Austin – Men Without Hats was undoubtedly one of the most unique shows I have ever went to. Now for some background, Men Without Hats are a Canadian 80s new wave band that gained popularity with hit singles The Safety Dance and Pop Goes The World. You have heard those songs before. They were the headliners for NXNE‘s showcase in Austin, at a nice and late time of 1 am.
My pure interest in attending this showcase was just to hear The Safety Dance and also, to just say that I saw them. I’m sure a small minority at Club Deville were in that group. As I soon found out, the majority of the people at the show were big Men Without Hat fans who I suspect have been waiting awhile to see these guys.
Starting about ten minutes past one, Men Without Hats lead singer came on stage to a rapturous applause. Dressed in a leather hat and wearing those weird sunglasses that I thought only Bono wore, the rather well tanned Ivan Doroschuk looked like he just stepped out of his house in Fort Lauderdale for the show.
The mostly way over 30 crowd didn’t care. They were putty in this man’s hands. It became pretty apparent that most people here knew lyrics to all the songs and with Ivan Doroschuk’s baritone voice, pointed deliveries and classic rock star stage moves, the atmosphere quickly got festive.
One woman fan appeared to be the time of her life. Probably in her early forties, I am sure that she had waited her whole life to see this band. She had also secured one of the few chairs available in Club Deville and so at the start of the show, she was comfortably sitting. However with the first strings of the first song, her excitement was unstoppable and she had to get up. There she threw her first awkward double fist pump, yet for most of the song, despite wanting to get closer to see her heroes, she would only stray a few inches from her chair, not wanting to lose such a valuable resource. “What if I had to sit? I’m old and it’s 1am!” she must have thought. However, as Men Without Hats played what I suppose to be hit after hit, the woman got more and more excited and probably thought “fuck it” and abandoned the chair in favor of rushing to the front of the stage. It was quite heartwarming to see music give people such an excitable rush. My photographer Derek then took the chair.
Okay back to the show, obviously I am unaware of any Men Without Hats songs besides the two I mentioned. The crowd was loving it all though. When the opening beats of the Safety Dance emerged, people just lost it. They started doing the wave and even Ivan did it. At this point, I fully realized how it would feel to be on board those classic rock boat cruises that are thrown together once in awhile. I was on that rock cruise. Obviously the song inspired a singalong and also… wait for it… a CONGA line! Seriously. It was kind of amazing. Pop goes the world ended the set and I am pretty sure you couldn’t find a happier group of concert goers that night.
1. Jumpin Jack Flash (Rolling Stone Cover)
4. I Got The Message
5. Living in China
6. Safety Dance
7. Pop Goes The World
8. I Like