[ATTENDED: July 21, 2014] Man Man
I went to the Starland Ballroom to see Gogol Bordello, but I was pretty excited that Man Man was opening. I really only knew them from three things. Their fairly popular (at least on WXPN) song “Head On [Hold On To Your Heart]” a synthy treacly delight (that really belies the bands manic energy) and “Paul’s Grotesque” a newer song (for XPN) that I didn’t actually realize was Man Man. And, third, and most compelling, was their video for “Black Mission Goggle” live at Amoeba Records (which you can see at the bottom of the post). In it they proved to be immensely silly and yet still quite talented. And I love a band who can put on a show (which is why I wanted to see Gogol Bordello in the first place).
And Man Man did not disappoint. The four piece came out on stage, with Brown Sugar, the bassist/Schatzaphone/percussionist/malletKAT player on the right side, Pow Pow, the drummer (whose kit was sideways), right in the middle and Shono Murphy the guitarist/trumpeter/percussionist on the left. After playing an instrumental opening, Honus Honus, singer, keyboards and all around head honcho came out in a glorious cape, looking like Dave Grohl when he’s most possessed.
And then he launched into the first full song. I don’t know any of their other songs except the ones listed above (and I’m looking forward to seeing the set list if someone could please post it). But seeing some other set lists and listening on Spotify, I’ve pieced together some of the songs.
But it was at the end of lead track “End Boss” with Honus Honus walking around saying “666” and laying his hand-as-a-6 on the hands of everyone in the front row that I knew the show was going to be wild and fun (the girl with the 18 inch high mohawk should have clued me in too). As the song came to a raucous close, the crowd launched into a chaotic mosh pit (the kind I haven’t seen in ages because I don’t go to clubs like this much these days). I was impressed by the rowdiness. But after getting my feet stomped on a few times, I knew it was time to back up a bit (no one can slam dance with a phone in his pocket).
By the middle of their set, the slam dancing had grown considerably and the body surfing was constant. Ah, kids these days. I really didn’t anticipate this at the show (nothing like it happened at King’s X, a metal band).
The strange thing is that rather than this show making me feel old (I was never much of a slam dancer anyway), it just made me feel really short. When did kids get so tall? I couldn’t see anything. So I had to leave the floor and stand on the eaves for a much better view.
I couldn’t believe how loud and wild the band was (their latest album is certainly more subtle), but they did play “Head On” and it sounded great amidst the chaos–there was even some (sort of) slow dancing to be seen in the crowd before the wildness resumed.
After a few songs Honus Honus emerged in a glorious white fur and proceeded to sing another song. But for the most part he sat at the keyboards and conducted the set facing the drummer (who was wild and manic and super fun as well and even hit his cymbals with the beach ball that landed on his drum kit). Indeed all four guys were filled with synchronized energy.
They all had drum mallets at one point. They all held their hands up to signal the start of a song. They even got the audience to scream along. I loved that at the close of one of the songs both Honus Honus and Pow Pow leapt from their seats simultaneously and landed in time to keep the beat (they did this I believe three times). Another time, Pow Pow clicked his sticks together five times in a row (over and over) to get the band to play a loud chord. For the amount of lunacy, they were tight as a drum.
For the final song all four members leapt in the air in synch with the pauses. Three or four times, the guitarist for Gogol Bordello came out in a weird costume and marched around the stage, but he wasn’t the most interesting thing to look at by a long shot.
I know they played “Deep Cover” “Loot My Body” “Head On” “Pink Wonton” “Zebra” (from The Man in Blue Turban with Face) and they closed the set with a manic “Young Einstein on the Beach” (from Six Demon Bag) which is only a minute on the record but was a lengthy punk blast of fun.
It was an insane and wild show from start to finish from crowd to band and I would absolutely see them again.
And here’s their zaniness from Amoeba.