For a few hours on a Thursday, the sleepy hamlet of Normal, Illinois was completely owned by Moneen.
But first, the openers.
Due to circumstances entirely beyond our control [those being getting a kickass dinner at Avanti's Italian Restaurant], we missed The Servos, instead arriving as Moneen's tourmates The Fullblast were assembling onstage. The Fullblast, in short, ripped it up. This Canadian quintet brought to mind the first time I heard The Get Up Kids' Four Minute Mile mixed with the first time I heard Saves The Day's Can't Slow Down. They were technical without sacrificing stage presence, emotional without being sloppy, and frankly they rocked it pretty hardcore. For an incredibly simplistic comparision, think of the emo version of Lagwagon. Anyway, the Fullblast got two thumbs up and then some.
Unfortunately I can't say the same for hometown band The Junior Varsity. Bland emo-rock with a horribly misused keyboard was the theme of their set. We had more fun playing air hockey.
After that pockmark was swept offstage, Moneen delivered one of the most powerful sets by any band I've seen in recent memory. Frontman Kenny had enthusiasm coming out of every pore in his body, and it quickly spread throughout the venue faster than pure rage [and no blood had to be shed even!]. Unfortunately, the crowd got a little too rowdy a few songs into Moneen's set and the show was within an inch of being shut down due to a handful of kids getting a bit out of control. Kenny calmed down the rabble rousers, who then turned into the "no shirt brigade." About 10 of these young men stripped off their t-shirts and waved them around their heads for the next 30 minutes or so. It was unusual, but it seemed to fit Moneen, strangely.
The band ran through a good portion of Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? as well as a few older songs such as "No better way to how your love than a set of broken legs" and the crowd-pleaser "The Passing of America." Closing with their now classic "Start Angry... End Mad," the rabid crowd pumped their fists along with the repeated chants of "Die! Die!", dumping all they had into the last song, just as the band onstage was doing.
There are few bands I would drive 4 hours total to go see on a weeknight, and Moneen is definitely one of them. The Fullblast only made the show even sweeter. Check this tour out if it's within a gas tank's distance of you, you'll come away a better person.