MEN at the hi-dive, 3/18/11
With Hideous Men
03.18.11 | hi-dive
Before any bands played, DJ Sl8er and Piper Rose, the dynamic duo behind Titwrench, played a variety of records that could loosely fit into the context of dance music, if you go back just over thirty years, including some Joy Division and Tones On Tail. At one point, Piper, dressed in a sailor suit, got some people on the dance floor to dance on her command -- which was a set of movements more creative than line-dancing.
Tom Murphy Hideous Men
One thing you can say for a MEN show: the outfit attracts a mixed crowd. There were people from various walks of life who were either fans of JD Samson's old band, Le Tigre or that enjoy music that embodies the spirit of liberation that band stood for. That's the crowd that welcomed Denver's Hideous Men. Ryan McRyhew addressed the issue of the names of both of the bands with a electronically manipulated voice that made everyone laugh.
Hideous Men's set was made up of mostly older material, but chances are, most of the people at the show didn't know the band's material very well, and those of us who did, sure didn't mind enduring those songs once again. If stuff that draws tons of people to arenas or large clubs can be said to be dance music, Hideous Men is making that sort of thing more relevant for people who prefer a more personal, real, intimate musical experience, mainly because the sound of this duo is incredibly well crafted experimental, electronic pop, and it's done in such a way that it sounds like the two are making it up on the spot.
With a swirl of sounds that could be haphazard in other hands, Hideous Men played songs that drew you in to a vision of a better world where people don't feel the need to exploit others and where everyone realizes their own self-worth -- all while recognizing the psychic pain and anguish you often endures when giving up ideas and lifestyles that are inherently self-destructive and not conducive to your full development. That is, if you listened to the lyrics alone.
But the gentle wash of electronic sounds over thick rhythms present in most of the band's material is a cleansing of the ears and, thus, of the mind. On the surface, Hideous Men make fun, playful, sometimes melancholic and dreamy music, but the whole package is transformative without the invasiveness of overblown rock and roll. There's a time and a place for that but Hideous Men followed their own path to making a special experience for its audience, by making the kind of music that even seems important to play in the first place. This Men band closed its set with a cover of Le Tigre's "Keep On Livin'" -- which JD Samson watched and even moved to a bit.