Band offers an interesting change of pace for concert-goers
CU’s Club 156 was packed Monday night as the Philadelphia-based band Man Man infected the crowd with high energy and unusual instrumentation.
Man Man released their first full-length album in 2004 and just announced that they will be touring with Modest Mouse on an upcoming tour. Man Man has frequently been compared to Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart, with a circus-like sound.
The band consists of Honus Honus (vocals and Rhodes synth), Sergei Sogay (percussion), Les Mizzle (bass, percussion), Christopher “Pow Pow” Powell (percussion and vocals), Alejandro “Cougar” Borg (marimba and trumpet) and Blanco (trumpet, piano, guitar, clarinet and cello).
Although just listening to the band’s music is an experience in itself, seeing them live is priceless. The five-man band entered the small stage all wearing white pants and shirts, some of the band members wearing samurai-style sashes around their heads, and some were sporting white war-paint smudges on their faces.
Even their stage setup was unique. Instead of the typical drums in the back, guitar and bass on the side and lead singer in the front, the drummer and lead singer/pianist sat in the front facing each other, while the other three members stood closely behind.
Man Man use unique instruments to create their distinctive sound. Marimba and xylophone make up a large part of the band’s sound, as well as trumpet, saxophone, melodica (a keyboard-like harmonica which produces an accordion-like sound), various keyboards and percussion, including bells and slide-whistles.
The marimbas, melodica and percussion make Man Man’s style so distinct. The music has an eerie carousel sound that’s lightly sprinkled with a slight sea shanty.
Most of the songs were fast-paced with an insane amount of exuberance. The cramped crowd at Club 156 was jumping, dancing and shaking their heads vigorously to the energetic music. Like the crowd, the band was constantly moving, which seemed difficult on the small stage at Club 156. One of the band members was rocking so hard, he fell out of the side door for a second. This stage presence was just one part of the incredible show.
The drummer kicked his cymbals with his feet, another band member hit a cymbal against his head and one singer used a karate chop method on his throat to produce an unusual sound. From his piano, the lead singer jumped in unison with the drummer sitting across from him.
Another unique element about Man Man’s live performance is that they don’t stop playing between songs. There’s a clear change and transition between each song, but there’s no point when the band actually stops playing entirely. This really kept the energy upbeat throughout the entire set.
Ben Samples, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, said he liked how percussive the band was. He also said he liked the opening band, Mannequin Makeout.
Mannequin Makeout, a band started in Boulder by a few CU students who now live in Denver, played a great dance-rock show. Lead singer Brittany Gould, 23, prefers to call her band’s genre by a different name: “psychedelic dance jamz.”
Whatever the name chosen for Mannequin Makeout’s music, the crowd loved it. With the microphone draped around her neck, Gould scrunched her hair as she danced while letting out loud screams in between melodic vocals.
Mannequin Makeout has been around for about two and a half years and has created quite a buzz in the local music scene. The eerie wail of the theremin adds a nice layer to the band’s sound.
Gould said one of her favorite bands to play with is Man Man.
“They’re the most inspiring,” Gould said. “They’ll blow anybody’s mind out of the water, no matter what kind of music they like.”
Which may be one reason why Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse asked the band to tour with them. The two bands share a common similarity in their unique songwriting abilities, as well as a deep and powerful growl in their vocals. Much like Tom Waits’ style of singing, Modest Mouse and Man Man have a common vocal sound.
“Both bands share a certain prettiness,” Man Man lead singer Honus Honus said.
Man Man will join Modest Mouse on April 24 in Montreal for their first show together.
Monday night’s performance was the first for Man Man in Boulder, but Honus Honus said they will return on May 19 to do a performance at Urban Outfitters.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Jenny Bergen at Jennifer.email@example.com.