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Five thoughts: Man Man (February 21, Backstage Bar & Billiards)

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Man Man leader Honus Honus performs Friday, February 21 at Backstage Bar & Billiards.
Photo: Yasmina Chavez

1. Folks farther back might not realize there are only two musicians onstage during Xenia Rubinos’ set. The Brooklyn singer, who performs with drummer Marco Buccelli, stacks vocals and keyboard sounds to make full-bodied art-rock in the vein of The Fiery Furnaces or Dirty Projectors. She alternates between English and Spanish lyrics, descends into her small but smitten crowd and delivers memorable theatrics that can help a lesser-known support act make quick headway.

Man Man at Backstage Bar & Billiards: Feb. 21, 2014

2. Man Man frontman Honus Honus arrives like a prizefighter in a hooded robe, turning his back on the room and extending his arms wide as fans pay camera-phone homage. The quartet’s manic leader later shimmies in a white fur coat, then sings through a rubber alien mask while his mates—all dressed in Cobra Kai skeleton jumpsuits (yes, sensei!)—trade instruments (guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, sax, hubcap …) and make joyful noise behind him.

3. Drummer Pow Pow makes his own lasting impression from his front-stage drum perch. His steadying sticks power the band’s weird brand of danceable pirate-rock on all but one number, which finds Man Man’s second-longest-tenured member up and about with a mic, of sorts, in his hand, and space-age Vocoder sounds emerging from his lips. Someone needs to bring that party trick to EDC.

4. The 75-minute set touches on all five studio albums, from 2004’s The Man in a Blue Turban With a Face through last year’s On Oni Pond, and a few die-hards near the front sing along to it all, which seems to register with Honus. For most of us, however, it’s enough simply to delight in the frenzied energy being passed between band and crowd, keeping us moving and mesmerized past midnight.

5. Life Is Beautiful bookers take notice: Tonight’s avant-leaning undertaking doesn’t fill the place, but it draws enough bodies to feel vibrant. It’s the sort of show that pops up in San Francisco and New York on an almost nightly basis, and it makes for the type of unique night out those in attendance will hold dear forever. Kudos to those who booked it, and here’s hoping it pencils out well enough for them to experiment again.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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