AXS: Philadelphian quartet Man Man announces appearance at 40th Street Summer Series

Saturday, September 13, 2014

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Just about everyone loves a free outdoor concert, and Philadelphia is home to a plethora of them in the summer. Among the most adored and popular of these events is the 40th Street Summer Series, a festival held several times during the season with the intention of “increasing patronage at nearby retailers and building upon the existing vibrancy of 40th Street, while providing entertaining, enriching and safe outlets for families, visitors and [Penn] students.” The fourth (and last) date in the series will be on Saturday, Sept. 27th, and it will feature one of the city’s most promising acts, Man Man, a spirited young group with an exquisite blend of styles and a refreshing sense of humility. Trust me: you don’t want to miss it.

Led by lyricist Honus Honus (whose words now feature “a new [level of] poignancy and insight”), Man Man’s most recent LP, 2013’s On Oni Pond, is still receiving rave reviews. Billed as a rebranding of sorts, the record has been described by the band as “a compelling mash-up of Fear Of Music era Talking Heads, classic soul, psychedelia, hip hop, and 50’s rock and roll…On Oni Pond melds these seemingly disparate influences into an unexpectedly lush, melodic album...” Honos elaborates by saying that the disc is “strange and beautiful…but it’s also head on and fearless. It’s not a record that’s going to flirt with you. This is a record that’s asking you out. If you get into bed with us there’s going to be a relationship.” That’s definitely a unique way to define their music, but somehow it totally makes sense once you hear it.

Joining Man Man will be Needle Driver, a trio from NYC who mix “extreme rock [with] classical avant-grade.” The outfit consists of Brandon Seabrook (who was named “NYC’s Best Guitarist of 2012” by Village Voice), Allison Miller (a drummer/composer who’s worked with Natalie Merchant, Erin McKeown, and Brandi Carlile), and Johhny Deblase (a bassist who’s also a member of Many Arms and Zevious. In addition, he leads his own quartet and composes chamber and electronic music). Overall, their set is sure to be a zany and virtuosic prelude to Man Man’s pop grace.

The performances will begin at 6:00 PM and will be held at 40th Street Field (between Locust and Walnut streets). In addition to the aforementioned music, the gathering will include a face painter, balloon artist, jugglers, and free samples from Ben & Jerry's, among other things. Again, the entire affair is FREE, so why not partake if you can? It’ll be a great way to welcome autumn. For more information, check out the official UCD and Rotunda sites.