The Men LIVE at Empty Bottle Chicago 04/11/2014
I arrived to a packed house and caught Basic Cable, a solid, straight-ahead punk band with a thoroughly entertaining frontman, whose wiry body happily staggered around the stage. His long, spirally red hair draped over his orange guitar, which sported a red racing stripe. It was a perfect aesthetic manifestation of his high-energy onstage personality. The band’s performance was an apt sonic lubricant for what was about to transpire as the Men took the stage.
I was prepared for the noise—the tight, fast post-punk heaviness—but I was surprised to hear gorgeous guitar-led melodies layered throughout the Men’s performance. Stunning. Think Dead Meadow, Fugazi, or Dinosaur Jr.
Three of the five band members took a turn at vocals, each bringing something new to the table without diverging from the overall feel of the band. There were smoky vocals and skilled guitar playing from lead man Nick Chiericozzi; tasteful slide guitar, tremolo effects, and surf-punk vibes from guitarist Ben Greenberg; epic songs from keyboardist Mark Perro; and not-to-be-missed dashes of blues and classic rock from the rhythm section.
Two standout tunes were from their latest release, Tomorrow’s Hits: a country-tinged song called “Dark Waltz” and “Another Night,” clearly a nod to Big Star or the Replacements. I had a particular affinity for some of their more dreamy, thoughtful, explorative songs.
Toward the end of the evening, Chiericozzi picked up a show light and slid it up and down his guitar for some brief but great show antics and stellar noises. The Men closed with two covers: Devo’s “Gates of Steel” and the Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog. “
Together since 2008, the Men have amassed a large number of fans, some slam dancers, and some musicians who were all admiring smiles Friday. It was a happy crowd and satisfying show. I wouldn’t miss the Men in the future and am once again grateful to be turned onto a hungry but mature and memorizing band—just the way I like ‘em!
Photo Credit: Nate Lindsey