On Wednesday night, the ever-eccentric (and Philly’s own) Man Man took over Union Transfer for part one of their two-night Halloween extravaganza. As I walked into the venue, I was a bit surprised to see a dismal crowd, especially considering the build-up and fast sell out of their Halloween show. More surprising was the usually opened balcony closed off, leaving fans to graze on the first floor. I was bit disappointed in the lack of costumes from the fans, especially considering Man Man always delivers on the outfits and face paint – even outside of Halloween.
Man Man Entertained With Bizarre Hi-Jinx in Philly
Starting the show was local sextet, Grandchildren. The vocal harmonies mixed with double drum kits and acoustic guitar flowed wonderfully together, creating the perfect ambiance for the night.
Next up was Xenia Rubinos, whose performance blew the crowd away with her wide range of vocals. At times, it even felt like there were more people than the drummer, Marco Buccelli, and Xenia herself. The energy between the two was far and beyond, and transcended through the crowd.
By the time the stage crew began setting up for Man Man, the dismal crowd became a crammed-tight mass of people shouting “Man Man! Man Man!” – making it feel more like a sold-out stadium. I overheard a group of fans behind me talking excitedly about the band, how they loved them and were going to be there for both nights in Philly. They were explaining their show to a first-time listener and all they could say was “you’ll be amazed.”
As a first-time listener myself, I became filled with anticipation, especially after seeing their eclectic stage set-up consisting of neon-colored instrument kits and a lit up green-eyed wolf mask planted directly in the center of the stage.
As Man Man finally took the stage, the crowd erupted into an enormous cheer, which continued throughout the night. The band was clearly dressed to impress, wearing matching skeleton body suits. Deep into their first song, the gentle swaying of the crowd quickly became a mass of wildly dancing and moshing bodies. Their performance felt like a circus, with singer Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner as the ringleader. He created an energy-filled atmosphere and left fans wondering anxiously what would happen next.
Honus Honus crushed through songs, pounding away on his piano keys while repeatedly lurking along the stage. The band played through hits from their latest release On Oni Pond, including “Paul’s Grotesque” in which Honus Honus donned an alien mask. He repeatedly interacted with the crowd; he placed his hands on their heads and drummed, asked for the stage light to be shined on him while he danced around, and blasted off a confetti cracker. Kattner went through numerous costume changes throughout the night, including a sequin-studded cape, tunic, and Anderson Cooper sweatshirt. The crowd ate up every single second; he was odd, but his energy was contagious.
Man Man’s performance was chaotic and bizarre, and at times felt like a disarray of instruments, however, it all blended perfectly together. The mix of Kattner’s raspy vocals, backing vocals and instruments (including a saxophone and trumpet) combined with Christopher “Pow Pow” Powell’s drumming created a perfect harmony, and the performance was nothing short of an entertaining live show. That’s all without mentioning their cover of “Jump in the Line (Shake Senora)” was probably the best thing I have ever heard.
Man Man created an infectious vibe that found everyone in the venue moving and pulsating to the music. I now understand why that one fan’s description of their live show was simply “you’ll be amazed.”
Article by Erika Reinsel