Wednesday, July 4, 2007

man man @ mccarren pool, 7/1/07

after a week of sweltering heat and the more-than-occasional thunderstorm, i was REALLY happy to see the sun shining brightly on sunday, with only a few clouds in the sky, because i had a date with man man that afternoon. to sweeten the already-sweet deal (i.e., free show), illinois was opening for the cabaret-stomp sextet, and i was all hot and bothered to see them live, having been (mostly) impressed with their debut ep, what the hell do i know?

it seems that blog-world success doesn't really translate into the real-world variety, for, despite the eps' critical success, the crowd was thin and most people were playing dodgeball (awesome!) or slip-and-sliding (awesomer!). still, illinois rocked pretty steadily, opening their set with two new songs (one of which was "oh asia," which you can download at their daytrotter session) before slipping into the familiar "nosebleed." i was pleased to see that the banjo in the press photo is real, though not the coolest trick illinois had up their sleeve. for "nosebleed," chris archibald (lead singer/ songwriter) pulled out a phone headset that seemed to have been reconfigured into a mic, and wailed into that for the whole song. the fact that i've been too busy the past few days to post this means that i can't remember exactly which songs where played and which weren't, but i'm pretty sure that all three daytrotter songs were played in the 8- or 9-song set, and we can hopefully expect a long playing illinois album by 2009. i was very pleased with their set, and the crowd especially liked "headphones" and "bad day" (i took a video; you can watch it here), though they seemed a little daunted by the big stage, and i don't think they're ready to headline any tours quite yet. despite that, i maintain that illinois is going to be producing some solid straight rock for a while, so keep your ears open.

dengue fever, a world-fusion sextet for los angeles, was next up, and i, having never heard of them, had no expectations, and i was not unhappy with their set. the singer was cambodian, and sang in that language, and the music was very much like most other world artists - slightly jam-like, jazzy, and a bit repetitive after about half an hour. despite that, dengue fever will now always hold a special place in my heart, because of these guys ->

(there's nothing better than a pair of big beards.)

the white guy on the right spoke some cambodian (one would assume), as he sang backup vocals more than once, and dengue fever's stage presence was really strong. they were obviously very comfortable and visibly enjoyed their set, and while that doesn't mean the music was outstanding (it wasn't), there are several worse things i could've been doing than listening to some decent world jams.

there are not a lot of dengue fever mp3s floating around, but motel de moka has three; if you're located in brooklyn, they did an in-store at soundfix right after the set, and they'll definitely have albums for sale.

and now, man man. there's pretty much nothing i can add to what the comments section of brooklyn vegan's report on this show hasn't said (about 3/4s of all the posts are about either band of horses and darren mabee, the fat semi-nude guy who is at every man man show in new york), so i'm going to pretend like that page doesn't exist and tell you about how much i enjoyed their show. it was the second time i've seen them, after their january 5 show at bowery ballroom, and, while the crowd was not as gung-ho this time as it was then, there were probably more spectators and fewer fans.

clad in their trademark white head-to-toe and face makeup (except for honus honus's white daisy dukes), man man took the stage to epic applause and started right in with "black mission goggles" off last year's six demon bag. i was surprised to see six guys onstage, as they only had five in january, but their performance was seamless. the fluidity of their show always impresses me, because they pack so many things in; six drummers, a marimba, a saxophone, two keyboards, a bowl of spoons, a trumpet, guitar, bass, two air keyboards (you know, the ones you breathe into), some kazoos, and who the hell knows what else. yet they never seem to waver or be overwhelmed by the sheer absurdity of their own actions, which are pretty fucking absurd. honus honus was in fine voice, bellowing at the microphone like some diseased gypsy and thrashing his feet around, when he wasn't walking around on stage, twitching spastically. i'm not 100% familiar with the man man catalog, but i'm sure they played a bunch of new songs from the album they started recording in february (pitchfork has a "special feature" video on it). their set was practically crackling with energy as they stomped, clattered, and generally insanely rocked through much of the man in the blue turban with a face and six demon bag, playing "english bwudd," "10 lb. mustache," "young einstein on the beach," "zebra," and a moving, tender version of "van helsing boombox," along with several other songs. they encored with "hot bat," featuring the ever-popular synchronized jumping. their rigs, bedecked in hard-to-see christmas lights, shuddered with their fanatic energy, and assured their spot (in my mind) as one of the best live bands around today.

you need to ask yourself why, if you live in new york, you weren't there last sunday for illinois, dengue fever, and man man. one of the more promising bands in the indie canon, and one of its live heavyweights put on an excellent show. i took a couple man man movies, including one of their six-person drum-off, which i've posted below. you can see the other one here (honus honus dons some black fabric and a gold crown for this marimba-heavy jam). my excellent day didn't end here, fortunately; i saw the polyphonic spree later that night at warsaw, which i'll be posting on later today (nothing like the 4th of july to give you an excuse to catch up on blogging). and now, some mp3s, a photo, and a movie. enjoy.

illinois - "bad day" buy what the hell do i know? here.
man man - "van helsing boombox" "i, manface" buy all your man man stuff here.

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