To the best of my recollection I first saw Man or Astro Man? in downtown Memphis at a grimy indie rock club called Barristers circa 1992. With the accompaniment of multiple film projectors, a web of multi-colored lasers, and truly space-tastic set decoration, the show was invigorating to say the least. Their sound could best be characterized as really loud progressive surf music with elements of punk and krautrock thrown in for emphasis. The use of audio samples from obscure and cheesy science-fiction movies from the 1950s was an added bonus for a movie buff like me. The band was high-energy, delivering blistering licks left and right like strafing gunfire aimed at the audience. It made a real impression on me and in the ensuing five or six years I saw them many times in Memphis and Nashville.
They even stopped in at Way Out West Café - a small restaurant in Nashville where I was a bartender. I saw them from the window as they drove up in their tour van with a rotating satellite dish on the roof and NASA style logos reading "Astro" emblazoned across its side. I knew before they even stepped out that it was my favorite surf band coming to have a fortifying brunch before they hit the road for whatever town was next on their itinerary. I spent many a drunken weekend rocking out in the audience, a witness to the spectacle that is Man or Astroman?
Well here it is 20 years later and I'm looking forward to seeing them unleash their unbridled weirdness yet again at the 2013 Austin Psych Fest. I'm loving the fact that two decades later they're still here - stranded on Earth and thrashing their instruments with loving grace. Here's to you, Coco, Birdstuff, Dr. Deleto, and Star Crunch - may you spread your message deep into the 21st-century -