12 November 2007

Menomena @ Webster Hall - 10 November 2007

Menomena played what has notoriously become known as the "Early Bird Special" show at Webster Hall this Saturday (okay maybe not "notorious" since I just made that name up but it's the truth). The doors opened at 6:30 and the entire show wrapped by 10:20, at which point all the concert-goers were summarily herded to the exits to make room for a late night club crowd that presumably has no problem overpaying for warm bottles of beer.

Well I do mind. And I also mind when the sound guy sets a mix more appropriate for a hip hop show than a rock concert, a sentiment emphasized with every chest-rattling kick of the bass drum throughout the set. But, all of this whining is more of an indictment of Webster Hall's complete indifference to fostering a suitable concert environment rather than any reflection on Menomena, because they rocked.
Actually, "persevered" may be a better verb to describe the opening half of their set. They battled a few technical difficulties throughout the first handful of songs or so, from an unsatisfactory mix in their monitors to an errant mic on Justin Harris's baritone saxophone. To their credit, however, they handled these minor hiccups graciously and with a sense of humor - keyboardist/guitarist Brent Knopf deadpanning "welcome to the Menomena Follies!" at one point - and the crowd was clearly very much behind them.

And, what started as a somewhat above-average show soon progressed to a great performance as they settled in and ripped through more frenetic versions of tracks from both I Am the Fun Blame Monster! and Friend and Foe. Then, with only a few songs to go, an eight-piece chorus joined them onstage and lent their muscle to the show's climax, enthusiastically powering through particularly sublime renditions of "The Pelican" and "Rotten Hell".
Menomena is a wholly original entity, forging a sound entirely their own through dynamic arrangements, innovative instrumentation, and a mastery of loops and samples that feels both playful and organic. After watching their set Saturday, I couldn't help but feel bummed out that I missed them at Bowery some months back, a venue that is far more suited to their sound. Overall, I even preferred their show at South Street Seaport this past July but again I attribute that to Webster's shortcomings more than anything else. The truth is, this was a great show, and if you have an opportunity to see Menomena play live, you must DO IT.

*Special thanks to Jonathan and Nadim for taking the photos

See Menomena Live:
11/12 @ La Sala Rossa in Montreal, Quebec w/ Illinois
11/13 @ Mod Club in Toronto, Ontario w/ Illinois
11/14 @ Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, MI w/ Illinois
11/15 @ Metro in Chicago, IL w/ Illinois
11/16 @ Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA w/ Illinois
11/17 @ Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, MN w/ Illinois
11/24 @ Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR

Listen:
"The Pelican"

Visit Menomena on MySpace

3 comments:

pod6isblowedup said...

This show rocked my face. I also felt the kick drum was a bit strong in the mix.

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