Living in New York, it can get pretty difficult to judge the relative popularity of bands outside the city. I knew Philadelphia’s Man Man had been getting a lot of good press ever since release of their most recent LP Six Demon Bag but nothing prepared me to for the rabid fans they attracted last Sunday. At the front of the audience, costume-clad attendees appeared to be having seizures of pure enjoyment, convulsing to the music and yelling like maniacs, while a rotund, bearded man wearing only swim trunks shouted that he was going to be the most famous man in France. While I have a feeling that this level of spectacle is hard to sustain in places other than New York City (I have a difficult time picturing this sort of thing in, say, my own Portland, Maine), it’s still a mark of how far Man Man has come since the days when they were playing basement shows attended primarily by their friends.
Man Man, for their part, lived up to the ridiculous scene unfolding around them by delivering a set of rousing circus blues, simultaneously tightly coordinated and haphazardly unpredictable. Cultivated disarray, perhaps. Honestly, they’re sounding better than ever these days, most exhilarating at their most disheveled and with band members suddenly dropping xylophone mallets to launch into free sax solos, and everyone barking along with the music as they bang on actual pots, pans, and a fire extinguisher. Clad in their now-standard Tennis-whites-and-war-paint dress code, the band tore through old favorites (“10 lb Moustache”) and new (“Black Mission Goggles”) and the audience — sorry, I’m back on the audience again — responded by throwing articles of clothing onto the stage. And when the guy MCing the show popped up at the end to demand “Does Brooklyn want more Man Man?” they really, really did.
Incidently, none of these dramatic photos are mine, but the contributions of guest photographer Sam Horine.