The Men at 7th Street Entry, 6/18/12

The Men
With Buildings
7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Monday, June 18, 2012

Even with rock acts as honed as the Men, you can expect a certain approach to a new-found, welcoming audience that they've come to entertain. Bands from similar launching platforms (Titus Andronicus in support of The Monitor, or Fucked Up in support of The Chemistry of Common Life) have always played to the interests of their infantile fandom. When you're nurturing your national audience, it is just sensible to play those burgeoning hits. The Men didn't do that during a merciless Entry performance.

Over the course of a 50-minute set, encore included, co-founders Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi didn't take a moment to speak or tune or breathe. There was a noticeable amount of Jack Daniels passed between members -- a move that was guided by the freshly added bassist, Ben Greenberg. Greenberg himself surprisingly played de-facto ringleader, both in sonic and visual presence.

The Entry can be a hard room to play for an act like the Men. It operates on limited engineering resources and such canny treble that stems from a basic drum kit. Greenberg wasn't necessarily leading songs like Chiericozzi did with one banshee-pitched solo after another, but his open hand whacking undercut the deafening clamor of Mark Perro's and Chiericozzi's fuzzed guitar. He also just plainly seemed the most excited to wrap this crowd full of pent-up kids into a two-step frenzy.

It's easy to wish the songs would have landed with greater clarity. It is inevitable that the Entry can just carry a boxy sound. Make no mistake, every bit of the set landed with an aural punch, but the level of dissonance left their penchant for technical distinction stewing but never boiling over. Four songs in they played "Turn it Around" and "Open Your Heart," two recent standouts, in a medley. "()" from last year's Leave Home popped in around seven songs in. They closed with a shit-hot take of "Ex-Dreams." It was one that Greenberg laid back a bit to show Perro and Chiericozzi's knack for playing off each other as songwriters.

Still, there was that absence of The Men's newfound confidence in the jam. "Oscillation" and "Country Song" were both notably missed from a set that was conceivably in support of an album that pointed towards their gleeful interest in rock history. Even though Perro played Harmonica through a spatter of the first few songs, it never filled the steely void that "Open Your Heart" brought into the fold.

But that all still feels okay. Twin Cities post-hardcore act Buildings led into The Men with a set that stirred pure aggression throughout the crowd, and I can't help but wonder if they influenced the way Chiericozzi and Perro approached their set. Walking into the room with expectations of steel-strings seemed feasible around 9:30 p.m., but only broken-string vitriol sounded welcome by the time they took the stage at 11:10 p.m. It also felt wholly satisfying by the time they walked off at midnight.

Personal Bias: "Open Your Heart" is the best record I've heard this year. I went into this show with similarly sprawling hopes of grandeur. Also: The Men really messed up my ears and shook my cochlear balance.

The crowd: A pleasantly engaged mix. There was the expected fixed-gear calvary. There was a welcome patch of sunlight-robbed, barely-eighteen boys. And more noticeable was the batch twenty-something of average Joes who seemed more than happy to let off some cubical steam in the form of open-palmed shoving.

Overhead in the crowd: "I don't want to get my piercing ripped out!"

Random notebook dump: I saw more than one Black Flag t-shirt. I am pleased.

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