KPSU Reviews: Menomena at the Doug Fir
Written by Rachelle on May 13, 2011
[b]Menomena at the Doug Fir[/b]
by Ian Uponen
On May 2nd, 2011, at 8 PM I went to a show at the Doug Fir featuring Menomena and opening acts Hosannas and EMA. The atmosphere was enticing, packed with genuine music fans and critics alike, all there to hear the sonic artistry of some of Portlandâ€™s finest musical engineers.
Hosannas took the stage first, and warmed up the crowd with an electrified set filled with computer blips accompanied by synthesized harmonies and soaring lead vocals. The energy in the room intensified as they blasted through their set, equally representing various time feels and musical moods and keeping an inherent Panda Bear-esque backbeat throughout. The crowd was thoroughly pleased.
Next was EMA, whose grunge-influenced set mixed crunchy guitars with psychedelic sounds and tenor female vocals. Much of the music lagged at the same slow tempo, with minimalistic, low-pitched electric guitar and percussion. The lyrics, about topics ranging from romantic endeavors to being a â€œgothâ€ in high school, were sung in a monotone murmur and/or slam-poetic style making the band sound like the Cure if they had Kurt Cobain (sans the upper part of his vocal range) for a singer. Their set list seemed fairly static, with occasional upbeat moments but mostly the same melancholy drone.
Then Menomena took the stage. They exploded into their opening piece, an older number, and the band and crowd immediately and simultaneously began moving. The band was obviously enjoying what they were doing, which is always a plus for me; I like to know the band is enjoying their music as much as I am. They jumped around, danced and smiled widely and frequently throughout the set. After the opener, the singer/bassist slammed into that familiar in-your-face bass line: the intro to â€œTAOS,â€ a fantastic cut off of their new album, Mines. The whole audience sing-screamed along with the opening â€œOh/I bet I know/What you likeâ€ and continued singing along as they blasted into the second verse with machine gun-percussion and crisp guitar wails. The contrastingly soft interlude was simply hypnotic, with beautiful piano triplets and intricately constructed melodies caressing the ears of the audience.
The rest of their set balanced classics from albums as early as their debut and newer cuts, including one Mines trackâ€”â€œOh Pretty Boy, Youâ€™re Such a Big Boyâ€â€”they had only played live once before. This encore addition was fabulously executed, with scalar piano flourishes and Menomenaâ€™s unmistakably percussive bari-sax grunt. The song climaxed with the whole band belting out harmonies together on the songâ€™s final chorus, accompanied by the audienceâ€™s melody. They concluded their encore and their set with the famous stomp-rocker â€œThe Pelican.â€ I was happy to hear this piece, as I had been waiting for it all night; however, I was slightly disappointed by the sound quality at this point. Menomena had sacrificed decent, coherent sound production in order to rock the socks off of the crowd with every Menomena fanâ€™s favorite sing-along. But I was definitely happy with their decision, because it was a hell of a way to end a spectacular set by one of the finest bands out of Portland.