Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Show Review: Serena Maneesh, The Depreciation Guild, Shark @ Daniel Street

April 5, 2010

I was late. Heirloom tomatoes, scallops and strip steak kept me from the beginning of Shark's set. Walk into Daniel Street and what hits you first is a galloping bass line that resonates the tails of your lungs while the guitar line cuts through the underbrush creating a sonic monolith. It's a happy thing. Immediately I was chastising myself for my lack of planning because Shark brought their A game. Having seen John and Apse at The Space years ago, my curiosity was piqued to see Josh Bleeks and The Mordecai brothers. Rising above the fact that the crowd consisted of die-hard opener connoisseurs, Shark projected the unadulterated feeling that they were in it to win it. It was obvious they were elated to be at Daniel Street. Through the vintage synths and pealing Gibson a mist of a vocal that lacked conviction could be heard. This was the only time I was left wanting (save the desire for more volume on the ride). When I suggested perhaps Shark would benefit from a five or six string bass, my concert-mate said "Are you kidding?? That was low. And they BROUGHT it!" True enough. No misguided changes from this kid. Shark brought it in spades.

The crowd was immediately grabbed and sucked to the middle of the floor after changeover like little bits of flotsam toward a drain as The Depreciation Guild began.
They stayed in the eddy of sunshine guitars and the crisp triplets that poured from TDG's drummer like droplets off the shaken branch of a spring drenched dogwood.(Somewhere between Shark and TDG the high-hat found it's mic.) Indeed, The Depreciation Guild washes over you with their specially flavored wall of sound that has a New Wave sensibility that is hard to ignore. Songs blended together and just as I thought the Britonesque river was to flow forever, the color of the entire room changed and the trio closed out with another infectious magnet of an epilogue. Perhaps it is my fondness for a living, breathing bassist that caused my attention to wander in the middle of the set. But it did not take away significantly from the masterful experimental pop that put it's hooks in the entire crowd.

Now, maelstrom is from malen (to grind) + strom (stream) in the archaic Dutch. Not Norwegian, but it might as well be. The maelstrom that is Serena Maneesh exhibits a harsh haunting with decibels to spare. The rumble combined with sheer density of sound made me long for an underground bunker style club with bodies shoulder to shoulder absorbing the compression and leaning into the rarefaction.

Daniel Street and their sound crew rose to the occasion though. This pop kid could have used more definition on the vocals. Where they sat in the mix worked well in the sea that was Serena Maneesh. However, cut in the EQ always allows the vocals to be what they are in any genre, another instrument, not an afterthought.

Serena Maneesh is a relative household name in Norway. The new album debuted at 11 on the Norway charts. Something in the stance of front-man Emil Nikolaisen and his female bassist made me feel that the intimate crowd was unsettling to them.However, even if a judgement flitted across the members faces, it did not deter the Korgtastic frenzy, the bite of the snare, or the sincerity of a Rickenbacker bass. The five-some finished the night with all stops fully out. Emil himself was on 11 as he flailed and failed (luckily) to overturn his cab. Oh here, have some feedback. Goodnight!

Anyone with a heart for low hertz, density in their music, a time when Britain's sound reemerged, and grit, would be right at home standing in front of the business end of Serena Maneesh. I was warmed by the local-boys-made-good in Shark and the intrigue brought by The Deprecation Guild's poppier numbers. Manic win.

-Rich Pellegrino

Photos by Sean O'Brien
Click Sean for more photos of Serena Maneesh, The Depreciation Guild, and Shark

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