Man Factory (Arlington): For my first assignment as the full-time music editor, I drove to Eric "Fishboy" Michener's house to draw cartoons. It was a good, strange time--we drank punch, brainstormed kooky art ideas and listened to whatever CDs of his I didn't recognize. Of all the CDs he played me, Man Factory stood out the most. The young band's four-track demos sounded like Michener had a little cousin who was just as obsessed with nerd-rock as he was, only this cousin was much better at electric guitar (something Fishboy forgoes in favor of tuba, xylophone and other oddities). I chased the band down and saw the epitome of "promising" in concert--hugely energetic songs performed by a sloppy gang of college students. It was the kind of gig you might enjoy as an opening act, but you'd never want to bother seeing the five-piece from that first show as a headliner.
That changed in February during an incredible gig at Club Clearview, where Man Factory changed its tune for a packed house. Methinks the crowd was mostly friends of the band, since they knew words to songs that have yet to be released on CD, but Man Factory soaked up the energy and delivered a post-Weezer performance that was plenty more Pinkerton than Green Album. Thankfully, the group has its own charm; its unabashed odes to truck driving, Street Fighter II and Boyz II Men-style balladry are so confident and exciting that the group's cheesiness, nerdiness and self-indulgence wind up sounding endearing. Does the pop-rock group still have room to grow? Certainly, and if you were ever a jock or a bully, you'll probably be repulsed by the band's smiles and cuteness, but "promising" isn't the right word for a band whose promises are already being fulfilled. -Sam Machkovech