All in all, a very good show

As excited as I was for last night's Menomena show at Sin-e, I was also a little worried that they would struggle to pull off the songs live. I Am The Fun Blame Monster is a *great* album but the songs are almost impossibly tight on account of the band's looping software (written on their own). It makes for a very unique sound, but also one that could be tough to replicate on stage. They played everything straight with no samples and nothing prerecorded though - an impressive feat and solid show. Not as good as the album, but I expected as much.

I was surprised by how diverse their sound was live. Bassist Justin Harris also plays guitar and tenor and alto sax (!), with a ton of pedals at his disposal, and keyboardist Brent Knopf also plays guitar and a mean glockenspiel (seriously) - both switched instruments frequently during songs. And drummer Danny Seim plays barefoot with a ton of energy. He toned the beats down slightly live but he still does it all. Pretty cool. They all sing vocals too, though Justin and Brent mostly handled lead.

They opened up with Fun Blame Monster's "Strongest Man in the World" and played the entire album during their set except for "Oahu" (my favorite song), which got replaced by possibly a new tune. "E. is Stable" was an early highlight, when Justin sampled himself playing two separate guitar lines in an extended intro and then switched to bass for the song. The second half of the show was when they clicked though, starting with an awesome version of "The Late Great Libido." "Trigga Hiccups" and "The Monkey's Back" worked especially well live. They have a good sense of humor, teasing with Interpol's "Obstacle 1" and "PDA" near the end. (Apparently their tour itinerary is pretty similar to Interpol's.) They also soundchecked the keyboard by playing along to Sonic Youth's "Sugar Kane" - respect.

All in all, a very good show. They pulled off the sounds of the album well, but also made me realize how well-produced Fun Blame Monster is. The band could be a little tighter, but the record sets the bar very high. And it seemed like most of the crowd was like me - big fans of the album, psyched to finally see the songs in action, and happy with the results.

Here's what I've listened to so far from my harvest:

The WFMU Record Fair has traditionally been a Sunday afternoon activity for me, but I made my way to the Metropolitan Pavilion on Saturday this time to see if the selection is any better. It didn't make much of a difference, meaning I did just as well as usual - just under 20 CD's, only 4 of which cost me over $3. I like to focus on the bargain bins, figuring I can find stuff for $5-10 elsewhere. What makes the WFMU fair unique is the huge volumes of cheap stuff, with tons of gems to be found. You sometimes need to hold off on the temptation to get something purely because you recognize it, but the rockbottom prices are what make the risks worthwhile.

Metalheadz - Platinum Breakz. This is a seminal drum n' bass collection from 1996 that I've wanted for ages. I'd never heard the whole thing, and after one listen I'm really impressed with it - pretty chill and jazzy with surprisingly creative beats and programming. I think a big part of why drum n' bass is well past its prime (see: the new Roni Size) is that it has become far too formulaic with the beats and songwriting. So it's almost startling to hear how fresh the singles that started the dn'b boom still sound today.

Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush. They're a 10-piece jazz band from Norway that I'd heard only good things about, and the early returns are promising. One of the 10 clearly knows his way around a drum machine. Tortoise needs to listen to these guys before putting out another record.

The Butterflies of Love - The New Patient. This Connecticut band was way bigger in the UK than in the US, in fact I think John Peel was quite a fan. Anyway, I remember them fondly from my New Haven days. They always had great analog synths.

A Pavement bootleg from the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain tour. The setlist focuses on CR,CR and yet-to-be-released Wowee Zowee tunes, and it's pretty awesome. My two live Pavement experiences were great, especially the second time at the Matador 10th Anniversary shows, but both came after Terror Twilight. I would have killed to trade in "Cream of Gold" and "Billie" on the setlists for any of the tunes from this show, especially the versions of "Silence Kit" and "5-4=Unity" early on.

The Verve - A Storm in Heaven. The Verve's first full-length, much more ethereal and atmospheric than the later stuff. So far, I like.

Spokane - The Proud Graduates. Slowcore soundscapes, like Low but a bit less vocal and more ambient.

And I still have a bunch more waiting for me - Luke Slater, Absinthe Blind, Death in Vegas, a Stereolab/Add N to (X) collaboration, Eve's Plum, Grooverider, and more. It's a bit overwhelming.

Complicating it all is the fact that I also got the new DFA Compilation #2. I've only made it through disc 1 and it's already worth what I paid. I'm psyched to finally have the excellent J.O.Y. and Pixeltan singles on CD, and the Black Leotard Front single "Casual Friday" that opens the compilation is simply epic. Highly recommended.