Man Man
The Summit, Columbus, July 10
by Jennifer Farmer

Man Man is one of those rare and refreshing bands that don’t take themselves too seriously, though I suppose that’s just intuitive when your members use pseudonyms like Honus Honus, Chang Wang, Critter Crat, Pow Pow and Sergei Sogay. And Honus and the rest of the cavalcade of merry men brought their gypsy-rock mish-mash to the Summit in Columbus, and a capacity crowd was there to greet them. The result was an evening of wet, hot fun (thank you poor ventilation and humid Ohio weather).

Man Man aims to entertain, and entertain they did with a blistering set (pun intended, as it was easily 90 degrees inside), seamlessly interspersing tracks off of their most recent release, Rabbit Habits with older favorites like “Against the Peruvian Monster.” It was impressive enough that the five members—each of whom play multiple instruments—managed to fit onto the tiny Summit stage, equipment and all, but more amazing, however, was the fact that the quintet steamrolled and sweated their way through the entire set with hardly a stop, soldiering through the miasma of bodily vapors that permeated the air. Honus, the consummate front man, bounded across the stage at every opportunity, leaping onto speakers while dodging cords and instruments along the way. It was exhausting to watch, yet on those occasions when he sat to play his piano, especially during the comparatively mellow title track from Habits, the stage seemed to be lacking a focal point.

For as much of a charade as Man Man puts on, they are equally impressive musicians. It is easy to dismiss Man Man as just another bunch of ragamuffins-come-lately with a lot more shtick than talent, and indeed, some do, but their live show has always offered irrefutable evidence to the contrary. As mentioned before, each member plays a variety of instruments, ranging from sousaphone to xylophone, often switching back and forth many times throughout one short song. I can’t help but think it a shame that Man Man don’t take themselves more seriously, as it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish where the on-stage personas, clad in war paint and white, ends and the genuine musical talent begins. One must wonder how long the zany front can keep fans entertained, but I suppose that remains to be seen. Judging from the crowd that showed up Friday, I’d say they’re in no danger of boring any fan base.

In the end, those that had the foresight to drink plenty of water—or the dedication to stave off dehydration—were treated to a few encores, including an animated rendition of the beloved “Van Helsing Boombox.” It was the perfect cap to an evening of outlandish fun, and though it looked as though we’d come from an illicit midnight rendezvous at a local swimming pool, we smelled otherwise. It had been a memorable evening indeed.