Show Review: Tu Fawning, Suckers, Menomena at Great American Music Hall

by Kara Murphy on September 20, 2010

Working the alto sax.

What an inopportune time to have a camera battery die on you. I don’t mean run out of juice, as I’ve already learned that lesson in the past, but actually up and die as in refuse to work. As a result, I didn’t get the opportunity to shoot Tu Fawning, the up-and-coming Portland-based quartet that opened for Suckers and Menomena on Tuesday, September 14th at Great American Music Hall.

I did, however, get to witness a band that has a lot of potential (Joe Haege also moonlights as the honorary fourth member of Menomena and joined the trio onstage later in the evening to assist with keyboard and guitar duties). The multi-instrumentalists played a tight set however it seemed like most of the audience stood in stoic unison, occasionally bopping their heads to the more poignant moments that surfaced in their hits songs “The Felt Sense” and “Out Like Bats.” Definitely a band to watch as they have the ability to evolve into a truly great outfit.

Tu Fawning's Joe Haege did double duty...

Of course, the highlight of the evening was Menomena and they really put on an excellent show. Even more impressive was the ability of all the members to rotate between instruments ranging from bass, alto sax, Moog synth – just to name a few.

Kicking off the set with “Tithe” from their latest album, they immediately engaged and enthralled the crowd. After performing the transcendent single “TAOS,” Justin Harris, who stood front and center despite sharing lead singer duties with the other members, took a moment to thank the opening acts and then asked if anyone planned to go on the Alcatraz swim? He then launched into an anecdote about a female friend getting attracting sludge to the peach fuzz on her face whenever she participated.

Of course, the band had nothing but love for San Francisco as Harris also mentioned that it is the very first city they played on their first tour. He thanked locally-based booking agent, Lisa, and also lamented on the overpowering aroma of garlic wafting from the audience – a clear indication that a lot of people in attendance were enjoying Great American Music Hall’s infamous garlic fries.

By the fifth song in, “Killemall,” the band really hit their full stride and the audience chanted some of their best lyrics including “Always could be someday,” “won’t you feel it,” and, towards the end, “I’d like to go home” (even though the opposite was true) and stomped/clapped in anticipation for the two-song encore.

Menomena is truly a talented and unique outfit with an unorthodox method of creating (most of this process occurs through e-mail and ideas are built upon) and performing their music. If you haven’t seen them live yet, you should definitely make it a top priority to do so.

To view the set of full-size photos, check out my Flickr.

Menomena setlist:
Tithe
Taos
Weird
Killemall
Muscle’n Flo
Five Little Rooms
Bote
Queen Black Acid
Wet and Rusting
Dirty Cartoons
The Pelican
Sleeping Beauty
Evil Bee

Encore:
Intil
Strongest Man in the World

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