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LIVE: MEN at the Echoplex (5/10/2012)

By Alejandro Rubio on May 15, 2012


LIVE: MEN at the Echoplex (5/10/2012)

Echoplex (Los Angeles, California)
May 10, 2012

The crowd unleashed a barrage of “I love you"s when MEN took the stage Thursday in their Chicago-Bulls-meets-Pierrot matching outfits. JD Samson and the gang smiled back at their adoring audience before counting in their first song that night at the Echoplex.

Now, the only way I can describe how deep the bass was booming is to say that it not only rattled my ribcage and kicked out my eardrums, but it also seemed to vibrate a hidden space inside my nose. I'm not proud to admit it, but for the first time in my concert-going career I felt it necessary to use earplugs, so after their first song I raced to the bathroom, bought a pair of earplugs from the attendant through pantomime, and made it back in time to catch the last half of MEN's second song. (Thanks, JD, for popping my concert-earplug cherry).

JD introduced their third song by welcoming their new keyboardist and bassist Natasha, and added that the band had only met her in person right before the show. Yet, by the way the group laughed and danced on stage, you would have never of guessed that this was the first time that MEN had ever been a quartet or that JD had doubted whether or not anyone would show up considering that MEN hadn't released a full-length album since their 2011's Talk About Body. But the night's crowd of devotees couldn't care less about that. In fact, it was the crowd which kept shouting out requests for songs from even further back in MEN's catalogue.

One of the songs requested was their 2009 single “Credit Card Babies” which started out with drummer Lee Free double-fisting drumsticks and maracas as he set the tribal beat on a pair of bongos. JD and Natasha produced sweeping synthesized effects as Michael O'Neill's percussive guitar got the crowd dancing.

However, the highlight of the night was “Who Am I To Feel So Free,” a driving electroclash anthem that inspired the crowd to dance while unifying their voices to sing along to the LGBT song of praise. The night continued in similar fashion and it was encouraging to see MEN bring riot grrrl ethics to a genre of music that has traditionally acted as a vacuous backdrop for MDMA-fueled absurdities. But it wasn't until MEN left the stage after their encore that I realized that their goal that night was to prove that LGBT politics could not only be accessible, but that they could also be danceable.

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