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The Dartmouth
May 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Menomena brings the hipster music scene to Fuel

Menomena will rock Fuel this Thursday as the term's highest profile band.
Menomena will rock Fuel this Thursday as the term's highest profile band.

"The music is accessible, but not to the point of triviality -- it will be interesting to students with all degrees of musical interest," Booking Manager Andrew Berry '08 said. Despite his reassurance, some students may hesitate to go, thinking, "Gosh, Fuel is darker than a basement and without the familiar waft of excrement -- how will I ever feel comfortable there?" Others may look at Menomena's indie moniker or "experimental" label and write off the show as one big hipster self-congratulation fest. Dartmouth, don't let fear, intimidation or passive aggressive jealousy of the "scene" dissuade you from seeing the biggest show of the term.

"We've been getting blitzes from people all over the Upper Valley -- from Vermont to Massachusetts to Maine -- inquiring about the show," Carmen Kilpatrick '09, FNR's general manager, said. "There seems to be excitement about Menomena."

The situation sounds similar to the Of Montreal show two years ago, which filled Lone Pine Tavern to capacity with Dartmouth students and New England music buffs, or to last year's scramble for Girl Talk tickets.

Now persuaded to go, Dartmouth ID in hand, how will you make conversation with the skinny-jean clad crowd, especially if you show up in your favorite pair of J. Crew fall 2005 critter pants? Here are a few conversation starters, perhaps more geared to boost your cred than make new friends. Did you know that ...

Menomena is an experimental indie rock group -- remember, add qualifiers until a genre sounds like it can encompass five bands at most -- whose members Justin Harris, Brent Knopf '00 and Danny Seim play multiple instruments and all hail from Portland, Ore.

Menomena is known for using the Digital Looping Record, or DLR (pronounced "Deeler") which was developed by Knopf, doing the alma mater proud. It's a computer program that produces most of the band's work, looping riffs until the song is complete. It sounds like a robotic jam session. Then the band figures out how to reproduce that sound live.

Menomena's third and latest release, "Friend and Foe," got an 8.5 from Pitchfork. If you don't know what Pitchfork is (uber-hipster, holier-musical-taste-than-thou webzine), you might as well give up now and go back to burning Top 40 hits onto blank discs. However, if your would-be friend looks clueless as well, here is your chance to plagiarize. Try this quote on for size: "The band's technique of building songs from improvised loops arranged with custom software yields bigger, more developed compositions and stronger songwriting than on records past."

The album cover for "Friend and Foe" is illustrated by Craig Thompson and has eight possible permutations. After you mention this, sigh and look of into space, muttering about how "Nobody listens to vinyl anymore," and how "Album covers are a dying art." This will show that you don't just listen to the music, you live the whole experience from carefully unwrapping the packaging to listening to the whole album five times from start to finish before you even try to comprehend how deep the lyrics are.

The band's debut album, "I Am the Fun Blame Monster!" is an anagram for "the first Menomena album." Learn to love the ironic gimmick.

Drop band names like your life depends on it. "Yeah, I totally dig how they're like a more experimental version of Monkees, if the Monkees were an '80s New Wave band with Malkmus as a bassist." Or, "That song was so ripping off the bass line of this B-side demo of an early Morrissey release."

Things to not do at the concert? Start singing the "Menomena" muppets song, for one. And leave your lighters at home -- there's no place for that in Leede. This is also not the place to shout "Freebird," whether in irony or in sincerity. You won't be killed, or even beat up, but you will probably get some death stares and pitying head shaking. Keep these things straight and you should be fine. FNR expects great things for this show.

"I have a feeling that Menomena will put on a hell of a show for the home crowd," Berry said. "This is absolutely the biggest show of the term."