March 23, 2006

SXSW Report #11: Serena Maneesh @ Emo's Outside Stage

After the Young Knives’ set, I trekked back to the outside stage of Emo’s to catch Norwegian shoegaze sensations Serena Maneesh. The venue was packed like sardines; although I managed to get a spot close to the front, my view was obscured by the swarm of photographers standing in front of me. I had to do a Stretch Armstrong imitation and reach over them to take decent pictures of my own.

I think that Maneesh’s set this evening was as close as I’ll ever come to having that same feeling that people in the mid-‘80s did when they first saw the Jesus and Mary Chain live. They sounded like a train wreck, but in the best possible way. The vocals were barely audible, chord progressions struggled to rise above the morass of distortion and feedback, and songs slowly devolved into guitar-strangling tantrums. “Selina’s Melodie Fountain” was played way faster than on the record, whereas “Un-Deux” was played way slower. The thing that stuck out the most about Serena Maneesh, though, was that they were one of only TWO bands I saw at SXSW that had a female bassist who looked like she was enjoying herself. An absurdly tall Nico clone, she unceasingly bopped around the stage without flubbing a single note on her instrument. People kept their eyes on her, even when the guitarists were slamming their instruments into the ground and against poles.

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