any sort of mainstream success
Friday, May 24 2013
I wore shorts and a teeshirt this morning when I walked the dogs in the forest, but within a few hours, temperatures had plummeted into the 40s and I found myself going around the house closing windows and doors that had been opened during that recent 90 degree day (or before).
Some weeks ago, before winning the lottery for the five-day-long mini-residency at Blue Mountain Center, Gretchen had for some reason bought a pair of tickets for a Man Man show at BSP in Uptown Kingston. I'd vaguely heard of Man Man but couldn't think of their songs, but I guess that was enough of an endorsement.
The show was scheduled for tonight, and at first I was a little resentful when Gretchen sent me an email urging me to go. I was about to give the tickets away on Facebook, but then I remembered that my buddy Mark would be coming up for the weekend. So I asked if Mark wanted to see Man Man, whatever that was, and it turned out he could do it.
So at a little before 9:00pm, I drove down to Ray & Nancy's place to pick him up (we'd be leaving Mark's wife and daughter with Nancy; and they'd end up having a girls' night in playing dance games on the Xbox Kinect).
The crowd that had turned out for Man Man was comprised mostly of youngish hipsters. There weren't any douchebags wearing baseball caps or blond girls with ponytails, suggesting that Man Man has yet to achieve any sort of mainstream success. But there also weren't any guys with lacquered mustaches, suggesting that the Man Man scene is an understated one. That scene was also notable for its complete lack of hippies, punks, and African Americans. (There may, however, have been a few so-called steampunks.)
Since the Man Man show had sold out, I assumed BSP was having them perform in the massive post-apocalyptic back area (from which it gets its name). But no, the whole thing was being held in the pre-apocalyptic front area.
There were actually two opening bands, Breakfast in Fur and Paperhaus. The former was your typical melodic alternative rock band, with songs that sounded occasionally like Superchunk. Paperhaus had a tight determination to their music, which seemed to be built around elaborate grooves. They were happily surprised at the size and energy of the crowd, which was responding well to their fast, danceable sound.
It turned out that I didn't have any cash in my wallet, so Mark ended up buying all the beer we drank. In keeping with the hipster thing, we only drank PBRs from cans. One can handle many more of those than, say, IPAs. In the end, each of us drank four. They were $3 each.
At some point we took one of the PBR cans and went back to the car, where we fashioned it into a primitive marijuana smoking device. So by the time Man Man took the stage, our minds had been nicely altered.
Our initial impression of Man Man wasn't a good one. The fact that they'd made the opening bands perform on the floor in front of a stage occupied by their equipment seemed dickish, all the more so given how long it took them to set up despite having such a head start. But once they started playing, the music was good and the crowd went crazy. To my ear, Man Man sounded like Devo crossed with Tom Waits. As for Mark, he said it sounded to him like Frank Zappa. The songs tended to be in weird time signatures that were nonetheless highly danceable. They all sounded to my ear like novelty tunes, which is not something I normally like from a band (it's why I can't listen to either Frank Zappa or Tom Waits). But there's something about an energetic band at a live show that can't be bottled and sold, and so while I probably wouldn't much enjoy a Man Man song in MP3 form, it was good to see them at BSP. Still, they ran late and at some point Mark suggested leaving early. We were headed towards the door when Man Man started playing a song that Mark actually recognized. So we ended up staying for a couple more and then left. Who knows how late they went on for; by this point it was about midnight.
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