The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

An Electrifying Evening With Man Or Astro-man, The Pack A.D., And Wray

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 10, 2014 9:45PM

Man or Astroman at The Empty Bottle (Photo credit: Carrie McGath/Chicagoist)

After speaking with Rob DelBueno (a.k.a. Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard) of Man or Astro-man before their show at Empty Bottle Saturday night, I feel equipped to answer the question their name asks of its audience: Man or Astro-man? And it seems that answer would be "Astro-man." Since landing on planet Earth (specifically in Auburn, Alabama) in 1991, they have been giving their dedicated fans almost neverending doses of their own brand of surf rock that is also influenced very much by science fiction and, I suppose, their outer space origins.

The show was packed with people who had been there the evening before and returned Saturday to watch it all again, speaking to the band's loyal and impassioned fan base. The energy of the band feeds their predilection for outrageous, infectious, and theatrical performances. The shows have always been intoxicating, even avant garde, where in the past they set a theremin on fire and employed a Tesla coil. Sadly, these are no longer allowed on stage by venues; Delbueno said what they would owe a venue in damages would often exceed what they were being paid. Even without a flaming theremin or a Tesla coil, their shows amaze and confound just as the world way out there does.

The Pack A.D. at The Empty Bottle. (Photo by Matthew Meschede)

The opening bands, Vancouver's The Pack A.D. and Birmingham's Wray, got the crowd in the necessary rock space for the headliners, and the crowd was as electrified as a Tesla coil from beginning to end. Everyone on stage Saturday night was a true rock and roll badass, and the resulting atmosphere never wavered from complete and palpable rollicking energy. The two-members of The Pack A.D., played solid, forceful, and perfectly executed punk rock while Wray presented melodic, no-wave punk. This was a perfect play bill with these three bands very much in sync while also demonstrating their individual sound and performance style.

The night continuously evolved in sound and presentation and after it was all over, the air inside Empty Bottle felt like it was still very much charged and humming.

Wray at The Empty Bottle (Photo by Matthew Meschede)

Material from Man or Astro-man's first album in 12 years, Defcon 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 will no doubt continue to be the highlight as they close out their international tour next week.