Last Wednesday I made the pilgrimage to New York City to see a show. Fellow DJ, Kazakhstan Dan of Shuffle the Playlist and I decided to meet up and see Man Man with opening act Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. I had listened to Man Man in the past and enjoyed their newest album Life Fantastic so for $20 it made sense to check them out. We were not disappointed.
This may have been one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
We were tipped off that this show might be fantastic while we waited in line, three women were going around asking if people wanted their faces painted and handed out kazoos. So with war paint on and kazoos in hand we entered the venue.
Man Man’s sound is something that to describe seems like a nightmare: Think punk, indie rock, xylophone, and the circus. It’s weird as hell.
Shilpa Ray opened and it was a huge surprise, Dan and I had both listened to her album and weren’t enamored but her live performances are something not to be missed. She walked out in a blue romper and a garland of orange lillies around her head and proceeded to belt out her songs with a voice much to large for her tiny stature. It was surreal and amazing. Check out her music, you’ll enjoy it.
After the first act, the black cloths covering ambiguous piles on the stage were taken away, they revealed the oddest set we had seen. The instruments were obscured by random objects; part of a tricycle, a hockey mask, lights, florescent tubing, one of the band members brought out a television, turned it on and stepped back. On the screen there was a morose looking fellow with a bloody nose. He stayed there the entire set.
The band stepped out and the backdrop lit up to reveal a constellation pattern. The band started slowly, with “Feathers” but quickly picked up the pace with “Piranhas Club” and kept at that tempo until “Haute Tropique.” Honus Honus, the front man, donned on a sparkling green ring master’s jacket and stood and looked at the audience for the first time. As he sang he articulated each disturbing word with hand gestures and shredded paper. After that interlude, the tempo picked up again. They played almost every song from Life Fantastic but also played old favorites like “The Ballad of Butter Beans” and “Engrish Bwudd.” Shilpa Ray came out and joined the band and Honus in singing “Steak Knives,” which was beautiful.
In total the concert was amazing, it was a real performance. Contributing to this idea was the band’s distance from the crowd. They barely addressed the audience except for “Haute Tropique” and to shoot a confetti canon. Most of the singing by front man Honus was to some invisible point on the stage right.