Reviews

Mama, I'm Swollen

Author: John Petersen
05/08/2009 | Emory University Wheel | www.emorywheel.com | Live Show Preview
The crowd had been eagerly waiting for Man Man to get on stage. It had been at least 15 minutes since opener Coyote Bones finished its set, the stage was set with Man Man's musical instruments, gizmos and gadgets and the energy in the room was that of hyped-up anticipation. Then the lights in the Variety Playhouse went out and gave way to an army of black lights that transformed the stage into a dark, white-blue, glowing world. The crowd went nuts and no one showed up on stage.

The crowd erupted into a barbaric chant of "Man Man, Man Man." Finally, responding to their summons, Man Man emerged in ridiculous all-white attire, with faces painted white. The band looked insane, as if the stage they were standing on was a completely different world, and the
music that followed matched this crazy persona.

The stage was decorated with bright, colorful feathers, party blowers,
toy snakes, a metal tin, three automated kittens that looked around
at the audience throughout the concert in creepy uneven intervals and
an assortment of other oddities that helped set the mood of the band:
bizarre, fun and energetic.

From start to finish Man Man played with crazed intensity. Members
of the band banged on drums and tins with all their might. The lead
singer jumped up, sat down, stood up, moved around and haphazardly hammered on his keyboard all while producing a cohesive sound. The lights flashed chaotically and matched the fast tempo of the song, fully immersing the crowd.

A few members of the audience yelled out the lyrics along with the
band, but the crowd was surprisingly stagnant during the performance,
with only a few people actually throwing their arms up into the air
dancing around. The stage and the audience seemed to be living in different spheres. Man Man, although delivering an excellent performance, failed to entice the crowd to go as crazy as itself during the set.

The band ended its set with the drummer and singer/pianist, who faced each other in the center of the stage, switching instruments. They only played one note, and then promptly said goodnight and ended the show. The musicians embraced each other with smiles running cheek to cheek.

Headliner Cursive took the stage with a completely different demeanor.
The stage felt relatively empty in comparison to Man Man's performance,
which seemed to have had every nook and cranny filled with something. The middle of the stage was left empty, allowing lead singer Tim Kasher to walk around and rock out during the set.

Cursive is a much older band as well, and its members were dressed modestly with each donning some variant of the jeans-and-button-up
look.

Although Cursive was nowhere near as wild as Man Man, it sounded
no less passionate. With every word full of emotion, Kasher's singing took on a heartfelt and boisterous tone. The cello, which was added for The Ugly Organ album, was gone, and in its place was a trumpet and keyboard.

Although the cello made a great addition to the album, the performance
was not hurt without it this time around. The trumpet made Kasher's
words sound like a triumphant call, as if he was no longer wallowing in
his sorrowful lyrics.

Cursive opened with "Butcher the Song," and about half the crowd seemed to know the words and few had reservations about singing along. This kept up for the majority of the set. However, there was always a large drop in audience participation when the band played a newer song. Unsurprisingly, the entire audience seemed to know every word to Cursive's most popular song, "Art is Hard."

But the evening's explosive performances exhibited the exact opposite
for Man Man and Cursive, art seemed to come pretty easily.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3