Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Man Man @ Mavericks, Ottawa, ON - 06/04

Calum Marsh

Wholly unsatisfied with just having recorded the best album of the year so far, the genreless Philly crew Man Man have wrangled yet another coveted title: Best Live Act of 2006. Yeah, yeah, we're barely half way through the year - but seriously, people, if I see a show in the next six months that's even half as good as this, it will be one hell of a good year.

Man Man drew in an unexpectedly large crowd by Ottawa's standards, requiring a last minute venue change that moved the show from the miniscule Cafe Dekcuf to the considerably larger (but still pretty damn small) Mavericks, which are convieniently located in the same building. The opening acts - one-man cover band Male Nurse and the acclaimed punk kids Million Dollar Marxists - were a strange fit for Man Man, which I suppose in its own way made sense. I figured the inclusion of the Million Dollar Marxists would make for an interesting crowd, but I only counted one mohawk the whole night (and it was a pretty tame one at that).

Male Nurse played to a crowd of about ten, and that was probably for the best: completely wasted and without a supporting band (apparently he "never usually does this"), the dazed and barely conscious kid exclusively played cover songs. The theme song from Family Matters and 'Jenni 867-5309' seemed like crowd favourites, which basically means that some guy in the back yelled "yeah!" after both. It was a sad and hilarious display of intoxicated bravado, punctuated by his own coy self-awarness ("this silly", he noted at one point), but funny or not, it was kind of waste of time. Things quickly picked up, though, when the Marxists hit the stage - though the crowd didn't seem like they were that into the music, they were at least responsive to the band's charisma and stage presense. People cheered for the band's drunken leader when he stumbled through the audience and laughed when he attempted to crush himself under the monitor - it was a strange and intense little set, a good appetizer for Man Man's main course.

Man Man put on a show unlike any I have ever seen before. Employing a loot bag of quasi-instruments and noise-making junk, it seemed like the group could and would do anything. Man Man's lead singer, Honus Honus, mentioned that watching Man Man peform was like watching a play - and that is indeed the best way to describe the experience. The stage was an elaborate set, designed to not only manage their space and keep everything they needed in just the right spot, but also to look interesting and fun. Like any musical, the visuals are just as important as the music. The band was even outfitted with matching costumes: white tennis gear, polo shirts, sweat-bands - and, of course, big beards. Gimmicky or not, the schtick worked; Man Man's act was so over-the-top and unbelievable that the audience couldn't help but be giddy with excitement. When Honus and the drummer, Pow Pow, began wildly jumping in the air in the middle of a song, smashing their instruments and making a lot of noise as they landed, the crowd cheered and laughed with the kind of unabashed joy seldom seen at an indie show. That whole "I'm too cool to be here" shit was dropped for the sake of - gasp - having fun. It was good to see a crowd of indie kids and music snobs let their precious guard down and just have a good time. After the show was all said and done, everyone was elated - the energy that pervaded the room during the set stuck around afterward; every person I saw on the way out was smiling largely, and all I heard were gushing raves. "We need this!", someone yelled out before the encore - a joke, yes, but in a way we all did. We loved that energy rush so much that to have it go away so soon was unthinkable. We want Man Man, dammit, and I'm so glad they delivered.

The set's highlights were the moustache-loving energy of "Push The Eagle's Stomach", the dramatic sing-along joy of "Ice Dogs", and the craziness that was "Engwish Bwudd". Here are some pictures from the night, courtesy of Jonathan:

If Man Man are coming to your hometown or somewhere nearby, I urge - nay, I command you to go. Best live act of 2006, everyone (although I'm seeing Radiohead on Saturday, so...).

Man Man - Engwish Bwudd

Man Man - Six Demon Bag
Man Man - The Man In The Turban

Man Man Interview 1
Man Man Interview 2
What's He Building There? (Man Man profile)

Comments on "Man Man @ Mavericks, Ottawa, ON - 06/04"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8/6/06 2:10 am) : 

Hey, it's the Man Man site!

More please.

Also: Casey, Geoff? Dead? Return and bring more man man.


Anonymous craig. said ... (8/6/06 6:35 pm) : 

this review was a waste of time. "sad and hilarious display of intoxicated bravado"??? get over yourself.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (9/6/06 8:13 am) : 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9/6/06 8:15 am) : 

Please stop with the Man Man
We get it

Or change the site's name


Blogger Jonathan Migneault said ... (9/6/06 11:52 am) : 

This is it for Man Man related posts. I don't think two posts is that big a deal. I mean really...


Blogger Geoff Trainor said ... (10/6/06 3:23 am) : 

I think it is four posts, but yeah, we've talked about other bands more than Man Man, I think.

I'm dead, but am on slight hiatus. I will try and get something together in a couple days.


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