Where do you start with Man Man for the uninitiated? The boundless energy of their stage show? The quirky (yet thoroughly catchy) melodies? The everything and the kitchen sink instrumentation? How about the fact that it’s just a hell of a lot of fun?
The band’s most recent studio effort, 2013’s On Oni Pond, finds the band in a bit more polished form than on their four previous releases. It’s by no means a radical departure, but it is a poppier one. People that might have been on the fence with them because of the “weirdness” of their earlier releases could latch onto them here much with greater ease. I’d even venture as far as to say that “Head On” could be a radio or video hit in an era that was friendlier to up and coming acts than ours is.
They leaned heavily on material from the new album at their stop at Bottletree in Birmingham on Thursday night. They played the aforementioned “Head On” as well as “Pink Wonton,” “End Boss,” “Loot My Body” and others. Their infectious energy and showmanship even make new songs seem like they’ve been part of the stage show for years and the sold out crowd often sang along as if they were old classics. They also ran through a good chunk of their back catalog including crowd pleasers like “Mister Jung Stuffed” and the song they’re probably best known for, “Engwish Bwudd” which always gets the crowd singing along at full throttle.
Even though they’ve thinned their stage show down over the years (I remember them having a mic’d bike chain on gears once) into what’s more or less traditional instruments at this point, nothing is lost or sacrificed in the name of traveling lighter. Man Man always goes out and gives you every damn ounce of energy they have. Simply put, they just rock their asses off because that’s what they do.
Side Note: Bandleader, keyboardist and singer Honus Honus seemed pretty floored by a fan in Birmingham that showed him a tattoo of lyrics from their song “Ice Dogs.” View it on his Instagram account.