Sunday, March 27, 2011

Belated Review: Menomena + Others The Whole Music Club 3/4/11 2011

Okay, another delayed review, which does sound like a broken-record. Maybe this blog should be called the belated allmediareviews :p?. But anyway, better late, than never right?

I love the band Menomena. I've gradually found them to be a definitive band of my taste, really since about 2008 or early 2009. I don't recall precisely when it was, but in 2007, I got into them with becoming attached to their debut record I Am the Fun Blame Monster. And then Friend and Foe, after not being as into it initially, began to grow on me after it's release year of 2007.

Then the past couple of years, I've begun to appreciate their all instrumental, 3-song a little less than 1-hour opus, aptly titled Under An Hour. And along with Brent Knopf's new and now current project Ramona Falls and 2010's excellent Mines, these guys pretty much have done no wrong to me.

But Brent left the band not long after I got to see them live with him last September. So Justin Harris and Danny Seim decided, at least for now, to continue as Menomena. Touring and presumably recording in the near future. this article explains a lot about it.

And only having seen them once, I was not going to miss them again when they announced this show at "the University of Minnesota." Which was not The Varsity Theater, where the show last September was. And TVT is located in Dinkytown on/near the University campus.

It was at "The Whole" in the Coffman Student Union, not far from Dinkytown. I had only been to the Coffman Union a few times, once or twice back in the day for a record show, and then in 2007 for Dethklok. But never the actual "The Whole" room, which is 3 floors down from the entrance.

And I can't stress enough how impressed I was with their setup there. There were couches all over, the acoustics were great, and INTIMATE. I kind of felt like, wtf, where have I been, or why I have I never been here before? It was like The Varsity Theater, but maybe better. It was sort of like if Menomena was playing in my living room. How cool is that?

So, getting into the performance and things. I must add a bit about the opening bands. 1 being this new project called The Cloak Ox. Which of course I'd never heard of. It includes Martin Dosh, whose pretty well-known not only in Minnesota, but in the college-rock circles in his sort of instrumental/jazzy/electronic at times group Dosh. Along with Andrew Broder, Mark Erickson and Jeremy Ylvisaker. Broder, I recall plays with Dosh, or another band. Why? and Fog both. I knew his name was familiar. Erickson and Ylvisaker I guess also have been with Broder in both? of those groups.

But more about The Cloak Ox. They are new, but man they impressed the hell out of me! They were going between genres exceptionally well. From Post-Rock, to Power-Pop, to Prog, to blues. I forget all the styles they incorporated, but it was rather jaw-dropping. All I knew is, right after they finished, I wanted to hear more! And in fact, in chatting with them, they have a record they are working on right now, which very well could be released later this year. They also had another gig, just last evening (March 26th) that I would likely have attended at the 7th Street Entry, but my plans to see Judgement Day (and Metropolis) forced my hand into choosing 1 over the other.

But hopefully they'll schedule some more gigs soon, and I'll get to remember why I was so blown away at that show by them again, at least until their 1st studio release is made.

edit: there are a few videos on youtube of "Artist at the Door"

So, I should also not forget the other opener, The Minute Intentions of a Boa Constructor, which their name is a mouthful, (maybe call them TMIOABC?), but their music almost fits their name. It was music that crammed in a lot of ideas in a short amount of time. "art-folk-pop-punk" is what I read on that fb link. I suppose how chaotic or genre-blending they were, might require more time. But I remember thinking, this is a little noisy and chaotic, but the end result seems to work.

I suppose groups like The Dillinger Escape Plan, Kiss Kiss, or 1 group that came to mind even was Graph (who what they're up to, I have no idea, but I should try and check in with them soon). The way music can at times effectively combine genres simultaneously, I've seen it happen. It's not easy of course, but when pulled-off, I am totally into. And I'm hoping this group does that. In fact I may have, or they mentioned hearing their music online was available (on fb), and I need to still. In time, I should. As they say, so much music, so little time, etc, etc.

So, as far as Menomena themselves, I knew going-in, the chances of hearing many if any Brent-songs was low. And, there really weren't any. But the set list was extensive and save for a few hiccups (pun? :p), with 2 of the new touring members. 1 being Paul Alcott who played a lot of the keyboards and guitar parts Brent did, another I think was his 1st gig. I forget. The issues were minor and understandable, but not really forgettable.

I guess trying to recall the set list, I'll do my best.

Queen Black Acid
The Late Great Libido
Strongest Man In The World (maybe the biggest highlight for me, and a Brent song in some ways)
Muscle'n Flo
The Pelican
Five Little Rooms
Rotten Hell

Dirty Cartoons?

most if not the entire set was the same as the set from the show they did in Louisville, KY 1-week later shown here.

No Wet and Rusting of course, nor Rose, Killemall, Sleeping Beauty, The Monkey's Back, etc. Maybe in due time. I do feel bad for anyone whose never seen them, if they don't end up playing a lot of those great, melodic Brent tunes. But it's understandable why they may not. Paul Alcott or whoever else is with them has something to live up to, in playing Brent's parts. Even just vocally.

But I was still more than thrilled to see them again. Their future, I still hope goes on for a long time, as that article I posted above suggests. Justin Harris and Danny Seim are still 2 great songwriters, and I have belief will make a lot more great music as Menomena or doing something else. Lackthere0f for Danny as well.

But Brent's absence was felt still, I can't deny. And feel fortunate, like seeing Mark Zonder with Fates Warning and Neal Morse with Spock's Beard in 2001 (or Johan Langell and Kristoffer Gildenlow with Pain of Salvation in 2001, 2002, and 2004), to see Brent with Menomena, even just the 1 time last September. And I'm looking forward to the future work from Ramona Falls of course.

But this show will certainly be remembered for the opening acts and being at The Whole, as much as for Menomena themself. I just hope I will find my way back to The Whole and see Menomena again someday. Because if I don't (as I've been through that many times. See The Woman's Club Theater, Ritz Theater..As Tall As Lions last year..the list is endless), it certainly was as memorable a concert I've been to in 2011. Why it took me so bloody long to write about it in here? maybe I was testing just *how* memorable it really was. I think the test was pretty successful :p