Monday, November 8, 2010

Man... or Astroman? Beyond the Metabolic Cage (Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC, 11/6/10)

Space/surf aliens Man or Astroman? have reunited for the first time in a decade (save for a one-off for Touch and Go records awhile back) and are in the midst of a quick tour... only 7 dates... with the enigmatic title "Beyond the Metabolic Cage". I was lucky enough to catch them at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC, and they put on every bit the smokin' hot, hyper-energetic show I remember. Lights, video, and assorted (possibly dangerous) high-tech equipment were all in full-effect. Star Crunch was as great as ever on geetar, Birdstuff banged the drums, and on bass, Coco was ever the showman (or is that show-monkey, as his alien name is "Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard"?). Occasional Astroman Victor Vector is handling 2nd guitar on the tour.

I say they put on a show, and it was impressive. Now, I've never placed too much emphasis on the "show" as opposed to the music. My old 'zine was called "It's the Music, Stupid!" for crissakes. But when the show complements already great music, and does so well -- thematically & visually -- it really does take a band over the top. One case in point is Of Montreal, whose psychedelic prop/light/screen show really adds to their performance.

So what can you say about a band of stranded aliens who close their show with a Tesla coil solo? Not much if the music sucked. But when it's the most intense, lightning-fast, spacey surf music ever played, interspersed with well-chosen samples from forgotten sci-fi films, and a great light show to boot (their entrance made me feel as if I was behind Devil's Tower witnessing a Close Encounter), then I say "Take me to your leader!"

While I never listened to MOAM's albums much, I always immensely enjoyed their live shows. But before this show, I had a hard time remembering how I had found them so musically interesting years ago (visuals aside). Surf can get repetitive, and even boring, at times.

Well, it took about 10 seconds of Star Crunch kicking in to refresh my memory. The music was, as I said, intense... to say the least. Bone-jarring guitar raced through the air at lightspeed. Thudding bass, drums, tight as ever, were in perfect sync, as were the sci-fi soundbites (timed just as on the albums). There was even a little rockin' on the theremin. Some live bands just reach right for your gut, grab a hold, and don't let go until they walk off the stage. MOAM are (still) one of those bands. Despite not having played much at all in a decade, they are at the very top of their form. The only downside was that they didn't play an encore (but they did play a good 15-20 songs).

Here's a few photos of the show, and a link to my video of the afore-mentioned Tesla "solo". If you have a chance to catch Man orAstroman? live, I highly recommend you do so. I'm not sure how much they'll tour again. I hear they have to catch the next transit to Sector B-9 or somewhere.

Click to see Coco's TESLA COIL SOLO!

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