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Man Man @ Union Transfer.

March 7, 2013

ManMan01Text by Dana Ricci. Images by Hillary Petrozziello.

Some came wearing white face paint. Others had masks resting atop their heads, waiting to be pulled over their faces. Some even wore costumes of sorts that they waited to flaunt as they stood in the crowd anticipating the band’s entrance.

“You might not want to stand in the front,” my friend warned me as we made our way through the crowd. “It’s going to get pretty crazy.”

And crazy it got, when Philly’s own Man Man played for a sold-out crowd at Union Transfer on Saturday. The band is currently co-headlining a U.S. tour with Indiana indie-rock group Murder by Death and the stop in Philly was bound to be one hell of a show.

ManMan12It’s one thing to play a sold out show at the Union Transfer. It’s another to play a sold-out show where the entire crowd yells every lyric to every classic along with the band. And that’s exactly what happened as the band threw themselves into into their second song, “Top Drawer.” The crowd belted along as the folks up front—where I stood despite my friend’s warning—began to excitedly push and shove each other around as they danced. As I got caught up in the movement, a stranger stopped me by grabbing my shoulders, he flashed me a huge smile, then hugged me as if we were long-lost best friends and it was the first time he had seen me in years, before sending me back into the pit. And that’s just the sort of jubilation one should expect at a Man Man show.

While their experimental and multi-instrumental music has been winning over fans since they made their debut album in 2004, seeing Man Man live is an experience in itself. During the show, frontman and pianist Ryan Kattner, aka Honus Honus, put a few different costumes over his cutoffs, including a power blue coat and an alien mask, a red hooded cape, a long black cloak, and, finally, a sparkly teal dress. Honus would frequently get up from clobbering the keyboard to run around on stage, throw confetti at the crowd, and wail in his signature “fucked up voice.”

And while Man Man revved up the crowd with many classics, including “Life Fantastic,” “Haute Tropique”—one that Honus cross-dressed for—“Piranhas Club,” and “Engrish Bwudd,” they played a handful of songs from a new album that they hope to release this summer.

Though the crowd stopped the shoving during the unfamiliar tracks, the new songs were well-received. Some had this fifties doo wop vibe to them and were impossible not to dance to. Man Man has also brought on two new members to the crew including Adam Schatz on the saxophone who had a few memorable solos during the show. The original quartet consists of Honus, Christopher Powell, Jamey Robinson and Billy Dufala

After the band played “Engrish Bwudd” off their 2006 album Six Demon Bag as their original closer, the crowd stomped their feet until the band returned with another short set. Show-goers danced and pushed each other around crazily as they enjoyed the last few songs, though it was not out of aggression, but more out of pure joy. It was probably the happiest yet rowdiest crowd most of us had ever been a part of, exactly what you’d expect from a great Philly band.

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