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Atlanta's Man or Astro-man? are a foursome who dress in elaborate, shiny, gaudy space costumes; clutter their stage with outer space-looking props; speak in digitized-sounding robot voices; give their albums funny, wordy titles like Project Infinityand Sounds of Man in Space With Sounds; give their songs funny, wordy titles like "Many Pieces of Large Fuzzy Mammals Gathered Together at a Rave and Schmoozing With a Brick" (from A Spectrum of Infinite Scaleon Touch and Go); give themselves names like Coco the Electric Monkey Wizard (their bassist), Blazar the Probe Handler (their rhythm guitarist), Trace Reading (their singer/ lead guitarist) and Birdstuff (their drummer). Shockingly, they also play music—peppy surf music that has lately been veering off in a psychedelic direction.
They're a band with a gimmick, sure—but they've immersed themselves so far into the gimmick that there's no separating the two. They are their gimmick. The music is background.
Which is not to say the music isn't good—because it is. Who doesn't like surf instrumentals? Who doesn't like songs with lyrics like, "Uranus is a planet, seventh from the sun/ Uranus is a planet; it's not the well-known one" (from "U-Uranus," off their Deluxe Men in Space album)?
Still, Man or Astro-man? are much more than their music. According to their lore, an intergalactic cruiser carrying the Man or Astro-man? space beings crashed on Earth in 1992. In order to blend in, the survivors quickly disguised themselves in human form. While trying to piece together their spaceship, they realized that much of the craft was damaged beyond repair. To get the parts they need, they tour the country playing shows in the guise of an American surf band.
Or do they? A couple of years ago, they sent two "clone" bands out on the road—the Alpha Clones, an all-male group of musicians who dressed like the band and played Astro-man? songs, and the Gamma Clones, an all-female version of the cloned band who did the same. Unfortunately, this secretive Clone Project operation is now complete, so you'll just have to settle for the real thing on Sunday, when they play that oh-so-fittingly-named-for-a-band-from-outer-space venue, the Galaxy.
MAN OR ASTROMAN? PERFORMS WITH THE MOONEY SUZUKI AND THE SPOOZYS AT THE GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, 3503 S. HARBOR BLVD., SANTA ANA, (714) 957-1133. SUN., 8 P.M. $12.