One of the more endearing parts of rock n’ roll, for me, has always been back-to-back shows. The possibilities somehow open up when a band plays the same city two nights in a row: each night’s energy tends to be completely different, as every variable- the set list, the crowd, the band’s energy and on and on–tends to be wildly different. It’s among these multi-night sets where you tend to catch a rare set list, full of old hits, random b-sides and covers. You get THAT night, the night that the band themselves will refer back to in 20 years. It’s among these nights where bands realize they can showcase their entire catalog instead of solely pimping the new digs and the result is obvious: you tend to enjoy the show more if you’re not so worried about missing something. One night can hold a packed house; the other might present an intimate affair. While one night might hold laughs, the other will surely feature game faces intent on a night of face melting. A time honored-tradition back-to-backs are and it always seems like the results are the same…celebration ensues.
As you can tell from my giddy pen, Menomena’s recent stay at the Great American Music Hall on September 14th and 15th was no different. They, and their openers- Suckers and Tu Fawning- just killed it…both nights. Led by the nose of their newest release – Mines – Menomena came out swinging to full effect, eliciting a barrage of involuntary WOOOOs and open jaws from those who dote the most (since I’d seen them before, I got to take at least a couple songs to just watch the reactions on people’s faces, which is eerily close to the same looks people get when they watch The Arcade Fire). To describe Menomena live would be like trying to describe who they sound like or what genre they fit in: utterly useless. I’d be naïve to try and convey the pure talent on stage and their use of it; nor is it worthwhile to even consider how they pull all their sounds with only four touring members. The performance and timing of the group is nearly impeccable and that’s without even considering the fact that they juggle duties (singing mostly) evenly among the group. No matter who is on the mic or whether they’re leaning on the drums (Danny Seim has got be one of the top 10 players in the world), piano, guitar or sax the result are always the same: after each song I end up celebrating with those beside me. You’ve just got to pony up the 16 bucks it costs to see their live show. I’m a fan, so yes I am biased. But if you heard “Queen Black Acid”, “TAOS” and “Sleeping Beauty” –among 14 others- live then you too would be a bit starry-eyed.
Also, the Suckers deserve a major shout-out. I have to admit: I’d seen them a couple of times before, was impressed, but then quickly assumed that I would be over them once I listened to the album a few times. Wrong and I apologize. On Tuesday night they were better than when I saw them last and on Wednesday they were better than both previous nights combined. They can sing, ramble, they’ve got good licks, the drum player is legit to boot and their songs are catchy as hell. It’s as if they were playing a 15,000 seat venue, which is something you can’t say about a lot of openers. I know they’re already on the radar (Pitchfork premiered their new video last week), but I have a feeling the Brooklyn four-piece is worth looking after.
-By Patrick Kelly
Suckers: “Black Sheep”