From tranquil to rowdy, Brown Concert Agency's fall concert offered a thoroughly enjoyable show featuring Canadian indie-scenesters Islands and eclectic, manic rockers Man Man to a sold-out audience in Alumnae Hall on Friday night.
"Both acts were fantastic," said BCA Booking Chair Dan Ain '09, who explained that both bands, especially Man Man, were picked because of their reputation for putting on great live shows.
"It's great when you bring in bands who are not really mainstream but can sell out a venue," Ain said.
Administrative Chair Stephen Hazeltine '09 noted that this was the first time in a couple of years that the fall concert had two completely live bands. Last year's BCA concert featured a solo DJ and producer, RJD2.
"So it was fun to get a different vibe and probably appeal to a slightly different demographic," he said.
The night started off slowly with a good but low-energy performance by calypso-inspired indie-rockers Islands. Dressed mostly in black, the band wasted little time with talk and played a clean set of songs ranging from infectious, breezy pop to dull, monotonous numbers.
"I liked their energy a lot, and it made them really enjoyable to listen to," David Manning '12 said.
The calm, almost indifferent energy of the band allowed the audience to stand quietly and bob their heads in enjoyment and approval. However, for those who may not have known all the words or appreciated the nuances of eight-minute songs, the performance felt a bit lackluster and the band didn't seem to be having that much fun.
Rarely looking up from their instruments or smiling, they took quick breaks only to switch instruments - from guitar to bass clarinet, violin to teal plastic xylophone - or to give the lead singer time to put on white, opaque Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses.
The audience and band's energy picked up on a couple of their more upbeat songs, "Don't Call Me Whitney, Bobby," "Rough Gem" and "Creeper." One of the violinists drew laughs by periodically unbuttoning his shirt and folding into impressive backbends while managing to continue playing his violin. Several times, he stopped playing and turned a "Blue Steel"-inspired gaze onto the audience, performing a series of sensual shoulder rolls.
But Islands' general sense of seriousness, serenity and calm exploded in a fury of screams, sparkles and mayhem when Man Man took the stage.
Suspense built for the headliners as BCA and band members filled the stage with unusual props and instruments, including drums decorated with colorful tape, a feather headdress, a pink Furby, a plastic duck and cowbells.
The Furby, according to Hazeltine, was requested by the band in their contract.
"Usually bands just request water and Diet Coke. I think Man Man was just trying to be funny and give us a hard time," Hazeltine said, seeming amused by the whole thing.
Clad in their usual disheveled white clothing and war paint, Man Man entered the stage as if ready for battle and immediately delivered with an opening number that sounded both vaudeville and tribal.
Band members amped up the energy as they led the audience in clapping along, dissolved into wild shrieks and pounded ferociously on their instruments. And the audience responded with a tumult of screams, unruly dancing and one attempt at crowd surfing.
Ain was thrilled with the audience's response to Man Man, describing the show as "perfect."
"I think Man Man put on a better show," Jessica Man '11 said. "They were more outrageous and interacted a lot more with the audience, so the crowd was a lot more energetic and wild."
With almost no pauses between songs and a sort of hysterical energy, Man Man's performance felt like a kind of circus. Beyond the raucous yelling, they boosted the energy with a wide variety of instruments, some looking like they came from a junkyard and others from a preschool.
As band members switched and swapped instruments they also traded places around the stage, sometimes sneaking up on other band members or just wandering back and forth.
The lead singer, Honus Honus, who periodically changed headbands from silver and sparkly to what looked like a belt, was the most rambunctious. Dripping with sweat, he paraded across the stage with gyrating dance moves and occasionally threw water or feathers into the crowd.
As their final song came to a close, band members put down their instruments and tossed Quaker Oats cereal to the audience.
However strange and eccentric both performances were, Ain felt that anyone who is "into rock" appreciated both artists.
"I think their different styles complemented each other well and balanced out the whole evening," Manning said.
BCA is now in the early stages of planning Spring Weekend. Students can request three bands they would like to see through an Undergraduate Council of Students poll available on MyCourses. Completing the poll will also enter participants into a lottery to win tickets to the concert.