Wednesday, 27 June 2007
If you aren't experienced with their album, even soberly trying to dance to Menomena without a brief understanding of the way their sound comes together is quite difficult. The experimental pop group- Brent Knopf on guitar and keyboards, Justin Harris on bass, guitar, saxophone, and vocals, and Danny Seim on drums- have a thing for rhythm. The Portland, USA kids flood their songs with original beats, oddball pulses, and quick changes. Having three solid singers makes for some great live harmonies and increased variance in each song's personality. The power of having a band with synthesiser and drums, one of their primary shticks, gets milked for the best, with the synthesizer creating additive harmonies that gel vocals and rhythm. Harris is the primary choice for live sound vocals, his lyric releases exploding with the energy of a number of personal battles- alcohol, age, sexual insecurity.
"Hi, this is our first show in London," leaned Justin Harris into the microphone, followed by the obvious response from a ring of friends in the middle of the crowd: "CHEERS!"
In came the zany micro rhythms, something you see heralded by a rare group of artists such as Broken Social Scene or Hot Chip. Most people began with sways and careful looks at the neighbour, waiting for someone to be the first to break out dancing.
Their opening track, their powerful, electronic- heavy Muscle'n Flo, received a huge welcome that would carry the rest of the show. When bobbing attendees started chiming into the "Menomena" (also called "Phenomena" depending on the performance) song from Sesame Street between set tunes, it seemed like they were getting the beyond the tiny foot shuffle. Some more unfamiliar listeners seemed put off by the bands despondency towards the typical power-hook that erupts after steady build- their tunes seem to move in whole chunks instead of versus with predictable, heavier choruses thrown in. Menomena played like a band that didn't know what to expect from a crowd never before exposed to their live performance. London came in as a crowd that didn't know what to expect from Menomena. The two got along quite well. Though it may have taken a bit to click, Barflyers seemed prime for Menomena's fresh sound.
- Seth Graves