music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Menomena live in Los Angeles at the El Rey Theatre on September 16, 2010, reviewed for Venus Zine:
Menomena rouse late-night revelers in Los Angeles
September 16, 2010, at the El Rey Theatre
By Lily Moayeri
Published: September 21st, 2010 | 11:30am
Los Angeles is not an all-night-long kind of city—especially since the rest of the world has already had their day by the time we wake up, leaving us no option but to rise early to catch up to them. So, an 11:00 p.m. set time on a Thursday night is late for our city. This was when Menomena—the headliners on a triple bill including Tu Fawning and Suckers—was scheduled to hit the stage at the El Rey Theatre. The crowd of dedicated, long-term fans didn’t seem to mind the wait, though, as they knew their commitment would be rewarded. And was it ever.
The Portland, Oregon trio expanded to four people on stage, and eschewed the traditional arrangement by opting to instead perform lined up at the front, giving the impression of equal credit for all members. This was further solidified by the fact that they all band mates shared vocal duties—and the spotlight.
Menomena kicked off strongly with “Tithe” from their latest album, (Barsuk). The surge of energy from the stage rejuvenated the audience immediately as they swayed uncontrollably towards the force of the performance. Menomena frontloaded their set with other standout numbers from Mines including “Queen Black Acid,” with a bottom-heavy sound that put the rhythm section front-and-center, which created an unshakeable foundation for the performance.
This heaviness started to pull down halfway through as the set dragged with proggy tracks such as “BOTE” and “Five Little Rooms.” These new numbers are hard to take under normal circumstances, but when compounded by a self-involved performance, they can become downright claustrophobic. Still, the crowd went with the mood, which lightened a little with the spirited rendition of “TAOS.”
As is the case with most groups of Menomena’s ilk, the band’s physical appearance was that of a last-minute rehearsal: wrinkled T-shirts, washed-out, non-descript colors, and rushed showers. But the band was so caught up in what it was doing, their image illuminated a perfection to their craft as the quartet became quite lost in its performance and took the crowd along for the journey.
The random rambling “banter” in between songs didn’t do much to add to the experience, but luckily Menomena got back to their instruments quickly enough. Ending with a honking saxophone, which spurred a clap-along from the audience, the crowd left knowing the pain they were going to be feeling at work the next day was totally worth it.