Support for this show were Velofax, an Anglo-Gallic four-piece from the capital who have shot through their fashionable skewed funk with dubby basslines and an English psychedelia on the likes of “Plouf” and “Jack’s Emporium” to interesting effect. Their eponymous debut is out in October.
The crowd for the headline act were a mix of US ex-pats singing along to all the words and interested newcomers. Menomena opened up their first ever show in 2001 with a cover of The Flaming Lips’ “The Abandoned Hospital Ship”, and though far from similar (far less spectacular for one, but then this venue only holds a few hundred), this seems be pretty apt place to start as this low-key show displayed both bands’ shared core of sonic experimentation, a fierce rhythm section and technological savy.
there is a bit of magic at work
The tracks played included most of their recent, well received Friend And Foe LP and tracks from their I Am The Fun Blame Monster (an anagram of “The First Meneomena Album”, incidentally). The songs’ geneses are in extended jams and improvisation and this was displayed in the songs final incarnations; Danny Seim’s thunderous, kinetic drumming the only constant as Brent Knopf and Justin Harris added variants of guitars, keyboards, bass sax and other devices. “The Pelican” was a stamping, sparse prog epic, “Weird” recalled the funk-driven krautrock of Can and “E. Is Stable” and “20 Cell Revolt” showed that they could match the wonky-indie of Sebadoh or Pavement.
As is on record, the live Menomena recalled at times alt-rock contemporaries like the aforementioned Flips (on “Wet & Rusting”), The Besnard Lakes (on “The Pelican”) and Grizzly Bear (on the wonderful “Rotten Hell”), but equally felt set adrift from the usual. Maybe it was the wide variety of instruments played only by the three members, maybe it is the disparate but compelling combination of influences but there is a bit of magic at work.
Despite a few minor technical problems and a (very) few bum notes this was a good introduction to Menomena’s strangely wrought and melodically accessible world for the unfamiliar and affirmation for the converted.