The Men Biltmore, Vancouver BC April 19

The Men Biltmore, Vancouver BC April 19
Photo: Steve Louie
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The Men may have a lot of influences, as evidenced by their four varied albums that draw on country, punk and rock, but if their live show is any indication, they still have a long way to go in channelling those influences effectively. All four men standing, save drummer Rich Samis, took turns singing as they played, but none of them had remotely tuneful voices. This made their numerous attempts at harmonizing thoroughly cringe-worthy. Their stage presence was a little lacking as well. They didn't say much, and one mid-set tuning session took over two minutes to finally drop into a song that sounded like "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Green Day. Worst of all, though, was the ill-advised harmonica that Mark Perro brought out for a couple songs. He mostly just breathed in and out on the same note while wiggling it a bit for no real reason. Normally, harmonica is the icing on the cake, but this evening, it was the fly in the ointment. So, no, despite being a quintet, they ain't exactly the Band.

That said, the Brooklyn band did bring their fair share of gifts. They were generally rough at the start, but they spewed vigorous energy from the moment they hit the stage, and as they went along, their play tightened. Samis lost his shirt a couple songs in, possibly having disintegrated from the heat he produced on the kit. Certainly, Nick Chiericozzi can shred a guitar like nobody's business. The fans reciprocated their increasing verve. When "I Saw Her Face" from their latest album New Moon hit its double-time denouement, a fan-boy trotted out into the middle of the crowd with a plastic men's room sign, which simply said "MEN" with an up-arrow next to it, and moshed for a bit. Turns out, he stole it from a pillar in the venue, because a bouncer came and escorted him from the building by the end of the song. But then, as he was just outside, another guy grabbed an identical sign from another pillar and did the exact same thing. Just goes to show you can't keep a good crowd down.