Photo by Kate Shapiro
The lights were dimmed for 10 minutes before gypsy punk-rock band Man Man appeared on stage at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg. That proved just enough time for the crowd to get sufficiently out of hand for the set to come. Philadelphia-based Man Man does have a flair for the dramatic. The set was full of costume changes and intricate props. At one point, lead singer Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) left the stage and strutted back on moments later wearing a green sparkly dress. At another point, Man Man used bicycle spokes as musical instruments. Later in the set, Honus Honus leaned in close to the audience and shook house keys, the sound of which—somehow—reverberated eerily throughout the entire venue. The frontman even took to serenading a Furby he had brought on stage.
Man Man knows how to work a crowd. There was this ineffable energy throughout the staggering 10-song encore. It was akin to the moment before you go over a roller coaster—all anticipation and excitement. There was a feeling during the entire show as if, at any moment, Man Man would break into an epic, 15-minute Van Halen-style solo. When the band did in “Life Fantastic” every member of the crowd and of Man Man itself completely lost it.
One of the most interesting things about a Man Man show is not the band but the audience. At the beginning of the show, the crowd was already reeling like the half-drunk crew of a boat sailing rough seas. Halfway through the night, the crowd had created a mosh pit 15 feet in diameter, the circumference of which humans would fling across like pingpong balls. Toward the end of the set, one drunk fan found her way on stage where she writhed about sensually to the point of licking a prop ladder Honus Honus had brought out not minutes before. Man Man’s members may be the wild ones, but this crowd kept up.