Critic Abducted by Space Aliens!!

Coco of Man... or Astro Man? Man... or Astro Man?
with The Subsonics
The Starfish Room
Vancouver, B.C.
Thursday, July 11, 1996

Review by P. Freako
Photography by Paul Clarke

It's not everyday you're wet with anticipation waiting for an alien invasion. That, however, was the case on this hot, steamy Vancouver eve. We were packing into the Starfish Music Station when we were bombarded by sonic reverberations from a space band whose Earth base lies deep in the heart of Alabama. Who knew that Astromen surf with powerful intensity? Carrying The Subsonics more psychic energy than Yoda, Man... Or Astroman powered through a set of heavy surf tunes that blew the crowd away. First things first though. Opening the invasion was a trio which very well may have surfaced from the Earth's core. But how did they get past Spiderman and the Molemen? After witnessing their performance tonight, I think I can explain.

The Subsonics, said Earth tunnelers from Atlanta, Georgia, surfaced at the Starfish and transmogrified themselves into the shape of various human mutations. The drummer, complete with a bone in her hair, took the shape of Wilma Flintstone as the lead role in Westside Story. The lead singer and guitarist took the form of a fusion between Ziggy Stardust and Gary Numan. Musically, they took the shape of a thumping trio, pounding out simple, straight-ahead rockabilly songs. We all ended up falling in love with this mutation. Why?

The Subsonics At first I didn't find them overly captivating. I said to myself, "self, here we go again, a basic 1-2-1-2 drum beat coated with wanky guitar and moody vocals." Au contraire, mon frére. The Subsonics rocked. The bubble gum snappin' drummer was dynamic in her kick and tom crushing, while the bass player, facially staid, stood atop the amp until he was forced to jump down and join in on some vocal duties. The lead singer and guitarist just leaned over the mic and sang while laying down screechy, rocky guitar parts that gave them that artistic edge. Bands like the Rattled Roosters and a host of others have the punkabilly thing happenin', but this was more toned down, and it became rhythmically infectious as the set wore on. "Fire Engine" was a cool song which had backup wailing to create that blaring siren effect... cool! Then it happened.

There he was. The fabulous "Fonzie." Picture Bootsy Collins' street brother. Toned down to a t-shirt and pink spandex pants with white fur-like boots and that wild Bootsy hair and glasses combo, he became a dancing machine that, combined with the Subsonics, vaulted those of us in attendance into dancing slaves. That's how they got by Spidey and the Molemen.

Coco of Man... or Astro Man? But back to the main invasion. Man... or Astro Man? took us on a galactic surf rock journey around Uranus, where we spit over the side at Star Trek's Data for being such a geek. Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard sensed the mood and upon hearing the call of Star Crunch's guitar, hurled himself backwards, like a fired rocket booster. Regaining control, he bounded about the stage, plunging himself into his bass replicator strings. Star Crunch duplicated those heavy surf sounds of yesteryear, and had his guitar replicator reverberating and echoing throughout the Starfish front chambers. Immediately we were in hyperdrive.

Dexter X of Man... or Astro Man I mean, we had the space station set up with audio visual devices strewn about the stage, translucent tubing hanging from the ceilings and other weird gadgets dispersed throughout. This high tech wizardry turned the stage into the bridge. Man... or Astro Man? had us dancing and dreaming of surfing on Mars after 20 cups of Turkish coffee. You know, there was nothing new, musically, but there was something definitely awesome.

Visually, too. Admiring their assorted space outfits, I wondered if Devo were ever abducted. Hmmm...

So why was this space band here? Coco answers the question: "We've got a job to do.", and immediately leapt into "Uranus is our Planet," giving the crowd more of their power-surf expertise. This was one tight band that even provided us with cheesy, coordinated guitar poses that added rocket fuel to the pleasure tank of the crowd. We were in love and I can tell you that about 200 people are now hoping to be abducted by aliens. Hey! Is that Agent Mulder pogoing over there?

This was simply a spectacular show.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on July 25, 1996

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