Shamir - Live At The Crocodile: Review
Thu, 17 Dec 2015 11:29:41
(September 30th, Seattle WA) Las Vegas R&B wunderkind Shamir walks up to the mic, dawned in a Debbie Harry tank top and a Velvet Underground jean jacket. Though his music sounds like neither of these artists, the stoic artistry of both is entirely present in his set. It's his first time playing in Seattle and The Crocodile is completely sold out, yet his face doesn't immediately show shock – maybe hints of bewilderment.
Earlier this year Shamir made waves with his full-length debut, Ratchet, which blended low-key synth-pop with boisterous bangers. It embodied the emphatic void left behind by LCD Soundsystem but also feels distinctly its own with suggestions of hip-hop and the best club mix a partier could desire. It's a complicated album, leading to a live set full of swirling and thrilling dynamics. Opening with "Vegas", Shamir stood at the mic and commanded a presence with his countertenor voice. It was a slow open, serving as a sort of prologue to the dance parties that were to come.
Once he started up "On The Regular", the excitement brewing in the crowd reached critical mass. Immediately people started to bounce up around and brew a sweaty musk in the venue. His back-up band translated the record aptly for the room, making the snapping beats snap harder and the ballads hit even higher levels of emotion.
During "Make A Scene", a drunk fan pushed his way to the front of the stage and eventually climbed up. Shamir welcomed him eagerly, encouraging him to dance and strut for the entirety of the song. Smiles abounded from everyone in the crowd, hollering every time the fan would spin or strike a pose. As the song finished, Shamir locked fingers with the fan before the stage crasher reached for the microphone.
"Thank you Seattle for making me feel at home," the fan said, verging on tears. What seemed like simply a fun time was clearly resonating deeper for people. The moment was slightly tarnished, however, when the fan wouldn't let go of Shamir and security had to pull him away. Such is life.
Shamir and his band showcased a willingness to play with perceptions. Most notably was when his female back-up singer would grab a microphone pitched an octave down, giving her a deep voice to hit the impossible lows on songs like "Hot Mess". Shamir, who doesn't identify with a gender (but has approved of male pronouns), was the ultimate contrast to her effects with his higher vocal range. It was a beautiful and fun look at the concept of gender fluidity, putting expectation on their head.
Yet the biggest play on perceptions came at a different point in the night. After performing the synth-heavy dancefloor anthem "Call It Off", Shamir took a moment to look out at the crowd and noted the packed house. Then he wiped away a few tears. Despite his seemingly resigned facial expressions throughout the night, Shamir was feeling just as much of the love as everybody in the room.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff
Buy Shamir music on iTunes