Saying gay with queer indie-rockers Man on Man at Will's Pub

click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
Man on Man, Stiletto and Flagman at Will's Pub (July 24):

Thanks to our profoundly wrong governor, Florida has become known as the “Don’t Say Gay” state. Well, fuck that. We here in Orlando say GAY. NYC indie-rock duo Man on Man also say GAY, and they do it with big, fuzz-soaked guitars for which I am so very GAY, GAY, GAY.
Although the band formed and emerged in the deep shadow of COVID, the fact that one of them was Roddy Bottum of Faith No More and Imperial Teen automatically made them notable from the outset. Unfortunately, though, we’ve had to wait through both the pandemic and another yearlong rescheduling delay for Man on Man’s Orlando debut. Well, it finally happened, and it was a desperately needed antidote to all the official oppression happening Florida lately.
click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
Man on Man aren’t just a band that happens to have gay members. They’re a band that’s about being gay. There’s some clear edgemanship in their songs where they thread the needle between out and outrageous, but this isn’t queer coonery here. Roddy Bottum and Joey Holman are just getting really real with it, and their version blends point-blank candor with roguish humor. And beyond the winking revelry, it all comes from a place that’s intensely personal.
click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
With a setup of two guitars, synths and a drum machine, Man on Man’s live show is raw and loud. Their performance also teases out some of their undercurrents. While their often sardonic delivery sometimes belies their dance intent, watching the real-life couple move onstage highlights the physical joy of their music. And it’s about time we finally see the scene of two dudes in dueling guitar action that dispenses with the homoerotic subtext and just goes all-out gay.
click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
Another side of them that’s given full spotlight on stage is their heart. With audience addresses that gave added context, the underlying humanity of their songs came out more live. Furthermore, their touching appreciation to be here was underscored by lots of personal words that split some nice local hairs and acknowledged the true pulse of Orlando by Joey Holman, who said he’s long felt this city’s love and openness from coming here while in other bands (one was, LOL, Christian indie group Cool Hand Luke).
click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
No doubt, Man on Man were great fun on stage. But the bigger thing they did was create a fully queer space for the night. In a neo-Dark Ages time when equality is under fire like we’ve not seen in generations, that’s becoming increasingly crucial. And from their music, their message and, now, seeing them in concert, Man on Man are looking a lot like indie rock’s next great queer icons.
click to enlarge Man on Man at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Man on Man at Will's Pub
Speaking of a response to the zeitgeist, new Orlando band Stiletto kicked off the night. The feminist queercore group are very much a product of their time, which, like the 1980s, is bad for living but good for art.
click to enlarge Stiletto at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Stiletto at Will's Pub
They wore clothes of black and neon and their queerness on their sleeves. Their sound was blend of chunky punk rock, a touch of synth and a payload of righteous riot-grrrl rage. They’re a flashy and tough group that are solidifying quickly for a new band.
click to enlarge Stiletto at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Stiletto at Will's Pub
Also playing were local trio Flagman, who still confuse me. For any freak-metal band that worships at the altar of Primus like they do, that’s probably intentional to some extent. But either it’ll click with you or it won’t, nothing in between. What I can say, though, is that they’re very skilled players, especially the sick, gymnastic chops of virtuosic bassist-singer Sam Stewart.
click to enlarge Flagman at Will's Pub - Jim Leatherman
Jim Leatherman
Flagman at Will's Pub

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