Playboy Manbaby CD release party
Cartel Coffee Lab, Tempe
April 27, 2013
I get weirded out when large crowds share unbridled enthusiasm. I chalk it up to either "rugged individualism" or "special snowflake syndrome," depending on how positively or negatively I want to look at myself. This makes me a wallflower in situations like the Occupy protests, where I fundamentally agreed with the sentiment but couldn't bring myself to shout corny slogans with hundreds of other people. I usually feel the same way when I see high-energy, "fun" bands that evoke a strong crowd reaction.
I should have felt suitably alienated at the Playboy Manbaby album release show Saturday night. The event was a show of collective Lisztomania for a band I usually try to explain to people as being "kind of ska."
The situation looked and felt like what people try to tell me the '90s were like--something over a hundred people, so far as I could tell, cramped into an artisanal coffee shop with utilitarian interior design (those large, old-timey-looking burlap sacks on the floor that people were moshing into apparently weren't quirky decorations; they had actual coffee beans in them.) People were pogoing. Hard.
I could curmudgeonly hate a scene like this. I could chalk it all up to mass delusion and indict the members of Playboy Manbaby as being a bunch of manipulative charlatans leading show-goers in the Valley (mostly Tempe) by the noses with a repertoire of alluring gimmicks.
But that would be a misappraisal of the situation. There is nothing that alluring about being "kind of ska" in 2013; it's not like EDM, with the possibility of easily scoring illicit substances as part of the appeal. Most people in attendance at this show were unwilling to pay for beer.
Read More: Tempe's Playboy Manbaby Are A Middle Finger To Hip Music
People were out on Saturday because they wanted to go crazy to Playboy Manbaby. The band is an outlet, and a locally unique one in my opinion. They play danceable and catchy music with the energy of a hardcore band, without any of the alienating aspects of hardcore culture. They are an aggro band for people who don't really have any chips on their shoulders. People who like pop music want to rage too, sometimes.
As rough as Playboy's Music can be, it's also inviting, and I think that's why so many people click with it. I've definitely warmed up to them over time. I don't think I'll ever catch myself participating in that thing that happens at Playboy Manbaby shows where everyone gets down on the ground to chant "get ready for the end of time."
But last night proved that a song like "Pulsating Cities of Geckos," which reminded me, live, of hearing Operation Ivy for the first time, will get me to pogo. They'll get anyone to pogo.