You might think Man Man is a joke band at first, and for good reason. The band members dress entirely in white on stage, looking more like colonial schoolboys than they do accomplished musicians in their tight shirts and shorts and sneakers. Add in the warpaint they wear on their faces, their childish stage names (Honus Honus and Pow Pow, for instance), and their odd instrument choices—the sousaphone, marimba, and xylophone all make appearances on their albums—and you’ve got a band to scrunch up your nose at. But you’d be foolish to write them off as a gimmick. Despite the brash and weird exterior, the heart of Man Man is one of genuine musicianship.
The men of Man Man take their job seriously, fusing Frank Zappa-like rock ‘n’ roll with clanging vaudeville piano and the spirit of an Eastern European traveling circus. Lead vocalist and pianist Honus Honus launches from one song to the next at their live sets, wasting no time chattering at the audience, since he and his band mates are more committed to creating a musical flow than bantering with the front row. Their music itself is wild, noisy and strangely sentimental. Underneath the shouting and growling and twinkling of the xylophone are lovesick lyrics and stories about the pain of living. Man Man may be over the top, but they don’t let the pageantry mask their wonderful music. For more information, see here.
What: Man Man
When: Sunday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m.
Where: Harlow’s, 2708 J St., Sacramento