Menomena, Talkdemonic and the Kingdom

I should start by admitting that while I was looking forward to seeing every band on this bill, I missed the Kingdom’s set and therefore have nothing to say about their performance.

I did try to get there early, but by the time I’d ridden my bike through the rain, waited in the infamous Doug Fir line and made my way downstairs, Talkdemonic was starting their first song, so I’ll start there.

It’s nice when a drummer takes the foreground of the stage and even nicer when they take that position in the music itself. This is especially true in the case of Talkdemonic’s Kevin O’Connor, whose versatility and precision behind the kit place him amongst the upper ranks of Portland’s finest. Of course it was easy to take note of this during his performance since the only other musical accompaniment was a laptop, an occasional keyboard vamp and the wonderfully placed notes of the violinist.

Projected on the wall behind her were fascinating scenes of slow-motion waterfalls, city streets and flowing fields shot from car windows, grainy black-and-white imagery and various landscapes that sometimes separated into neatly formed squares and other times merged into indecipherable collages.

This visual display added nicely to the music and complemented the dynamics the musicians created, whether intentional or not. This show celebrated the release of Talkdemonic’s album Mutinysunshine on blue vinyl, which is, of course, special for any musician. Buy it online at or at any Jackpot! record store.

I hadn’t seen Menomena since before their national tour a few months back and was happy that they’d found time since then to write some new material. The first song was new to me and had all the qualities of a good Menomena song. There was the tight rhythm, sweet harmonies and the quick changes that make it all so interesting.

A technical glitch later during a song kept a slide guitar’s melody from repeating itself, but the situation was remedied by drummer Danny Seim’s quick thinking and capable humming skills – something the audience comically mimicked. The bass that night was monstrous and sent strong vibrations through the beer bottle in my hand and, at points, shockwaves through the rest of my body. That’s what I get for standing directly in front of the cabinet though.

At the beginnings and endings of certain songs, the audience’s enthusiastic applause surprised me. I’ve seen some wonderful local bands play to such cool audiences and I suppose I was a little shocked by the unanimous approval of the expansive crowd. Although the night ended without an encore, I actually felt like they deserved one, and I usually really hate encores. The members of Menomena still have day jobs and assemble the elaborate flip-book CD packaging themselves, but clearly they are on the road to success. If not private jets, then at least tour busses with built-in Atari await them. For once, it seems that Portland wants this as well.

Be on the look out for the upcoming release of Bridgetown Breaks, featuring the beastly beats of both drummers mentioned above, as well as Charles Neal of Quivah and Josh Skins of Systemwide, produced by Pluto and Main Sequence, available this spring.