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Anyone who had been to Monkey Mania even once walked away with a story to tell. In fact, choosing just one great show from Monkey Mania is next to impossible. It was a haven for loud-as-fuck rock and roll tailor made to appeal to bands that loved to experiment. The building itself was a haven of history though its many iterations (the Purple Room, Wilted Warehouse, the Arapahoe Warehouse, Monkey Mania, Kingdom of Doom) that played host to some of Denver's finest bands and culture. Throughout its life we saw Mr. Pacman eat hot dogs on stage, Zombie Zombie tear things apart with a gas-mask microphone, the Kindercide punch people in the front row as well as countless one-offs involving basketballs, organs and xylophones.
All that said, there is one show to rule them all in our book, and that was the maybe-possibly-perhaps-if we're lucky appearance of Sonic Youth after their show at the Ogden. If the tension of waiting wasn't enough, we were treated to a hot room and some awesome noise from Wolf Eyes and Friends Forever, who played in their trademark style outside from their van (a welcome release from the heat).
There was a lot of waiting -- nobody was truly or completely certain whether Sonic Youth was actually going to show up. We stuck around because Josh Taylor, the man behind Monkey Mania assured us they would -- and we trusted Josh like a brother because he was just that kind of dude. He was the type of guy that could get you excited about anything because he was excited about everything -- no matter what the band. He didn't have much trouble getting people excited for Sonic Youth, though.
There's no real way to figure out how many people were actually stuffed inside the tiny warehouse waiting -- but it was probably the most full it had ever been, except perhaps for the Lightning Bolt show or the final going-away show. By the time Wolf Eyes was playing, people were stuffed in there so tightly it was next to impossible to breathe. People were sitting on the rafters, on the floor, in the kitchen -- it was an absolute and total madhouse.
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Sonic Youth showed up, and It was clear from the start of their set this wasn't going to be a rehash of their earlier show. This was something completely new. It was wild, experimental and everything we'd come to expect from Sonic Youth, in a setting more intimate than most of us could have ever wished for.
There was absolutely no denying the fact that Monkey Mania was the place to be that evening. The show was talked about around water coolers for weeks after, and still sits in our memories as one of the most exceptional feats of awesome to grace Denver's warehouse scene in its long history. The final show there, which featured some bajillion bands was a beautiful send-off, as well, but somehow Sonic Youth's showing up stands cleaner in our memories, perhaps because it felt so impossible at the time.
How about you? What's your favorite memory from Monkey Mania?