Live Review: Monsterwatch

Tractor Tavern Seattle, WA 

Contact: [email protected] 

Web: monsterwatchnoise.com 

Players: John Spinney, guitars, vocals; Ben Parker, bassist; David Cubine, drums 

Material: Monsterwatch is a frenetically heavy psych-punk band based in the Emerald City. The trio embraces the dissonant sludgy guitar sounds made popular during Seattle’s gilded grunge days (Nirvana, Mudhoney) but blasts them into modernity by blending brutal 

post-hardcore beats (Metz, Turnstile), fuzzy hallucinogenics (The Black Angels, Thee Oh Sees /Osees), and sardonic art-edged tonalities (IDLES, Fontaines D.C.). Monsterwatch’s lyrics explore the concept of psychological thrills and existential crises, finding purpose and meaning in lives filled with despair. 

Musicianship: The trio’s overall visceral musical technique is striking. Frontman John Spinney’s vocals easily flow from haunting lows to lofty screams throughout. As a guitarist, Spinney’s playing is blistering, fretting power chords as well as guitar solos with precision even while playing upside down (which is often). Bassist Ben Parker creates deep counter melodies with influences that include Matt Freeman’s (Rancid) arpeggiation stylings as well as Peter Hook’s (Joy Division) “hooky” bass lines. Drummer David Cubine’s hard-powered hitting and his skill in keeping varied time signatures is impressive, especially when working in clean, expressive supersonic fills. 

Performance: Monsterwatch stepped onto the Tractor Tavern’s stage awash in swirling, screeching sound effects. The band casually took their places and after a quick “Hey Seattle, what’s up!,” plummeted into a pure punk fiasco starting with “Let Go.” Monsterwatch immediately moved into “Lick the Wall,” with lead singer Spinney bending over backward while sticking his tongue in the air. The band continued the chaotic vibe as John climbed a speaker cabinet, motioning the crowd to move closer. Their raised arms prompted John to jump in, crowd surfing on his knees. The show ended with the darkly harsh “Big Sin” and maniacal “Brain Twist.” Monsterwatch signed off with Spinney handing his guitar to the crowd before the trio disappeared backstage. 

Summary: Monsterwtach is an extremely talented, vicious psych-punk trio. Their live show highlights the band’s ability to effortlessly blend a wide range of musical influences from grunge to metal core with polished finesse and fierce rawness.