One of the worst/best things about music is that there are far too many bands for any one person to ever hear them all. This sucks of course because there are so many wonderful bands I (you) will never hear, but it kicks ass because it allows some bands to sound like other bands without stepping on each other's toes.
Serene UK is one of those bands. While they will never be accused of trying to sound original, they are most definitely comfortable working within the familiar walls of jangly space rock. So comfortable, in fact, that I would have listed them as my favorite local jangly space rock act back when they were from Seatttle; unfortunately, the only time I had a chance to see them, I had bigger fish to fry. Fortunately, now that they have relocated to New York, they have to contend with high rent, so they still come back to town every once in a while. I was fortunate enough to catch their March 25th performance at the Rendezvous, a small step towards making up for all the years that I neglected them while they lived in my backyard.
Perhaps the most telling detail of Serene UK's performance was the large group of loyal fans who packed the tiny showroom to see their "homecoming" show. Even though they might not make much of a contribution to the musical canon, they are very good at what they do, making them the jangly space rock of choice for a large group of devoted followers (which is saying a whole lot now that they aren't local). Because I was completely unfamiliar with the band's material, I was thankful to be surrounded by a crowd with favorites who could alert me (via enthusiastic applause) to the best songs.
And so I learned (and tended to wholeheartedly agree) that the best songs are the longer ones in which the band spends a lot of time just jamming. Of course I loved those, because meandering instrumentals are in my wheelhouse as the kids say, but they're also the numbers that the band seemed most comfortable performing. Frontman Ryan Beatty obviously prefers his guitar duties to his vocal ones, and both tend to suffer when he has to sing and play simultaneously. During the verses and choruses, the tone of the performance felt a bit stuffy – almost forced. When the singing was done, however, and everyone was free to move about, they immediately fell into a groove, playing physically off each other and noodling with the best of them. It is unlikely that the band will sacrifice vocals (stupid radio-friendliness), but hopefully they remain aware that their forte lies elsewhere.