JD Samson & MEN and Glitterbang were the perfect pair to host an outrageously sexy dance party at Chop Suey. After all, MEN’s whole focus as a band is, as their website states, “the energy of live performance and radical potential of dance music.” It was mental, with everything from frontwoman JD Samson’s oversized felt puppet pants, to couples (or maybe not couples) making out ferociously in the crowd. The band’s songs deal with issues of sexual identity, the unjust policing of people’s bodies, and the effects of wartime economies. The band opened with “Credit Card Babies,” their best known song that celebrates sexual agency by singing, “I’m gonna f*ck my friends.” In their second song of the night, JD sang, “Shake it downtown to the tambourine,” and handed her tambourine to a crowd member to keep the beat. The instrument traveled from person to person and got everyone moving and dancing.
JD is best known for her involvement in Le Tigre with fellow MEN bandmate Johanna Fateman, and started MEN with Fateman and Michael O’Neill in 2007. I had the pleasure of seeing them open for The Gossip on their 2009 tour, and it’s still one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s rare that you see an opener, especially at a punk show, get people dancing to electronic melodies and groovy basslines. With a band as fantastic as Gossip, it was amazing that MEN were impressive in their own right.
It was Michael’s birthday, and the band surprised him with a cake and an electronic piano version of “Happy Birthday.” Glitterbang’s backup dancers carried the cake on stage, and one of them crammed a huge piece into Michael’s mouth. He cleaned up with his towel, which he joked he’d stolen from their hotel in San Diego. At this confession of wrongdoing, JD teased, “You guys are, like, in the band now!”
Local openers Glitterbang, shrouded for the first half of their set in fluorescent yellow cloaks and fog, churned out heavy dance jams. Singer Nicki Danger crooned into the mic in a style reminiscent of Madonna or Robyn. Keyboardist Joey Veneziani wore shades and controlled the beat with his multiple synths, Kaoss pad in one hand. The duo reminded me of Detroit’s ADULT., but a little less harsh around the edges. Local dancer duo Fly Girls performed behind the band, their silhouettes twerking in the fog. The highlight of the set was the band’s rendition of “Gates of Steel” by Devo, surely a nod to founding member Bob Casale’s recent death.
MEN released their debut album, Talk About Body, in 2011, and a new album called Labor is in the works. It was the last night of their tour, but keep an eye out for their future shows. Without a doubt, they’ll continue to innovate new and progressive ways to get your body moving.