Gearing up for another year of St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Shamir, the very recently turned 21 year old from Las Vegas, dropped by Howler Bar to funky da whole damn place up. With support from Melbourne’s refreshingly cool and equally musically talented Total Giovanni, who also filled the air with intermission DJ sets to keep the spirits high, it was night that, with thanks to Mushroom Promotions, had TWL dancing to a slightly different beat.
Shamir is one gifted young artists who creates music that is earnest in its creation but self-assured in its sound, music that comes from the heart but is felt down to the toes. Tonight would be a night that TWL attend not only to be grooved, but to be moved by a self-described genderqueer creative that has something to say, beyond the party feel of his music. There simply is not enough diversty celebrated in our city, so “here here” to artists such as Shamir who choose not to conform.
The breadth of Melbourne’s music scene is rife, and there is every sign that whatever the genre, style or tone, there is something for all musical ears, you just have to dig a little deeper or simply take a punt. With TWL’s recent attendance at Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain Festival, where the main stage was full of outstanding live local artists, including Total Giovanni, these guys officially got the festival vibe going, with their Ibiza vibe and their stage energy. Sometimes bands dont need stand out tracks, it is bands like TG who are more about an experience, a feeling of bringing people together in a frenzy of proper cool dance moves. Tonight, although, we were not there in body to throw a few more shapes, from the vibe that we felt entering the space, it was clear they weaved their magic once again.
If you google Shamir Images, you will be greeted by a selection of endearing happy snaps of a young man with character, individuality and a love for colour and the quirky. Tonight, set against a simple backdrop and stage lights that were reprogrammed to focus on the audience (cleverly creating a club feel), the band took to the stage with smiles all round, taking position to bass, drums, keys and backing vocals/percussion. Quick to follow was Shamir, dressed in the complete opposite to what we expected, with muted colours and nicely shaved locks, tonight he was “Shamir hear me raw”. It’s funny you know, that when all you have are images to reference a performer who you havent seen in the flesh, when they look different you have to take a moment to realign your ideas. Musically, Shamir is great and we hope, would not be upset about drawing comparisons from Prince, TV on the Radio and Outkast. His lyrics are cleverly crafted and tonight in passing comment, claims them as his “autobiography”.
The hit single Vegas, is the first to get the crowds real reaction, with its infectious opening beat and lyrics that give a clear poke in the side to the weird and wonderful world of his home town. “Vegas, Vegas, Vegas, The sin is alright, at least at night”….followed by “You can come to the city of sin and get away without bail”.
But if you’re living in the city oh you already in hell”. Great lyrics from a young man seeing Las Vegas for what it really is but loving his city for it.
As the night plays on the audience move, they shake, they stomp about and then something happens in-between songs. A small applaud builds to a rapturous applause, a collective hand clap of love and respect. It is hard to describe but Shamir and his band feel it and appear overwhelmed. Shamir’s vocal partner, please forgive us for I forget your name, adds a nice layer of depth to Shamir’s voice, her “funked up” rap style is transmitted through some computer effect that makes it sound like James Brown, it’s pretty funny and keeps many of older ones entertained.
Beyond Shamir’s obvious talent to create some very cool dance floor fillers (Call It Off, On the Regular, Make A Scene) there is also a vulnerable and deeper side to his song writing that he shares with us tonight, and these tracks, that to some may have been just fillers make the night feel that little bit more special. It’s just a shame that we had two punters next to us spending some of these quieter songs trying to work out how to turn the camera lights off but in the process lighting up the back of the heads of those in front of them, to their annoyance. Sort yourselves out!!!
Head In The Clouds will be his final track tonight, a cracking house music inspired beat that gets the crazy kids down the front getting completely loose, so much so that Shamir jumps into the crowd to get amongst the party vibe. With an almost sudden end, the music ends Shamir is somewhere in the crowd, the band walk off and the lights come up. A quirky unexpected end to a night with no expectations or bad thoughts. Thanks Shamir, good luck with your tour.