WEB EXCLUSIVE: Menomena brings out the inner nerd in all of us

Beth Rankin

Harris plays the baritone saxophone to a full house at the Beachland Tavern on March 6.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Menomena Concert Review

When: Sunday, March 6

Where: Beachland Tavern

Stater Rating (out of four): *** 1/2

Just when you thought nerds couldn’t get any hotter, in comes … do do do dododo – MENOMENA.

That’s right, this Portland, Oregon, trio got its moniker from an infectious “Muppet Show” ditty. And if that’s not kooky enough, just look at the title of the band’s first album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster!, which is an anagram of “the first Menomena album.”

Clearly, this band is not of the cookie-cutter variety, and that certainly comes through in its music, an awe-inspiring blend of sweeping piano melodies, driving drum beats and mellow electronic loops. In fact, lead vocalist Brent Knopf created a computer program, which he dubbed “Deeler,” that allows the band to compose short loops and chains of melody to use in its songs.

It doesn’t get much dorkier than that.

When Menomena brought its symbiotic sounds to Cleveland’s Beachland Tavern last weekend, however, no one was giving any of these nerds wedgies or wet willies.

Each band member played double duty at least once, with bassist/guitarist Justin Harris singing and controlling the computer-generated melody loops, and drummer Danny Seim delivering both the driving pulse and the occasional vocal harmony.

Harris also set aside his guitar periodically to jam on alto and baritone saxophones, while Knopf seamlessly transitioned from keyboard to guitar to xylophone, sometimes during the same song.

The band’s instrumentation alone was enough to keep the mass of indie rockers in attendance bobbing their heads the whole time.

The trio opened with “Rose,” a sonorous ballad filled with emotional piano and pulsating drum beats, and Menomena kept the audience captivated until the very end.

From Knopf’s haunting, trembling vocals to Harris’s saxophone loops to Seim’s energetic drum beats, these three nerds earned themselves an A for effort and originality.

Contact assistant Webmaster Beth Rankin at [email protected].