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By the skin of their teeth: Serena Maneesh at the Middle East

It was 11:30 and our favorite Norwegian psych-garage-shoegaze maniacs, Serena Maneesh, were, according to the published set times, supposed to be onstage at the Middle East upstairs. But there was no sign of them, and frontman Emil Nikolaisen (who looks like a white Hendrix with his puffy shirts and headscarves) and his bass playing sister Hilma (a cross between Nico and Shawn Bradley) are hard to miss. At about 11:45 we got word from the doorman (this being the MidEast, the doorman was Dave Cave of Lot Six, Beat Awfuls, and Viva Viva) that Serena weren’t coming. Bummer. Last time they came to town, it was a near-religious experience. Someone suggested that maybe they were pissed about the show being moved at the last minute from M.E. downstairs to M.E. upstairs due to poor ticket sales. We decided to stick around for another beer, just in case. Lo and behold, about 10 minutes later, an enormous tour bus rumbles up Brookline Street and out hop a bunch of frantic Europeans, charging into the club with armfuls of equipment. They set up their gear as fast as you can set up a six-piece band that includes an electric piano, a violin, and two guitar players who each have enough effects-gizmodgery to launch NASA’s Space Shuttle, then hurled themselves headlong into an utterly frenzied set that was fraught with sound problems but somehow dramatically triumphant.

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