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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Man Man to bring cheeky shenanigans to Pearl Street

Collegian File Photo

Experimental indie rock experience Man Man will be bringing its vaudevillian show to the Pearl Street Night Club in Northampton this Wednesday night as the group makes the rounds on its U.S. tour.

The show promises to be a spectacular affair after the band’s performance in Northampton last year, in which the crowd became so riled up that venue managers stopped the show and demanded that concert-goers settle down or they would shut the show down. These threats were coupled with bouncers being posted in front of the tiny stage, but it was still barely enough to contain the show as Man Man pumped Pearl Street full of its theatrical and energetic antics.

Currently, the band consists of pianist and lead singer Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner), drummer Pow Pow (Christopher Powell), and multi-instrumentalists T. Moth (Turkey Moth aka Jamey Robinson), Chang Wang (Billy Dufala) and Jefferson. T. Moth, Chang Wang and Jefferson tend to rotate on the xylophone, supporting keyboard, saxophone and guitar and sometimes bass. They are all incredibly well-versed in the ways of showmanship, producing myriad of vocals from death growls to Mariah Carey-esque falsettos all while supporting Honus’ Tom Waits-like gruff tones.

The band’s shenanigans typically involve kazoos, feather boas, cross-dressing, confetti galore and occasionally passing instruments out to audience members for a little crowd participatory fun. The shows are essentially musical circuses and their riot of a ringleader Honus Honus easily channels the energy of his bandmates to deliver a downright electric performance, despite the calmness of the latest album, “Life Fantastic.”

“Life Fantastic,” which came out in 2011, is a departure from the band’s  prior albums. With a very focused, dark sound that’s much more doom-wop than doo-wop, the album features troubled lyrics such as, “You should always run with a loaded gun in your mouth.” Despite the somberness of this album, in an interview with The Inflatable Ferret Honus described “Life Fantastic” as the band’s “most beautiful record to date.” Man Man still manages to maintain an air of levity by supporting such dark lyrics with gypsy-jazz, some heavy honky-tonk piano and rousing jungle-drums.

Prior to “Life Fantastic,” Man Man released “Rabbit Habits” in 2008, a much more eclectic mix of songs in comparison. “Rabbit Habits” was predated by “Six Demon Bag,” which the band named in honor of the film “Big Trouble in Little China.“ The album features one of Man Man’s most popular pre-“Life Fantastic” era songs, “Engrish Bwudd,” a song that perfectly demonstrates just how whimsical one band can be in only three and a half minutes.

Man Man will be supported by co-headliner Murder by Death, a five piece indie-rock band from Indiana that will be accompanying Man Man for the duration of its tour, in addition to singer-songwriter and Oklahoma native Samantha Crain. The show will take place in the ballroom of the Pearl Street Night Club at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available for $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

Sabrina Amiri can be reached at samiri@student.umass.edu.

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