June, 8, 2007
Better Than: Ezra.
Download: "Wet and Rusting" from their Myspace.
It's pronounced 'men-ahh-men-uhh', people. Like the word 'phenomena.' Menomena, phenomena. Get it right. The Portland indie rock trio lacks the best name in West, but they overcompensate by bringing like, a dozen instruments to their shows.
They surprised their fans and themselves a bit by selling out the 1,500 capacity Independent in San Francisco Friday night after eight prior Bay dates, says vocalist Justin Harris. The band has slowly moved up the ranks of the Hemlock, Cafe du Nord, and one desolate Fillmore date. "Thanks to all the like 50 people who came out for that show," Harris said.
Friday marked the 5th stop on Menomena's long as hell summer tour, [link to menomena tour dates] promoting their new album Friend and Foe, released through Barsuk. The band proved capable of condensing the sprawling instrument and effects-laden gem. But not too much. Drummer Danny Seim bashed the shit out of his kit while center man Harris traded bass for guitar for glockespiel while running a Moog full of samples. Corner man Brent Knopf had the worst of it.
Knopf juggled guitar, bass, synth, laptop, and a fair amount of vocal duties. Homeboy blew it at least six times through the night, missing beats, hitting the wrong notes. Switching from synth riff to guitar and ... volume knob! gotcha ... turn the instrument up, there you go. Harris just eyes him. No biggy. It happens.
The crowd really responded to 'The Pelican', but otherwise they shat the fuck up and tried to keep track of who was playing what. Rapt, they were, with an extremely low percentage of lurkers chasing hype. Menomena's built it from the ground up, and they play like their careers depends on it. Probably 'cus it does.
Personal Bias: White dude nearing 30 listening to same. Dirty.
Random Detail: Matt, from Millbrae drove 40 miles on his motorcycle only to find the show sold out.
By the way: I traded Matt my extra ticket for his extra Camel Red Light.
Read on for Menomena's day jobs, marital woes and album tribulations. Link to CD Review for Friend and Foe
Video clip of 'The Pelican' by Menomena
Menomena Summer Tour
06-01 Seattle, WA - KEXP (live on-air appearance)
06-01 Seattle, WA - Neumos *#
06-02 Vancouver, British Columbia - Red Room
06-06 Eugene, OR - WOW Hall *
06-08 San Francisco, CA - Independent *
06-09 Sacramento, CA - Harlow's *
06-10 Visalia, CA - Cellar Door *
06-12 Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour *
06-13 Pomona, CA - Glass House *
06-14 San Diego, CA - Casbah *
06-15 Tucson, AZ - Solar Culture *
06-16 Tempe, AZ - Clubhouse *
06-19 Austin, TX - Parish *
06-20 Houston, TX - Walter's on Washington *
06-21 Dallas, TX - Granada Theater *
06-22 Lawrence, KS - Bottleneck *
06-23 Omaha, NE - Waiting Room *
06-27 London, England - Barfly
06-29 Stockholm, Sweden - Accelerator Festival
07-01 Rotterdam, Netherlands - Metropolis Festival
07-02 Dortmund, Germany - FZW
07-04 Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg
07-06 Paris, France - La Fleche D'or
07-07 Evreux, France - Le Rock Dans Tous Ses Etats Festival
07-13 New York, NY - Seaport Music Festival
07-15 Chicago, IL - Union Park (Pitchfork Music Festival) ^
07-22 Troutdale, OR - Edgefield Amphitheater $
* with All Smiles
# with Grand Archives
^ with the New Pornographers, Stephen Malkmus, De La Soul, Of Montreal, Jamie Lidell, the Sea and Cake, Junior Boys, the Field, Cadence Weapon, the Cool Kids, Klaxons, Nomo, Deerhunter, the Ponys, Craig Taborn's Junk Magic, Brightblack Morning Light, Fred Lonberg-Holm's Lightbox Orchestra
$ with the Decemberists
Friend and Foe (Barsuk)
By David Downs
Published: March 14, 2007
"Take it!/When I'm not looking!/Take it from the hook while it's still kicking!/Don't you feel it when I start reeling!" The fishing metaphor accompanying the stalking piano riff on the opening of "The Pelican" is an apt metaphor. Friend and Foe's bait is friendly Portland, Oregon, post-rock, but the hooks (oh, the hooks) go deep, and when Menomena pulls you to the surface, there will be gasping and disorientation. This band seemed so nice on its 2004 debut, I Am the Fun Blame Monster. "I have a close friend who's just been so supportive and he said, 'Man, you can stop now. This is too depressing, it's too much of a downer record. You can't release this,'" says guitarist Brent Knopf. But by late 2006, the band's planned basement-recording time had tripled from four months to a year. "We were running out of time," Knopf says. The album reflects the tumult. Using bass, drums and piano — with healthy splashes of guitar, keyboards, sax, glockenspiel and some digital effects — Foe channels the anxiety of three men turning 30 amid needy wives, needy mortgages and critical success perversely heaped atop financial insolvency. ("It's high time we step outside, drop the gloves and settle this like men," the three sing on "Rotten Hell." They might be talking about one another.) But Foe picks its fight with the idea that a great record has to cost $50,000 to make. "We had four shitty mikes instead of one this time," Knopf recalls. They make up for it with inspiration, perspiration — and maybe a couple of bloody noses.