The Men @ The Garage, London 19.03.13

Brooklyn punks turn in an unruly, ultimately unsatisfying set in The Smoke

Mar 19th, 2013 at The Garage, London / By Lewie Peckham
The Men @ The Garage, London 19.03.13 With latest album New Moon dividing fans into two camps (one side embracing the foray into mellow, country rock while the other lamenting the loss of the noisy, garage punk of earlier releases) tonight’s sold-out show by Brooklyn’s The Men seems to be pandering to the former with its full throttle attack and sweaty noise.

Unfortunately, between the bluster and energy of The Men’s live show lies a sadly underwhelming band. Content to ape what they feel is an influence of legendary fuck-ups The Replacements and the buzzsaw guitar noise of Dinosaur Jr, The Men’s set is an affected pastiche of both bands. It’s not to say the band aren't noisy fun tonight as they rattle through their set, heads banging and legs splayed.

Guitarist/singers Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi shout over each other and songs like Turn it Around and the Buzzcocks pop punk of Open Your Heart are boisterous fun for the few minutes it takes for the band to blast through them. After the initial fun of the band’s opening bombast it soon becomes clear that the band only have two songs, squalling garage punk histrionics or squalling garage punk histrionics with feedback laden guitar solos that try to channel J Mascis minus the Dinosaur Jr. leader’s talent for the memorable hooks buried in each ear-splitting guitar solo.

When The Men do break this mould their set threatens to become exciting but that break comes in the form of the lumbering, drawn-out jam of I Saw Her Face which drags for well over its original five minute running time. In what the band might think is a cacophonous ode to the sheet metal noise of Crazy Horse, I saw Her Face is in reality, a dull exhibition of stodgy self-indulgence.

The beauty of The Men’s obvious influences lie in their honesty. The Replacements were self sabotaging sloppy drunks content to consciously screw up musically in what was, early on in their career, an equal mix of misplaced 'punk' pride and fear. Watching The Men play tonight, there is an unshakable feeling that their rehearsal room contains a band trying too hard to sound unruly.