Last Thursday night, my prayers were answered when DC9 was visited for the second time in 2010 by Norway’s best entry in the shoegaze genre, Serena-Maneesh. For my money, S-M are hands-down the best band of the nu-gaze movement (shoegaze revival); yet they retain a relative unknown status here in DC. Their set on Thursday night was full of sonic beauty and brutal guitar noise, making the perfect case for why I hold them in such high regard amongst their peers.
Along for the ride was the “opening” act Woven Hand, who are quickly establishing themselves as legendary performers; particularly after a successful stint opening for Tool on the west coast. Woven Hand drew a larger crowd than our Norwegian visitors on Thursday night. I am not entirely surprised by that, but I am a little disappointed that so few people stuck around to sample S-M’s incredible live show.
Both bands put on fiery sets. Woven Hand’s featured thunder-clap, dark Americana fronted by David Eugene Edwards intense, often-disturbing vocal performance. Serena-Maneesh’s focused on textured sonics over vocals as they performed noisy, nightmare versions of their current set list. Visual highlights of the night: watching a sweat-drenched David Edwards’ sitting in his chair, singing into an effects microphone, jabbing his face or hiding his eyes behind his fingers; S-M frontman Emil Nikolaisen bent intently over his guitar, his shawl wrapped completely around his head and shoulders, a big Native American face on his shirt-back staring at us as we come down from S-M’s noise freak-out finale (which featured David Edward’s being head-lock-pulled out of the audience to guest on guitar). It was an evening full of aural visceral thrills that perhaps these photos can better express than words will.*
* I rarely let the photos alone tell the tale – but it just feels right with this one.