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Menomena 2.0 at Coachella 2011, rocking out in the middle of the day

Menomena make their Coachella premiere.
Menomena make their Coachella premiere.
Diana Diaz

Menomena appeared on the Outdoor Stage at 1:20 pm on Sunday, the Coachella Festival's final and hottest day. But nothing stops Menomena. Temperatures rose to 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but even higher in direct sunlight. Tented performers often get extra people just because of the shade. Those who were there were the dedicated.

Justin Harris and Danny Seim lead Menomena at Coachella 2011
Diana Diaz

But what fans really want to know is if Menomena can still deliver the goods since Brent left the band this last January. Nowadays the band sticks to material which features either Danny or Justin as lead vocalists. They are undeniably great songs and they were pretty tight. New guys Joe Haege and Paul Alcott held their own. They are experienced musicians who have played in other bands for years.

There was no shortage of rocking out and they played their set well focusing on songs from 2007’s Friend and Foe and Mines from 2010. Danny said he was thrilled, “We’re playing on the same stage as PJ Harvey.” They didn’t talk much, but they never really do. They were clearly happy to be playing their first Coachella.

It’s still a bit jarring to not hear Brent Knopf’s voice as a part of the mix. It’s like breaking up with someone and still wanting to call them up. There are subtle differences in the keyboard and guitar parts which were Brent’s. Artists often develop an individualistic way of playing.

Two fans flew all the way out from Brazil just to hear Menomena and “Wet & Rusting” and Evil Bee” were specifically mentioned as missing. They were happy to get a setlist and meet Paul Alcott. Paul mentioned that the band wanted to see the National and tried to get to see Arcade Fire, but weren’t able to make it.

The songs on which Brent Knopf used to sing lead vocals will be the invisible friends of Menomena’s setlist from now on. Those who said Brent was their favorite are disappointed to go without “Evil Bee” or “Wet & Rusting” since they are two of Menomena’s best known tracks.

But, in all, it seems like they will survive this rift and keep much of their fanbase happy and singing along to classics like “Rotten Hell.” Danny and Justin are great songwriters and musicians. Fans are waiting for a new album and hoping it won’t be another three years.

Coachillin': I ran into Paul Alcott in the VIP area hanging with some friends. He said Brent is working on more songs for Ramona Falls and he will still play drums for Ramona Falls. He has been a friend and fan of the band for many years and is the ideal person for this slot. Everything else we talked about is secret. Hoping Danny Seim will send a little Coachella tour blog my way.

Coachella celebrity spottings: Clint Eastwood and Menomena members had their "muthaf**kin' hands in the air" as commanded by Wiz Khalifia later in the afternoon.

Coachella confession: I was in the front row singing along and snapping some great shots. Having Menomena at Coachella was a wish come true, I just never thought it would be without Brent. Enjoy the photos where you can find the all-important setlist written in abbreviations. Do you know the songs?


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