Man Man | 02.18.13

manman14 sqDelivering more costume changes than any show I’ve seen in the past year, you could tell that he enjoys entertaining.



w/Murder by Death
Firebird, St. Louis

At points, this show was quite confusing. Maybe it was partly due to the fact that I came in late after filing a report for someone who hit my car and peeled out of the parking lot, or maybe it was the fact that everyone on stage had a drum, or I guess it could have been the PBR tallboys that flow so freely at Firebird. Whatever it was, I’d describe it as a pleasant confusion—the kind that makes you stare intently and try to decipher what, exactly, is going on. “Is that saxophonist a drummer? And why is his drum a pot of flowers that he’s hitting with a maraca?”

Man Man front man Honus Honus is a rambunctious lad who certainly enjoys what he’s doing. The mixture of emotions within his songwriting is an art in itself. Many of them have an upbeat, “zany Zappa” feel, but with a bemoaning Tom Waits attitude. The Zappa feel is especially captured in songs like “The Ballad of Butter Beans,” which, sadly wasn’t played this night, but has some of the most kickass xylophoning and wordless chanting you’ll ever hear. The Waits influences are clear to anyone, and he pulls them off flawlessly without leaving you feeling like he’s cheated in any way.

Delivering more costume changes than any show I’ve seen in the past year, you could tell that he enjoys entertaining. Using alien masks and flowing robes, and all the while…oh look, now he’s hanging from rafters—literally. When he jumps back down, he receives an ovation, which he seemed rather confused over. “Really, you clap for that? This audience is easy.”

Some of the highlights and crowd favorites of the night were “Piranhas Club,” “Hurly/Burly,” “Mister Jung Stuffed,” and one of my personal favorites, “Young Einstein on the Beach.” As part of their generously lengthy encore, “Young Einstein on the Beach” proves just psychotic Man Man can be. About a minute long, the song is a jumble of emotions and tempos depicting images of rat murder, drunken brawls, and maybe even drunk rats brawling.

What also adds to the ambience of a Man Man show is the fact that almost everyone in the band plays multiple instruments: saxophones, trumpets, xylophones, and, as I already mentioned, everyone has a drum. It’s a helpful skill when you’re playing on a small stage. Throughout the set, Honus Honus showed command of the stage, not in the sense that he was in charge, but more that he was the main attraction within whatever was happening on stage. In the end, I realized that he was in fact just a homeless man who’d wandered on stage. I wouldn’t have picked up on it if he hadn’t tried playing everyone else’s instruments during their finale. And after a sincere “Goodnight, motherfuckers!” they were on their way. | Brian Cheli

Photos by Kelly Glueck

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