Photos and Words by: Paige Parsons
Tuesday was one of those rare occasions when I made my way to Bottom of the Hill before sunset. I was there to meet up with Veil Veil Vanish for a portrait or two before their opening set. The opportunity also afforded me the fun of watching Serena-Maneesh’s sound check. When you reach for your ear protection that early, you know it’s going to be a wild evening.
I bided my time between sound check and show in my mobile photo editing studio (my laptop in my car) and made my way back to BOTH at 9:15 to catch Veil Veil Vanish. There was a MASSIVE amount of equipment on stage. These locals made the most of the tiny space left open on the stage to delight me with a plethora of tunes off their new CD, Change In The Neon Light. While the stage was crowded, the floor out front was not. Suck a pity, because these Gothy shoegazers put on a damn fine show.
Let’s get the obligatory VVV comparisons out of the way up front. I hate these comparisons, but know they’re useful when introducing a band that may be unfamiliar to readers. Keven Tecon’s vocals definitely remind me of Robert Smith, but much to my delight he’s lacking in Smith’s whimper and instead taps into a powerful roar a la Mark Burgess of The Chameleons. Given that “Serena” is an adaptation of the Norwegian word for “veil,” it couldn’t have been more fitting to have these up and coming San Franciscans for an opener. I swayed and bobbed my head throughout their set and can’t wait to see them again.
By the time Emile Nikolaisen made his was onto the stage â€“ dressed like a cross between Lou Reed and your eccentric old aunt â€“ the crowd has grown considerably, but it was nowhere near sold out. This is a complete surprise to me, and I can only assume it’s because Serena-Maneesh haven’t had an album out in four years. But Tuesday was special for the band; it was record release day for their hauntingly dense and beautiful CD, S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor. The crowd’s modest size felt like we were all in on a little secret that the rest of the world won’t be clued into for a bit. Consider yourself tipped off.
These Norwegians create a tight and blissful swirl of sound conjured from guitars, shakers, laptops and bits of this and that. Itâ€™s seriously out there. As Ireland’s The State said last week, “With a loop of backward guitar samples, and drumbeats that wouldnâ€™t be out of place on a kraut rock record, itâ€™s rare youâ€™ll see a tighter group of musicians than this. The songs scurry into one another, such is the mesh of distortion and muffled vocals that whale though the venue like a mad man escaping from an asylum.” This photographer concurs.
My only complaint of the evening was Serena-Maneesh’s achingly short set length. It clocked in at 40 minutes, and didn’t include an encore.
Veil Veil Vanish