The Men at Wrongbar, Toronto – Gig review – NXNE

June 18, 2012
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The Men at Wrongbar, Toronto, NXNE 2012 - photo by Matthew Bowles, Music Vice
The Gig: The Men
Where: Wrong Bar, Toronto, Canada
When: 15 June 2012
In One Word: Blistering

The Men are a rock and roll band, plain and simple. They are four ugly, hairy dudes who wear t-shirts and play guitars very loudly, and they are very, very good at what they do. They do not smile, and they do not talk much. I don’t know the mean age of the band members, but they’re certainly older than most of their peers; as they hammer through their set, hunched over with furrowed caveman brows while they furiously strum and drum with an unmistakably adult focus, you get the sense that you are witnessing the grown-ups go to work.

The Men took the stage at an almost max-capacity Wrong Bar at midnight on Friday to the kind of ridiculously amped crowd that knows exactly what they’re there to see. Right from the opening notes, The Men took off in a typically rocket-like fashion, but it wasn’t until about three songs in when they got to playing some material from this year’s excellent, unanimously adored Open Your Heart that the whole place just went batshit.

In what might have been the most purely blistering eight minutes of white-light, white-heat rock and roll played at NXNE this year, The Men launched into Open Your Heart’s lead track “Turn It Around” and that album’s title track back-to-back, and, understandably, the whole floor erupted into a sweaty, fleshy war zone. The moment was even more undeniably badass when singer-guitarist Mark Perro busted a string in the middle of “Open Your Heart”, tore it off, and immediately proceeded to rip through a solo like it was nothing. Like I said: these guys work. Hard.

The band alternated between their muddier, grungier earlier work and the whirling monster anthems of Open Your Heart, with some seemingly new material tossed in as well. The crowd was insanely appreciative throughout, grateful for every riff; this is what loud guitars playing good songs very quickly do to people. The moshing and crowd-surfing started early in the set and only got more and more intense until climaxing with closer “Ex-Dreams”, its swirling vortex of a chorus bringing the crowd to an ecstatic boiling point. In the final minutes of the show, a kid got up on stage and started dancing like a damn foolioso, flailing his arms wildly and without inhibition the way small children do when they hear music they love. As he jumped into the crowd at the crest of the last piercing guitar solo, he had the look of a deliriously satisfied customer. The Men do good work.

© Justin Santelli, Music Vice

Photos by Matthew Bowles:

Internet link: The Men

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J. Francis

J. Francis is a freelance music critic that sprouted like an unsightly growth from the suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area and eventually ended up in Kingston, Ontario. He is a man of deliriously firm, contradictory convictions, with a life-long dream of dismantling high-art/low-art hierarchies. He loves pop music with a passion that many find unsettling and is often mistaken as being somehow ironic or insincere (nothing could be further from the truth). His favourite album is Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell. He knows that you think that's ridiculous. Regardless, he hopes you have a good day.

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