At diychi.org, bands perform at sustainable venues throughout the city, from garages to backyards to lofts. The DIY collective holds shows on almost every day of the week consisting mostly of sets from the DIY punk/hardcore/metal ilk, and they’re cheap and full of young bands eager to bang on their instruments for 20 minutes or so wherever they can. Waterworks, down on the south side of the loop near Printer’s Row, is essentially some dudes’ 3rd floor apartment, complete with personal effects and toiletries in the bathroom, a fully stocked fridge right near the precariously wobbly PA speakers that would periodically pitch over mid-set, and an economy size container of whey protein mix on the top shelf next to seven empty bottles of Maker’s Mark, all of which encircled the kitchen counter that was used as both the merch table and the house sound system (read: computer speakers hooked up to an iPod). The room had but one light source: a hanging paper lamp backlighting all the bands who set up and played at the end of the double-wide loft space; the capacity should have been about 30, but there were 100+ smelly-ass, sweaty-ass people in that room from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. So, no, there was no photo pit.
The fever of the room climbed steadily over three hours, reaching temperatures upwards of approx. 500° F. Preceding The Men were fellow Brooklyn band Nomos, who leaned heavily on hardcore, and Chicago’s own Birth, a sludgy, fuzzy “dirtbag noise trio” and well-adored bunch who were playing their final show as a band. Both bands ably met the expectations of the evening, with Nomos’ shirtless frontman sparking mosh pits of his own volition by just shoving the crowd out of his way. But Birth kind of stole the show by reigning in their sound and then also destroying all of their equipment on stage in a final, defining act for their band.
For the last month, I’ve been paying reverence to The Men’s debut album, Leave Home, and that was part and parcel why I stood dripping in some dudes’ apartment for the better part of three hours. And as they set up on the wreckage of Birth’s new-formed grave, the people regarded them in a different way than Birth. I don’t know if the fans were wary of a Brooklyn band coming in to steal the headlining spot over some charming hometown heroes, but The Men certainly rose to the occasion and, through the stew of crowd, set it off with psych-rock song of the year “()”.
The Men may have once been suited for this kind of venue, but they belong somewhere bigger now. Their sound is too expansive to fit in this space and begs to resound in somewhere just a little bit bigger–without a kitchen in it. The band’s focus on detail, even in the drenched mess of this show, was remarkable. The three guitarists, Nick Chiericozzi, Mark Perro, and Chris Hansell, trade off vocal duties, and while there’s no hard definition between the three yet, each brings a different flavor to the table. The noise rock of “Think”, the post punk thrash of “Bataillie”, and a cover of Devo’s “Gates of Steel” all point to a band eager to brag about their record collection but loudly. It’s an amalgam of geeky hardcore references that garnered silent approval from the back of the house and body-throwing approval from the front .
Like LCD Soundsystem, The Men know how to confidently appropriate and rearrange entire genres, effectively becoming the bastard usurper of the Punk and Hardcore throne. James Murphy knew what was great about Liquid Liquid and Gang of Four, and The Men know that Motorik beats sound great under punk guitars and that The Swans were actually pretty good. Two sides of the same coin. Let’s hope the latter can take the same career path as the former.