Show Review: The Men @ Red7 (6/30)

We knew what we were in for. We saw it coming. We ignored the warning signs. I was heading into my third night of shows in a row, fourth in five days. Things were escalating. Lower Dens -> Howard Jones -> Nada Surf -> The Men. After seeing their sets during SxSW, we knew we had to be at Red7 to see The Men. They made the 2012 top albums so far list, what kind of music-writer-types would we be if we passed up seeing one of our favorites?

Cruddy, Creamers and Destruction Unit opened.

I have been chewing on this review in my brain since the show and I think I have boiled down for you. Click through, thoughts and pics after the break…

The set times were moved twice. I don’t know if that was due to late bands or late crowd or both. Probably both. Please Red7, use some fill lights instead of just red and blue. I like a challenge as I hate flash-bombing bands (more on that later).

Cruddy started things off. Strong rhythm section, messy, blasted through jams, probably the neatest set, nothing to complain about.

Creamers‘ frontman is a slight and unassuming, highwaters suspended properly, punk vocalist. He is quiet and then not quiet. His lungs are probably 90% of his body mass. Solid set, super fast, I think it was around twenty-two minutes, leaving a massive break until D-Unit.

Idle hands, right? By the time D-Unit started sound check, they were wasted. I mean wasted – wobbly, bleary, starlet wasted. So wasted, I thought it was an act for a little bit. Only two ways this can go, awesome or shit. It was both. When they put it together, they were outstanding. Heavy hook oriented punk rock with a lot of guitar filling the room, it was loud and abrasive, but musical at its core. At its worse, it was thrown mic stands, awkward speaker climbing and long delays because missing gear from the throwing fits. The crowd lobbed cans on stage, they threw them back. There were Black Cats set off creating clouds of sulfur stank. I get it, it is punk rock. It was awesome and then the awesome would come to a screeching halt. Torn here. Part of the crowd thought they saw something amazing, others were just amazed by what they saw.

Anyway, I spent time talking to Ben, bass player for The Men pre-show. SxSW, travel, NASA, wide-ranging random thoughts. One thing came up as a request, “please don’t use the flash, it is really distracting for us.” No problem, don’t like using a flash when shooting a band. I will if I am asked to, but it has got to suck to get blasted in a dark room by flash-guns. I know it pisses me off when I am watching a band and someone has their flash pointed up to bounce off a black ceiling (derp), placing those little dots in our field of view for minutes at a time. There was indeed a flash happy sort there, so I was wondering if they were going to ask the same of him; they did.

I now know why they asked. They take this seriously. They are intense. Don’t mistake this professionalism with being boring. They are loud and abrasive, sharing vocal duties, expending enough energy on stage to pull anyone with in earshot in to what is going on up front. By the time they broke into “Open Your Heart”, most of the crowd had been involved in a bit of pit-shoving, beers raised in approval. There was beer sprayed, plenty of the expected crowd participation. The band plowed through all of it, putting their heads down and letting the songs do the work. The Men put all they can into their performance. No wasted effort, recovering between songs, flipping the switch back on with the tap of the pedal to open up the feedback.

There are a few more pics at the photo site

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