New York

Live: John Legend Reps Man Man at Grammys?


Just like an apartment in East Village am I right?!

Man Man
Caroline Distribution Offices
February 8

Download: “10 lb. Moustache”
Download: “Van Helsing Boombox”

Confirm/deny, John Legend thanked Man Man at the Grammys last night? Possible, considering Legend’s wiki reports he spent time in Philly at UPenn, where the band calls home, and wouldn’t put it past Man Man to be huge Counterparts fans.

Industry gigs mean free booze and lots of sneers, but here it just meant everybody had advanced copies of Six Demon Bag and knew all the words before the album’s release in a few weeks. Also i-gigs mean dark rooms or scum bars or black turtleneck waiters carrying huge app trays with just six pieces of sushi; Caroline offices though are totally an office, the walls a collage of new and old album posters from artists they’re distributing now (Broadcast), bands that have fallen out of popular grace for some time (Fatboy Slim), that Sondre Lerche dude I like pretty good, and an old Urb cover with a teaser that reads: “Happy Hardcore: 180 Smiles Per Minute.”

Just saying, all around us a nasty reminder of how quickly music turns over, how anxiously we move from one artist to the next, discarded sounds picked up again, etc. It’d be too pessimistic a setting, say, for Editors or Bravery or whoever’s the lastest trendfucker band, but Man Man made more sense here than the desks and chairs. A mess of junk sounds, ripped-up electric pianos and makeshift percussion and dented horns and klezmer changes and party favor horns and wet noodles–the band’s already ramshackle, a jarring mix of old and new and cool and uncool, and I can’t remember the last time the visuals complemented the audio so well.

Mostly new stuff; they played about six too many songs but can’t fault the songs necessarily. Also didn’t occur to me until last night that “Black Mission Goggles” is “Come Together” but very approximated, cartoonish, like what those kids whose parents locked them in the basement with musical instruments might come up with, but with more screaming and la-la-la and the polar opposite emotionally.

Honus Honus, the band’s lead singer, had wanted to stay away from the guitar completely, but no luck and for the better: “Push The Eagle’s Stomach” is their heavy metal number, very roundabout obv and not guitar heavy, but exciting to see them touching different stones here. Like, you look at these guys–white shirts, white football sunblock, bug-eyed and beardy and so attention-deficit they’ll just jump away from their instruments and scream and flip over a table and remember at the last second they’re playing a song too–they know they’re weird enough that they can go for familiar and it’ll still come out strange.

The silences, breaks from mayhem and breath catchers, they were the toughest, because that’s when it clicks how debilitating and dead-on creepy most of these songs are. No percussion, they sing campfire: “You should always run with a loaded gun in your mouth,” all the goofy smirks and Chris Powell bug-eye faces still in force; they knew what they were advocating. Too bad they didn’t do “Van Helsing Boombox,” the band’s big breakup tune and probable breakout too, because, as Honus explained before the show: “It’s liking watching your life falling apart over and over again–but it’s a pop song.” Mizzle, who played bass mostly last night, speaks up: Yeah, but that’s why we have to play it.”

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