“Hey! Sweden!” – “They’re Norwegian, Mac.”

Remember that movie John Carpenter’s The Thing? I used those quotes from it for my headline because it’s my favorite exchange in that movie and writing a review of the Norwegian band Serena-Maneesh has given me an excuse to.

A comparison to The Thing is fitting in regards to Serena-Maneesh in another way too though. In The Thing the alien was an ever-expanding, all-encompassing creature that wrapped up and absorbed any organisim it could get its tentacles on. You could say that the experience of seeing Serena-Maneesh live is exactly like that.

Their music envelopes you, crushes you, devours your soul. The main difference between being eaten by The Thing and seeing a Serena-Maneesh show is that while the first experience is awful, the second is nothing but pure bliss.

I have these old My Bloody Valentine bootlegs that might just be my favorite music posession of all time. There are about six of them and when I listen to them I think to myself, “this is how a live show is supposed to be!” On these bootlegs MBV destroy all preconception of what a live show should be. They destroy the audience with a wall of beautiful and powerful sound, they hammer so hard and long on their instruments that they go in and out of tune within the course of a song, and each song is EPIC. In short they shred like no one ever has before.

For years I’ve worshipped my MBV bootlegs and they left me with an impression of what the ‘classic’ heydey of live shoegazer was like that I never thought I would experience for myself.

That is until last night at the State Theater when I caught Serena-Maneesh (from Norway not Sweden).

Their show last night was one of the best sets of music I have ever experienced. Somehow these frail looking guys from Norway have recreated the MBV live feeling better than any other shoegazer band I have seen (and I’ve seen a bunch). But Serena-Maneesh went one better on me by playing an amazing set, that captured the spirit of my sacred MBV bootlegs, and still managed to be entirely original and true to their own identity as a band. An identity that I can see only getting bigger and better as word about their live performances spreads.

Sadly there were only about 40 (yes 40!) people there to enjoy the mind-blowing show last night. But if each one of us tells 10 people about Serena-Maneesh then maybe the next time the band flies all the way over from f-ing Norway there might be a few more of us in the crowd.

Last night was the best shoegazer show to come through DC that I have attended, probably ever. Serena-Maneesh sounded great in the State Theater’s giant, high-ceilinged room and they played for the few of us who cared enough to show up like they were playing Madison Square Garden. It was fucking awesome and I feel privileged to have been there. I can only hope they come back through the area so more folks can get a taste.

1 Comment so far

  1. chris (unregistered) on October 5th, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

    It must have been a little disheartening to fly all the way over here and play in front of such a small crowd, but the energy and sound they gave us seemed like it was all-out for them, I really appreciate that. Hopefully, as their little tour moves around, they’ll actually hit cities with a few more fans than the crap amount that turned out last night. Maybe in 15 years, after they’ve broken up, people will be referring to the legendary shows that these guys put on, and the few that managed to make it out to this show will be able to say they witnessed it in person.

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