I have a considerable archive of images of live shows that have for one reason or another never been published before, so I have decided to start sharing some of those because why let them just sit on a hard drive or in a box of 35mm negatives? I will share photo sets as I have time and as I sort through things (as some of the older parts of my archive are very disorganized) and write up any details I may remember from the particular show.
For our second edition of the show throwbacks, here is Man Or Astro-Man? who also so nicely just released brand new music this week for the first time since 2013, the double single, Space 1991. And there’s really no better way to celebrate that than with finally getting these pictures out into the world. I went to this show in February 2020 aka the waning days of the “before times,” and with how unsure things were at that time along with the growing anxiety I started feeling soon after (and not having shot it for any particular outlet at the time), the pics sat in limbo for a year and a half. That is just a waste, because I love this band and this photo set, so what better time than now to share?
The title track “Space 1991” is pure straight up MOAM, their classic surf punk stylings on full display. “Tenth Planet” is also true to form of their sound, but with a bouncier, decidedly more pop rock, surf infused vibe overall, and is also one of their limited tracks to feature vocals. And even if this is a bit of a divergence for them, they pull it off seamlessly and it doesn’t sound out of place at all, rather a look into a new direction. I’d compare that really to track one being more close to the Dick Dale milieu, with track two in The Beach Boys vein in both the sense of vibe and sound. Which is not to say that is a bad thing at all, I can take some poppier MOAM just fine! I really loved both songs, as well as the atmospheric link track “Memory Machine,” a trippy spaced out noise tie between the two songs.
Space 1991 cover.
The band had this to say on their Bandcamp page about the release:
“Over the last few years, we’ve put together a ton of new recordings and also we’ve also always had this endlessly bubbling vat of material that has been waiting to be curated and cataloged,” say the band. “This new single is the first bit of all this crap. Much to the detriment of our sanity, we probably toured more than any band in the 1990s and we were constantly on the road for a decade. This was mostly due to us just being punk rock kids from Alabama who wanted to go absolutely anywhere we could. We never imagined we would get to travel to nearly 50 countries and meet so many amazing people over the years. Anyway, while on those travels, we did a ton of studio and radio sessions that we plan on getting out at some point including the 8 BBC Peel Sessions we did. This ‘Space 1991’ single sort of bridges the gap between all the old and new crap. Basically, it’s our very own take on the whole right-before-having-a-mid-life crisis space rock genre that all the kids are so crazy about these days.”
As for the show, in hindsight, with so many very sad and stressful things having happened in the world and in my own life since then, I don’t remember a ton of the specifics of this particular night. I think my brain just has compartmentalized stuff that happened immediately around the time of the initial lockdowns so it isn’t easily recalled; I’ve found my sense of time is very off for a lot of 2020 in general and I have a hard time pinpointing specifics at times. But one need not remember the exact happenings to know a MOAM set was an incredible time and the pictures speak to that as well. In any case, fans know they are a band that doesn’t ever play a show at anything less than 200% and will never dial it back so when you go to see them, you are going to get well more than your money’s worth. I wish they toured up this way more often (in general, they hadn’t been as often as I’d have liked before Covid too) because I have seen them twice now, but still have not been sated and absolutely am not shy about wanting more.
This particular show was also an after party for the film launch of Brainiac: Transmissions After Zero documentary. While I did not see the film that night (and unfortunately still haven’t), it is about the legendary band, Brainiac, who sadly had their career cut short in 1997 upon the sudden death of their singer Tim Taylor. Also on the bill that night were psych/garage/electro project Monograms, and Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav who DJ’d. Again, since my memory is a bit fuzzy on this night, I had totally forgotten about the DJ set but I was reminded of that fact when Harrington himself mentioned it at the recent show Les Savy Fav played at Market (see our review/pics here).
Coco The Electronic Monkey Wizard.
In the spirit of wanting more live action, I watched as many of MOAM’s live videos as I could find on YouTube more than once during the pandemic. While it wasn’t the same, it did at least hold me over somewhat. I also never realized rhythm guitarist, Avona Nova (aka Samantha Paulsen), was in other bands of the decidedly mathy/post punk variety. I explored some of that work, picking up Mean Queen on a Bandcamp Friday, and also digging into We Versus The Shark, who put out Goodbye Guitar in 2020 (their first release since 2008). I do love getting to hear music that is different from what I had already known from a particular artist so this was a cool treat to discover; if nothing else, the first few months of the pandemic left me with plenty of time to explore and find new favorites.
Man Or Astro-Man? live on KEXP.
I will now leave you all to enjoy these photographic images at your computer terminals while I await here on Earth for the time when Man Or Astro-Man? releases their next transmission of new tunes in the audible range of human hearing.
Space 1991 is out now via Earth Libraries and is available on Bandcamp and Spotify.
Scroll down to see more photos of the show (pics by Kate Hoos)
MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?