Since Water Dissolves Water has apparently morphed into a music blog, I might as well post some pictures of last night's concert. Here's Portland's Tu Fawning on stage as I arrived, albeit slightly late due to some traffic tie-up at Freedom Parkway and Boulevard (I forgot that shows at Variety Playhouse, unlike most other venues, tend to start on time).
According to their label's website (Polyvinyl Records), Tu Fawning is primarily a project of Joe Haege and Corrina Rep. That's Corrina back there to the right on drums, although she later stepped forward and took the mic for vocals for most of the set.
The band also includes Liza Reitz, above left, on keyboards and strings and Toussaint Perrault, below right, on horns and guitar.
Their music is very eclectic and slightly tribal at times - virtually everyone drums or plays some sort of percussion at one point or another (although no one ever picked up a bass - I thing Liza plays most of the bass lines on synth). They played an excellent, well-received set, finishing with a rousing version of The Felt Sense. The crowd even asked for an encore, rare for an opening act, although the band was contractually obligated to only play their allotted 30 minutes.
Brooklyn's Suckers followed. I saw Suckers earlier this year when they opened for Local Natives at The Masquerade, and was impressed. They played an even better set last night, perhaps due to the improved acoustics and sound system at Variety Playhouse than the cavernous Masquerade.
Everyone in Suckers sings and sings well, either contributing to harmonies or sharing the lead. As with Tu Fawning, everyone takes a shot at a little percussion, and their bass player even contributed a little trumpet.
Toussaint Perrault of Tu Fawning came on stage with a trombone during Suckers' set, giving the band a bona fide horn section for a few numbers.
Portland's Memonena (sounds like "phenomena" but with an M) headlined and performed one of the most exciting sets I've heard all year. Like the previous bands, Menomena share vocal duties, although Justin Harris usually fills the front-man role while playing bass and baritone sax.
Menomena's music can be quite surprising, as their songs frequently shift structure as they explore various possibilities of instrumentation, volume, and intensity. Their songs have accurately been described as "having holes" in them, wherein they seem to digress from the song and explore a quiet little piano figure, or a baritone sax riff, or a barreling drum sequence. And since the instrumentation keeps changing on top of the structure, Menomena can claim to be one of the most accessible and interesting experimental music outfits touring today.
The baritone sax is a great touch, giving some of their songs a bluesy, whiskey-soaked sound reminicent of the band Morphine. Throughout the set, Menomena were joined on stage by Tu Fawning's Joe Haege on guitar. Sucker's front man Quinn Walker occasionally contributed some backing vocals, singing into drummer Danny Sein's mic.
Justin Harris remarked how nice it was to play in Atlanta at someplace other than the tiny Drunken Unicorn, and Brent Knopf (keyboards, above) thanked all the fans who've supported Menomena at their previous Atlanta gigs at the Unicorn and the Earl. But despite Variety Playhouse's larger stage, drummer Danny Seim still managed to knock over Justin's baritone sax, and it's mic didn't work during a crucial solo on the closing song. Justin made the best of it, even pantomiming playing his sax at one point.
For your listening pleasure, I put together the little mixtape below, containing songs from last night's performers. So enjoy The Felt Sense by Tu Fawning, Black Sheep and A Mind I Knew by Suckers, and TAOS and Five Little Rooms by Menomena.