It was at MusicfestNW 2010 when my friend Cyrus Ghahremäni and I pushed our way into the back of an at-capacity Hawthorne Theatre show. It was probably 112 degrees in that room with people packed in wall to wall and we were so far back I could hardly see the stage. But it didn’t really matter because this was the show I’d been most looking forward to; Man Man hit the stage and we went nuts.
Fast-forward six years and a lot has changed. Cyrus moved to L.A. because—as we recently covered—it’s awfully tricky to make it as a full-time musician in Portland. Being the funny, passionate and incredibly talented musician that he is, it’s no surprise he’s found a good foothold in Los Angeles, working as producer, composer or musician with companies like Earwolf, Adult Swim and Super Deluxe. However, it’s the musical projects he gets involved with that are perhaps the most interesting. From a tour with Shannon and the Clams, to his own progressively complex music for Hot Karate, and whatever you’d call the bizarre, amazing shit he does with comedian Bret Gelman, his musical endeavors are as varied as the number of instruments he plays.
Man Man’s front man, Honus Honus, was a guest on an episode of Jon Daly’s Rafflecast, which Cyrus was producing. They hit it off in the way that I imagine only exceptionally proficient and experimental musicians can, propelling each other into the creation of a whole new project complete with a new album (available now for preorder), a tour (currently underway), and a documentary (being filmed through the process of the album and tour).
It is a Sunday night in 2016 when my friend Cyrus Ghahremäni takes the stage at an at-capacity Mississippi Studios show with Honus Honus and the band. The crowd hasn’t heard most of the songs because the album hasn’t been released yet, but it doesn’t stop them from trying to sing along, or from jumping around with the familiar energy of a Man Man show. With costumes, stage antics and audience interaction, the 40-minute set doesn’t feel long enough when it ends and the people to my left and right both say so as they turn, sweaty and smiling, to make their way undoubtedly to the bar.
As I walk out to my car I think about that first time I saw Honus Honus play as Man Man, and I’m amused by the connections: How could I have predicted that I would one day photograph my friend and Honus Honus—one of my top 10 bands to photograph—on the same stage?