Friday, March 13, 2009
The Two Man Gentleman Band @ The Iron Horse, March 13th, 2009
The original plan was to stay late at the Iron Horse this evening for their free concert: The Two Man Gentleman Band (2MGB hereafter, www.thetwogentlemen.com) and The Primate Fiasco (www.primatefiasco.com). But about 24 hours ago, I decided to drive down to NYC on Saturday, which nearly moved me to abandon the whole night. Then I decided to go after all, and the schedule cooperated: I really only wanted to see 2MGB anyway, and they wound up opening. It turns out that The Primate Fiasco is a local group, and they like to bring outsiders into town for gigs like this one. And if I weren't going to drive to the city, I would have stuck around to hear their whole set--they are a kind of psychedelic, dixieland jazz ensemble (that actually sounds pretty appealing), with drums, clarinet, banjo, guitar, and tuba. I listened to their first song, a jam on "Sweet Georgia Brown," and split.
But, before then, the 2MGB worked their magic. At around 10:15, they hit the stage with a sign reading "Free Kazoos." True to their word, their lead singer, Andy Bean placed a box full of the things at the foot of the stage and, before you knew it, the entire place was armed and ready. By the way, I have never seen the Iron Horse so packed as it was this evening. Amazing the number of people who will attend a free show! I'm surprised it wasn't a fire hazard. I mean really: the staff had pushed or taken away all the tables to clear the floor for dancing and the crowd, mostly college-aged, filled the space and was seen still jiggling around by the time I left the establishment.
So, on to business. I know of the 2MGB by way of Matt Winters, who put a song of theirs, "The War of Northern Aggression" on one of his New Years CDs (see here for a video of a performance of that one). They are--yes, you guessed it--a duo of male musicians. Their shtick is that of the conservative, depression-era gentlemen. They are anti-prohibition, they praise the fat man, William Howard Taft, and they compare a breakup to the War of Northern Aggression. Beyond that, they get pretty silly, as the Iron Horse audience quickly learned. The opening number was a saucy little thing called "When Your Lips Are Playing My Kazoo." Songs like "Prime Numbers" and "Fancy Beer" yielded some raucous singalongs, and lead man Andy Bean encouraged us to play our kazoos. Which we didn't do very often. People were much more interested in dancing, although lots of the dancers--the women in particular--picked up on the gleefully filthy lyrics and found themselves laughing pretty hard as they shook and shimmied.
What else? There was "The Rabbit Foot Stomp" from their newest album, Drip Dryin’ with The Two Man Gentlemen Band (2009), about making meat out of your pet rabbit. "Drip Dryin'," about the newest dancing sensation, which Andy Bean demonstrated for us in the middle of the song. There was "Sloppy Drunk," very danceable, and "I've Been Drinking," which featured the other Gentleman, "The Councilman" Fuller Condon. In between songs, the rapport between the two consisted of quietly homoerotic gestures by way of Mr. Bean, who would reach out and stroke The Councilman's bass and touch his fingers, as he spoke affectionately of his bandmate and their life on the road together. The Councilman responded by looking nervous. The 2G were dressed in lovely suits and hats, and The Council wore a spiffy bowtie.
The 2MGB played for about 40 minutes. Andy Bean played 4-string banjo and a little guitar, along with a Jesse Fuller-style set-up, including cowbell, cymbals, horn, and so forth. "The Councilman" Fuller Condon played stand-up bass and sang harmonies. Andy played lead kazoo and The Councilman played back-up kazoo ("tenor kazoo," he protested, when Andy Bean introduced him, prompting him to make the correction).
I had wanted to say hello to the gentlemen after the show and maybe offer them a lift back to Queens tomorrow, but I lost them in the crowd. It turns out that they are making their way to Boston tomorrow, anyway.