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Menomena is phenomena-l; the Frames come on like a freight train; and the Thieves steal a little more of my heart


On Friday, April 13, the Record Exchange celebrated their 30th anniversary by bringing two amazing bands to the Egyptian. It was freezing in the theater, but we huddled in our seats, waiting for the Fat Tire beers to warm our cockles. Menomena opened the show, proving great things sometimes do come in small packages. The trio of Justin Harris, Brent Knopf and Danny Seim employ typical rock-band instruments, but include a glockenspiel, saxophone and looping techniques to make enough sound to rival even the loudest high school band. Menomena makes more than just noise. Each track on their new release, Friend and Foe, is like several little songs within a larger song: each one a tiny, beautiful, complicated composition that belies the theory that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I was a bit awestruck seeing and hearing the trio perform songs that I was already in love with, and I wasn't alone in my feelings: A friend said that he had goosebumps watching Menomena. And that wasn't because the air conditioning was on.

After a heartfelt introduction by Record Exchange owner Mike Bunnell, the six members of the Dublin, Ireland-based Frames shuffled on stage. With a dirge-like quality to their sound, it was easy to get lulled into the belief that the night would be made up of sad, slow, sparsely instrumented songs. Wrong. The build-up of some of their songs was literally like standing four or five inches from a railroad crossing, waiting for an oncoming train: There's a soft, faraway sound that builds and builds and builds until it's so big it feels like it's right on top of you.

Unfortunately, we had to leave the Frames show early because we'd promised to catch the Thieves at the Bouquet. It's no secret that I adore those British boys. Brothers Hal and Sam Stokes on lead guitar and bass, respectively, and drummer Jamie Dawson (who, after an extended yet legally required return to his homeland, is back) make up one of the rock-and-rollingest bands to come across the Atlantic. Now based in L.A., their bread and butter (or tea and crumpets) is touring, and they always try to include a Boise stop anytime they're out and about. As this was the fourth or fifth time I've seen them play, I saw many familiar faces and, uh, breasts of the faithful. At every Thieves show I've been to, there is at least one woman who lets the full-bore rock music and Jagermeister convince her to do something that would appall her bank teller or call center co-workers: She flashes the crowd.

I've written it before, and I'll write it again: Sometimes it's good to be me.

--Amy Atkins