The Men Captivate The Bowery Ballroom

March 8th, 2013

The Men – The Bowery Ballroom – March 7, 2013

Capping off a big week that included gracing the cover of The Village Voice and releasing their fourth full-length album, New Moon, Brooklyn band the Men performed a sold-out show at The Bowery Ballroom last night. The five-piece have been lauded for their ability to blend elements such as Dinosaur Jr. levels of feedback and distortion and vigorous punk riffs with Neil Young– and Tom Petty–inspired crooners, often with surprising flourishes of harmonica or saxophone. In the capable hands of the Men, this confluence of disparate retro influences comes out sounding both familiar and wholly unique.

Band members traded off on vocal duties as they ran through songs from the new record as well as 2012’s Open Your Heart. The dirty and rough surface of their sound often belies the polish and precision beneath it, and although the Men may not seem to bother with details like perfectly tuned guitars, they took care to fine-tune their instruments as they readied to play “Turn It Around,” admitting, somewhat bashfully, “Gotta get it right, you know.”

As they played, band members at times turned their backs on the audience completely— riding a melody, lost in a guitar solo, perhaps simply having bounced, swayed or shredded a bit too heartily. However, rather than seeming disconnected, the band’s focus and intensity while playing created a natural magnetism, allowing the postures of conventional stage presence to remain an afterthought, captivating through authenticity. —Alena Kastin