Thursday, May 8, 2014

Man as Machine: As Expected

The weekly column on South African bands and live shows.
 by Omri Ismail Cassiem

Band this week: Man as Machine

This week I’m doing a review on Man as Machine, a band that really does not surprise you, ever! What do I mean by that? Well if you meet the individual band members, you really aren’t surprised that they are rock stars. And if you see their music videos or listen to their music you really aren’t surprised that they are doing so well. That being said if you haven’t seen or heard anything from them, that is a very different story. Imagine, if you would, going down to your favorite watering hole and having a drink or two after a stressful week at work, and in your periphery you see a band setting up for a show. You go investigate why there are so many people standing around tittering excitedly as the band gets their levels and does a sound check… 

Then they start playing the intro to their first song, you think this is alright and out of the blue you get slapped in the face with the superhuman vocal prowess that is Rob Visser. Right there, like I am sure any fish who has ever nibbled on a strangely shaped worm could attest to, you are hooked. You are taken out of your usual world, your comfort zone, and brought into the light. Flip-flopping around, struggling to breath. That my friends is Man as Machine for you. 

They are a band that keeps you entertained with their truly professional sound, from the very first vocal part of their first song right until arguably the best buildup in any rock song I have heard, seriously: the song is called "STOP_DROP_AND_ROLL" on their debut album Nothing but a Thing. Listen to it and try tell me I’m wrong. Oh no, I’m not talking about a garage band that has retail jobs so that they can afford to play music on the weekends, nope. This band lives, eats, breaths and plays rock and roll for a living. And you can really hear it from the music they produce and the shows they put on. 
Everything makes sense in their shows, from rhythm switch-ups to lyrics and solos. Their live set is what happens when a bunch of talented musicians spend their time perfecting their show. If you have bought their CD and seen a few music videos, go see them live. If on the other hand you have watched them live but don’t own a copy of the CD, go buy the CD. Seriously from a sound perspective they are note perfect with either medium. 
But I review live shows not CD's. so you must be getting a little bit of a hint as to how they are live. If a band is note perfect with their CD they usually aren’t that impressive to see live. You could just buy their CD and enjoy every traffic jam on the way to work in the morning. 'So why put in the effort to go watch them live?' I hear you asking. Well that is why you are here. 
You see when you listen to their music they are sublime, with Rob Visser’s excellent voice and Nordon Hardman’s guitar complimenting the sound perfectly. Their rhythm section KJ Forde and Xavier Knox set interesting tempo changes, and have the versatility to change from a Jazz Tempo to a more traditional Rock tempo within a matter of bars. All of these together create songs which are fun and easy to listen to, and offer pure unadulterated fun. 
When you see them live you expect much of the same and, unsurprisingly, you get just that. Fun! Something to actually get excited about doing over the weekend. And you can count on them to produce the goods every time. With some humorous crowd interaction and an amount of effort that I’m sure isn’t healthy for them; you get a top-tier show in every performance. Whether it is to a crowd of ten or a thousand, it doesn’t really matter to them. They simply get on stage and have fun while playing a note perfect version of each song on the set list. 
So if you are the gambling type who likes to be surprised, go watch them, you never know who the other acts are that night. If you are conservative and would like to see a show but you hate not getting your money’s worth… Go see them.
Go watch them live. If you were skeptical before, they will change your view of  live bands in South Africa.