—By Ryan Ledesma
2016 marks eighteen years that El Monstero has been playing, and while I’m late to the game (my first show was Art Hill, 2014), their performance never ceases to amaze me. The same can be said for their performance this past Thursday (December 29) at The Pageant.
As a show, they are constantly evolving year to year, increasing the showmanship and adding new elements to the experience, (did you see the helicopter they brought in to fly over the crowd at their summer show this year?). It’s the band’s never ending push to perfection why they sell out a week’s worth of concerts every year.
While they always play the Pink Floyd classics that everyone expects to hear, they like to throw in a couple more obscure songs for the die-hards. This year they opened with an amazingly done ‘Lucifer Sam’, (from Pink Floyd’s first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn). This came complete with 60’s go go dancers and tons of psychedelic flair, before going into their usual medley of The Wall.
Following The Wall, they took it way back to early Floyd days with ‘Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun’ and ‘Echoes’, off of Saucerful of Secrets and Meddle, respectively. Another nugget was the first half’s closer, ‘Two Suns in the Sunset’, the last song from The Final Cut.
Those familiar with the show would have recognized most of the theatrics from the first half, the neo-Nazi costumes and exotic dancers, elements that have been in the show since I have been attending. But I noticed something new that was a great improvement this year; the visuals playing on the big screen. In the past some of the displays seemed a little amateurish, just goofy animated graphics, but this year they have been replaced with magnificent footage and beautiful time lapses that really fill in and compliment the music and light show more than I thought possible. Once the lights and videos get in full swing during one of the power jams like ‘Shine on’, it’s just a fully immersive experience that is hard to describe as anything but just awesome!
The band opened up the second half with a couple newer songs, ‘High Hopes’ and ‘Take it Back’ off of The Division Bell, before getting back into the older stuff with ‘Sheep’ and ‘Have a Cigar’
During Dark Side of the Moon, (yeah, they played the whole Dark Side of the Moon) it really hit home as to how great this show is in such an intimate venue such as The Pageant. The lights and the sound just seem to fill every nook and cranny of the venue, while the stage is overflowing with amazing visuals. As much as I enjoyed the bigger outdoor shows, its is a totally different experience when you see it in this intimate setting.
After finishing off Dark Side and exiting the stage, the band came back out to put the final layer of icing on top of the cake. The encore of ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’ had the whole crowd singing and waving lights, while the end of the last solo exploded in light and confetti. It was truly an outstanding end to an outstanding show.
Whether you are a life-long Saint Louisan or a newcomer to the area, if you have never seen the spectacle that is El Monstero, you are doing yourself a great disservice.