Live Review: Menomena and Suckers at Varsity Theatre

I am unsure what is more impressive, Menomena’s amazing albums that are filled with their off kilter, cut and past songs, or their everything plus the kitchen sink while still sounding concise live shows?  The group, who released the solid Mines earlier this year, really caught my attention a few years back with their outstanding album Friend and Foe and the tour that followed the release of that album.  Last Thursday provided another opportunity to see the group (at the same venue as before, unfortunatly with a slightly smaller crowd) and provided an equally great experience.

 

 

For their latest trek, the group has expanded from a three piece to a four piece, adding fellow West Coaster Joe Haege (from the band 31knots) to help them out in the live setting.  It is quite impressive watching the group, who perform the bands patchwork songs live with deft precision, nailing the intricate musical arrangements and meshing vocals from all three main members.  The set relied almost exclusively on material from the bands last two albums, with Friend and Foe material seemingly to get a stronger reaction from the mid sized crowd than the newer material.  As someone who is at a lot of shows, it is cool seeing Menomena and having to constantly look around to see who is doing what.  Unlike a lot of bands, there isn’t one member or focal point in the group, and each person brings a unique performance and style to their songs.  Menomena are one of those bands that I would feel comfortable recommending to any open minded fan of music.  Their albums (they have 3 “albums” and some other odds and ends stuff) are all great, but I would suggest anyone who can to check out this band in the live setting.  Even if you don’t appreciated the music (which you should), you should be able to enjoy the unique spectacle the band provides every time they step on stage.

I missed the first openers, but arrived just in time to catch the solid set by buzz band Suckers, who sound like a more glammy Wolf Parade fronted by a hippy singing with a Antony-esqe falsato.  The bands songs were slinky and anthemic, with the high water mark being their set closer, in the form of their stirring anthem “It Gets Your Body Movin,” which, if replicated 8 or so times, could provide Suckers with an album of the year contender.  Over the bands 40 minute set, they showed more life on the upbeat, bass driven songs, but seemed to lack focus on the tracks without a deep groove.  The group seems to have great potential, but especially after seeing the excellent set by Menomena, Suckers showed a band that is hopefully on the begginging of their progression, not at the peak.

     -Josh

To see a whole photo spread from the show, check out Jon’s pictures HERE.

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