposes (e.g., for TGTF) and not for commercial purposes (a moot point, since I photograph gigs using a point and shoot Panasonic Lumix), his management decided not to allow me to use any photos I took of Noel and his band Wednesday night. If you’re desperate for visuals, I suggest you Google “Noel Gallagher Warner Theater video” and you will find tonnes of ROIOs taken by fans on similar equipment.]

Another thing of note: though the Gallagher brothers have parted ways, it’s Noel who has made more of a departure from their old band’s sound. His debut solo album smacks more of introspective singer songwriting than of the stadium anthems he used to pen for his former band, which works only to a limited extent in a large venue such as this. So it’s not a surprise he starts his set with two guaranteed crowd pleasers, ‘(It’s Good) To Be Free’ and ‘Mucky Fingers’, before trying out ‘Everybody’s on the Run’. Make no question about it, everyone here’s already got his album and are singing along note for note, just like on the previous Oasis numbers. Stood there, you feel like you’re surrounded by a large gang, and you’re either part of it or not. I’m an Oasis fan – ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ was an important album in my childhood – but I realised quickly that I wasn’t anywhere near as big of a fan as the people that surrounded me. The encore, composed entirely of Oasis songs, proves that Noel knows what his fans are expecting when they come to see him play.

If you were wondering if the elder Gallagher still has that foul mouth, the answer is yes. Some may find his brand of humour endearing – and I’m guessing if you’re an average bloke, you are included in this group – but he’s kind of offensive when he talks down to the crowd. In general I don’t find my mates from Manchester anywhere near as crass; certainly they’ve never said to a child that he should look forward to all the cussing and swearing he will get to do when he’s older. Err… Or maybe they are censoring themselves around me? I’ve no idea. While I ‘get’ that him swearing about how dare his usual keyboardist go and get his wife pregnant and she had the nerve to have the baby during this leg of his tour is funny in a sarcastic way, call me a prude, but I think it’s a low and unnecessary blow.

Sarcastic barbs aside, there were some clear winning songs in the set. ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’, one of few songs in the Oasis back catalogue that Noel sang lead on back in the day that he can claim as being the lead singer legitimately, closed out the encore. I’ve seen big productions where singers stop singing altogether to allow the audience to belt their hearts out, and here is one of those times where predictably, everyone in the venue is yelling towards the stage, “and so, Sally can wait, she knows it’s too late…” This is probably Noel’s everyday gigging life, as he comfortably stepped back from the mike to concentrate on his guitar. Narcissistic moment? Definitely. But it’s something that Noel can count on for years to come.

After the cut: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds with Mona at Warner Theater, Washington DC – 28th March 2012


MP3 of the Day #496: Mona

By on Friday, 24th February 2012 at 10:00 am

Mona, who were nothing short of amazing last Saturday night here in Washington, have released a piano version of ‘Lean Into the Fall’, the song we were told was going to be their first single off their debut album. It’s literally just singer Nick Brown’s voice over piano backing. A dangerous move for a lesser band, but I think this proves how strong Brown’s voice and the actual song are, if the guitars and drums are stripped away and there’s still a compelling performance. Gee, this treatment sounds and smells like Adele‘s ‘Someone Like You’…one can only hope that this band is destined to equally great things.


Live Review: Mona with the Silver Liners and the Rassle, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel, Washington DC – 18th February 2012

By on Monday, 20th February 2012 at 2:00 pm

Picture it: the 4th of August, 2010, Washington, DC. I’ve just taken over the reins as Editor of TGTF when I get an email from a PR company we’ve worked with for a while that read like this:

Hope you are well and enjoying the summer. We are looking after a new band who hail from Nashville. They go by the name of ‘Mona’ and we are honestly so excited about them! But don’t take my word for it, I have copied a link below where you can download their video for the new song “Listen To Your Love”. Would be really grateful if you would consider putting it up on the site?

It took me a couple days – admittedly, I felt a bit dubious about writing about a band from Nashville, considering I avoid Kings of Leon like the plague (overplayed on radio here) – but I finally got around to watching the said video and was definitely intrigued enough to want to post this early version video and spread the word about Mona. There was something about them that I couldn’t put my finger on, just from watching one of their videos. But I know what it is now, and it’s something that can’t be manufactured or bought: it’s heart. The band are currently on their first American headlining tour, which in hindsight sounds really unbelievable saying since they are American, as frontman Nick Brown commented Saturday night with a smirk, “we’re two rednecks and two white trash.” But you can’t deny the truth, that the band got their start over a year and half ago in front of UK audiences. Now, they’re ready to make their mark at home and DC’s show proved they’ve got the goods to be a truly successful act stateside.

Whether this was merely by chance, I’ll never know, but unlike Tuesday’s Slow Club gig, the openers held their own admirably against Mona. As you can probably guess, I’ve heard plenty of DC acts during my time as a blogger and not too many have really clicked with me. (Now that I think about it, the only two I can remember prior to this week that I really liked were Casper Bangs and Typefighter.) However, the first band, the Silver Liners, surprisingly impressed me. Music label / industry types reading this, take note: are you looking for a band with potential for mainstream success? I’d place my bets on this one (given proper industry support, of course).

When you’re a band people haven’t heard of before, it’s really hard to get the crowd behind you. A remarkably good cover of ‘1901’ did just that. They started their set with ‘American Girl’, which comes off just as sunny as any surf pop band that has done well in the UK over the last 2 years, except that unlike Best Coast and those other faux rock pretenders, I actually like it. (Haha.) My own confusion about them is why they decided to add keyboards; stylistically, they have a deft hand with songwriting and harmonisation, so I’m wondering if they’ve added the keyboards because they felt they had to, in order to compete with, say, MGMT, on the track ‘Without a Face’, for instance. I felt they were most successful when they stuck to a more traditional rock format. Their closing number ‘Don’t Wait’ (?) was punctuated by a very catchy melodic progression of “oh oh ohs” that resulted in getting the audience to shout back the same progression and the whole thing suggested We Are Scientists at their most frenetic. Good stuff.

The New York band the Rassle (actually two brothers plus a touring bassist and drummer) also has the surf pop type sound working for them, and they sound more like the Beach Boys than the Silver Liners in that regard (see: ‘Born Free’). Passable and enjoyable rock but nothing with a wow factor for me. I had trouble concentrating on this second support band because it felt like I was standing before rock royalty while watching them. Their touring drummer looked to be a fascinating cross between Noel Gallagher and Miles Kane; singer Blair Van Nort looks like and was dressed the part of Ian Brown. This band has already been picked by high-end leisure clothing chain J. Crew for interviews and fashion shoots (similar to what Burberry is doing in the UK [example with Dog is Dead]) so my guess is that they’re doing all right for themselves.

Mona’s set started with what I considered a surprise: Whitney Houston’s version of our national anthem, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, followed by the band coming on stage and Nick Brown saying with reverence, “rest in peace, Whitney Houston.” Rather than dwell on the sombre, Mona went straight to eleven from here, blasting out song after song in a frenzied yet still organised state of rock ‘n’ roll chaos. From the bombast of ‘Teenager’ to the irreverence of ‘Shooting the Moon’ (followed by my notebook getting ‘blessed’ by the stomp of Brown’s boot, then my near escaping decapitation by a wayward microphone), from newer song and anthemic ‘Pavement’ to crowd-pleaser and first single ‘Lean Into the Fall’, they hit the spot each and every time.

After Slow Club’s fabulous cover of Pulp’s ‘Disco 2000′ on Tuesday, I doubted anything could top that all year . Leave it to Mona to come back with an encore including a raucous rendition of the Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ that resulted in a massive singalong in this little hole in the wall on H Street. This is the kind of music that runs through your veins and makes your heart beat race and soar, and you feel grateful to be alive. That’s the power and gift of good music. And my heart swelled with so much pride, seeing a band that I had helped in my own little way a long time ago by promoting their song ‘Listen To Your Love’ (see video below), coming of age and hitting their stride at just the right moment. The world is for their taking.



Live Review: The Joy Formidable with the Lonely Forest and Mona at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 25th March 2011

By on Tuesday, 29th March 2011 at 2:00 pm

The Joy Formidable brought their ‘Big Roar’ with a vengeance to the DC area Friday night on their second visit ever to the Black Cat. The band’s first appearance here, at the smaller Backstage, was a revelation, definitely in my top 5 gigs of 2010. Support for the evening was provided by a band you may not have heard of – the Lonely Forest, from Anacortes, Washington – and one you definitely heard of – MTV Brand New for 2011 and TGTF 10 for 2011 winner Mona.

Both bands had liveliness that showed they were worthy of opening for the North Wales band. They’re heroes back in the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t think they’re very well known on this side of the States. No matter though: in their 30 minute set, they managed to win over the crowd with their energy (the guitarists of the Lonely Forest used the drum riser for a jumping off point) and with their humbleness: their singer Jon Van Deusen apologised to a punter for not playing the song he requested, but instead offered to play it acoustically after the show to him. Who does that? Bless.

Mona hasn’t played that many gigs in America yet, and actually, this tour with the Joy Formidable is their first real outing in the States. I wondered how they’d go down, considering they’re a whole lot better known in Britain that they are here. I shouldn’t have worried: the amount of raw guitar fire power they had was amazing. ‘Listen to Your Love’ went down a treat, the audience singing along and cheering the band on. They have the tough guy look but when they play, it’s just pure rock ‘n’ roll, man. I look forward to seeing them finally gain the kind of recognition they deserve at home.

It was late, but the crowd was ready for who they’d all come to see, the Joy Formidable. The entire place was rammed. ‘The Big Roar’ was finally released in mid-March here, 2 months after it had been released in the UK. But at least down the front, I was surrounded by Joy Formidable diehards – next to me was a lad who was an obvious devotee, shouting loudly the entire night along with Ritzy Bryan (it was both amusing and annoying). Even though the three of them – Bryan (lead vocals / guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass / vocals) and Matt Thomas (drums) – physically did not take up a lot of room on the Black Cat stage, they made up for it in volume and enthusiasm.

Number after number, they proved yet again why they were one of my favourite live acts of 2010. Songs that are now classic Joy Formidable – ‘Cradle’, ‘Austere’, ‘Whirring’ – were played alongside what are soon to be classics, like ‘A Heavy Abacus’ and ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie’ from ‘The Big Roar’. All the while, the band put their blood, sweat and tears on the line to perform for us. Some detractors have complained that the Joy Formidable are nothing but loud. But on this night we know that deep down, there is heart and purpose to what they do, and they do it so well. At the end I could feel my brain melting. I can’t wait to see them again.

More photos and set list after the cut. The full Joy Formidable in-person interview will post on TGTF soon, but in the meantime, you can read their answers to the TGTF Quickfire Questions here.

Continue reading Live Review: The Joy Formidable with the Lonely Forest and Mona at Black Cat, Washington, DC – 25th March 2011


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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