All Smiles, Grand Archives and Menomena – Live in Seattle

Seattle, WA – A Long, Long Time Ago @ Neumo’s (June 1st)

Unfortunately we were really late for All Smiles due to shows starting early and on time these days in Seattle. Also, I felt trapped at the dive bar across the street listing to some mangled-looking, old-man-river guy talk to me about the history of plumbing. He started the timeline over 2800 years ago when King Minos of Crete created the first flushing water closet complete with a wooden seat and everything. I was like, fuck, how are we gonna cover 2800 years of plumbing in ten minutes? But not wanting to be rude and perhaps needing a “safety” piece of ass sometime in the future, we powered though it.

I should also mention that the All Smiles photos did not turn out very well because my photographer for this segment of the show (Stumblin’ Mary) had already downed too many 24 ounce Red Stripes. Somehow, Stumblin’ Mary took a photo shoot of herself that turned out more immaculate than the photos of Jim and the band as you can see below:


Stumblin’ Mary with a Red Stripe she somehow smuggled outside the bar

Anyway, All Smiles were mid-song when we entered the club. The band has a fuller and more dynamic live sound than on the recently released album, Ten Readings of a Warning. Also, I loved hearing Jim talk, “So we heard some pretty fucking shitty songs in the van on the way here.” And then he talked for a while about how too many songs are called “Bro”. (I can’t think of too many off hand…maybe “Thanks Bro” by Filter? What am I missing?) Jim introduced the next song, “This last song is called Bro.” Then it was over. Sorry Jim, I wish I could have seen more of your set. And sorry about the photo shoot shaft and maybe you guys should get an ipod adapter in the van.

Grand Archives were next. By this time the club was fucking packed, hot, and sweaty. On the bright side, I guess when you sweat out an entire 24 ounce Red Stripe, it’ll save you a few trips to the can. Grand Archives reminded me of a lumberjacky version of The Village Peeps meet The Beach Boys (in a good way). This is mainly because most of them were bearded young men wearing plaid shirts with 4 of the 5 band members harmonizing impeccably.

Grand Archives

During the next set change, my bf said (in reference to Menomena’s Justin Harris), “He’s sort of heartthroby.” Despite the sweaty masses swarming as close to the stage as possible, I didn’t know what to expect from Menomena live. We’ve all seen their innocuous-looking tub pictures (taken by Alicia J. Rose).  I thought maybe they’d be wacky and goofy.

It’s not like this

Well, it’s not like that. These guys are really serious when it comes to onstage demeanor, not to mention they are all really amazing musicians. Danny Seim on percussion (including glockenspiel) and vocals. Brent Knopf rotates between vocals, keyboards (as if he’s classically trained), and guitar (sometimes simultaneous keyboard and guitar). Justin Harris sings and also plays bass, guitar, baritone sax and alto sax. My eyeballs were playing a visual tug-of-war trying to decide who to watch onstage.


People loved yelling “MENOMENA” between songs. Justin Harris scanned the audience and asked, “What’s with the giant bottles of Red Stripe in this place? And that guy has two!”

kind of heartthrobby

It’s hard to describe Menomena’s intensity. Think about the exciting, huge, freak-out sound of the Arcade Fire. But Menomena can accomplish this sound with only three people.  (Obviously it’s a different kind of rock music, but I’ve never seen anyone rock harder with just a saxophone and keyboard.)  And the Red-Stripe-swilling audience totally reciprocated the energy unlike any show I’ve ever been to.   Menomena are currently on tour and I would strongly advise that you check out upcoming dates HERE.

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2 thoughts on “All Smiles, Grand Archives and Menomena – Live in Seattle

  1. Dammit! I knew I should have gone to this show. Another case of too many plans for one night. Give me a “Super Rad” heads up next time!

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