Vancouver Special: Shannon Shaw at the Fox Cabaret

Shannon Shaw, vocalist and bassist for Shannon and the Clams, embarked on a tour supporting her debut solo record, Shannon in Nashville, this May.

As discussed in my review of Vundabar’s Vancouver show in February, the Fox Cabaret is a historic porn-theater-turned-music-venue in the city’s hip Mount Pleasant neighborhood. On May 9th, the Fox played host to Shannon Shaw and her band – Jose Boyer, Mark Cisneros, Garett Goddard, and Andrea Scanniello – for the first headlining show of their May tour. Shaw, frontwoman and founding member of Oakland’s ’60s-inspired garage rock outfit Shannon and the Clams, was north of the border to promote her solo record, Shannon in Nashville, released last June. 

I arrived at the Fox just after 10:00, and Shannon and the band took the stage right on schedule around 10:30. Visually, they looked every bit as glamorous as I’d expected, given what I know about Shannon and the Clams’ stage presence.

I imagine jeans and t-shirts are comfortable to play in, and giving no care to what you look like on stage might be “punk rock”, but there’s a certain magic in a band coordinating their wardrobe around a specific style to really cultivate an image.

Shaw herself was in her usual pinafore dress getup, complete with sparkly suspenders and guitar-shaped enamel pins on her collar. Her glittery black bass, which I recognized from the Shannon and the Clams show at the Belly Up Tavern that I attended last year, sat waiting at the back of the stage. Her bandmates were equally done up: Boyer, Cisneros, and Scanniello donned similarly adorned Mariachi band-esque jackets, and Goddard was rocking a neck scarf and an impressive handlebar moustache. Their outfits’ consistent color palette of red and black seemed intentional, given the venue’s similarly colored decor.

If you’re a fan of Shannon and the Clams’ retro, ’60s girl group vibe, you’ll find a bit of it here.

Shaw’s solo work maintains the dreamy, nostalgic feelings that the Clams’ shows evoke, and the individuals in attendance at this show were clearly here for that. A mix of twentysomething hipsters and over-fifty eccentrics made up the Thursday night crowd, bonded in their tattoos and ironic facial hair. A John Waters lookalike, complete with the iconic pencil moustache, towered over us all from a few rows back. A fitting character in the scene, as Shannon and the Clams have been described as “something from a John Waters lucid dream”.

The set began with “Golden Frames”, the opening track from Shannon in Nashville. This song set the mood for the night: a vintage-inspired, heartfelt soundtrack to sway along to, as sparkly and captivating as Shaw’s bass guitar. After “Golden Frames”, I turned to my friend and made the following very astute observation: “She’s really good”. My KCR reviews might be 2000+ words, but I’m clearly a lot more concise in person.

The consistent use of keyboards and the inclusion of a trumpet during “Leather, Metal, Steel” added to the unique, enchanting sound of the night’s entertainment.

Shannon played through eleven other songs from her album, taking occasional breaks to chat with the audience about the weather, the venue, and the “haunted” whisky bar at which she and the band had been treated to dinner before the show. “Coal on the Fire”, the closing track on Shannon in Nashville, was perhaps the most Nashville-esque song that she performed for us. Its jangling, old-school-country inspired sound was the most danceable of the night. “Cold Pillows”, with its heartbreaking lyrics and group harmonies, was clearly inspired by girl groups of the 1960s.

To the best of my recollection, Shaw performed every song from the record except for “Lord of Alaska”, likely to the dismay of the person who requested it for the encore. She concluded her set with “Cryin’ My Eyes Out”, dedicating it to her father and asking that we send him positive energy. This was one of my favorite songs of the night, and the importance of the song to Shaw was clear to all of us.

I find that the Clams’ instrumentals, which lean more towards a doo-wop/surf sound than Shaw’s solo work, sometimes mask the underlying emotion of their songs’ lyrics with an inherent danceability. That’s not a bad thing, but at this show, Shaw’s raw feelings took center stage both in her lyrics and in her delivery. She’s an incredible vocalist, and the combination of her words and her powerful, soulful voice had me mesmerized in the front row.

If you don’t have a professional camera, exclusively use the Huji app so your photos can still be ~art~

I’ve noticed that my music taste seems to be going through a transitionary period in recent months. I used to consider myself more of a music person than a lyrics person, caring more about the energy of a live show than about the message a song was trying to convey to me. I was happy to mosh along to songs like “Cheap Beer” by FIDLAR and leave a show covered in a hundred other people’s sweat. Now, I find myself overcome with emotion when listening to “Holy Shit” by Father John Misty and being brought to almost-tears while dancing to “Someday” at the Growlers’ Snow Ball III show.

The only prerequisite for the music I’m currently obsessing over is that it must break my heart.

The point is, I think Shannon Shaw’s performance resonated more with me now than it would have if I’d seen this show a year ago. I guess context is key: sometimes, a fun punk show is all I’m looking for. But when I’m feeling a bit lost, swaying along to songs about unrequited love and loss can be cathartic. Anyway, I digress. This is supposed to be a show review, not a diary entry. Do I understand the difference? Probably not.

I’ve praised Shannon and the Clams before on this blog, calling them one of the most underrated bands of our time (and I am such an authority on the matter). Onion, their sixth studio album released last February, was one of my favorite records of 2018. Both Onion and Shannon in Nashville were produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, so I suppose it’s understandable that I’m also a big fan of Shaw’s solo record.

This brand of garage rock that Shaw has created, refined, and propagated throughout her different projects is just so unlike anything else in the music scene these days, and I’ve yet to find anyone else that comes close to imitating it.

I don’t want this review to read like an essay comparing Shannon’s sound to that of her other band, but I think the comparison is somewhat inevitable, given how integral she is to the Clams. This show was certainly as fun as the Shannon and the Clams show I attended, but it also felt like we were sharing something special as Shannon poured her soul out to us on stage. I guess my final verdict is this: if you like Shannon and the Clams, you’ll like Shannon Shaw. I mean, you already do. So is her solo stuff just more of the same? No, but it retains all the best parts of what we already know and love.

Written by: Andrea Renney

Julia Michaels at House of Blues San Diego

If you want to have a great time at a concert dancing and singing the night away – Go to a Julia Michaels Concert!

You truly won’t regret it. Both Julia Michaels’ energy and her audience’s energy filled the room. I can honestly say that her concert was one of the most fun ones I’ve been to simply because she had the loudest crowd.

Julia Michaels performing at House of Blues San Diego

Julia Michaels sold out her 9th headlining show for her Inner Monologue Tour at House of Blues San Diego on April 20, 2019. She is a very busy artist as she is also currently touring with P!nk on her Beautiful Trauma Tour at the same time as her Inner Monologue Tour.

Many of you may know Julia Michaels. However, if you’ve never heard of her, then you’ve most likely heard her hit single, “Issues.” Before that, Michaels was writing hit singles for other artists such as Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar,” Nick Jonas’s “Close,” and many more.

What is interesting about Michaels is she’s an intricate person – I’d describe her as a beautiful badass with her signature feminine floral dresses and her tattoo sleeves and nose ring. She has a very distinctive and different sound than most artists and her voice is easily recognizable.  Michaels is also a very open musician, which was the concept behind her “Inner Monologue” – those thoughts that she has that people don’t see from the outside. The stage represented what you see on the outside – everything is happy with smiley faces and flowers, but you listen to the lyrics and realize everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Michaels attempted to make her tour relatable by letting her fans know that it’s okay to go through depression or anxiety.

Julia Michaels made it clear that it was a judgement free zone and safe space for everyone to let go and sing and dance. Her music has a feel good vibe to it, and it was so much fun letting loose and relieving stress by screaming along to her songs. Additionally, her songs hold a lot of emotion and truth, so it naturally felt as though this was a place to just let everything out.

Julia Michaels has such a strong connection with her audience, she wanted to get as close to them as possible.

At one point, Michaels’ security carried her into the audience as she finished “Happy,” followed by a cover of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You,” and then a ukulele rendition of her own song “Apple.” She also sat on the edge of the stage pointing out her audience’s posters and making eye contact with fans. I even heard from some fans that the meet and greet took two hours because she’s so genuine and her conversations with each individual were long and personal.

I love how you could tell the audience truly admires Julia as they all had matching floral dresses and sneakers similar to Julia’s. But despite their elegant appearance, they were definitely one of the loudest audiences I’ve ever heard in a venue. Sometimes, you couldn’t even hear Julia because the audience had so much passion and energy! It’s amazing when songs from concerts become your new favorites because of how amazing and fun they sound live – and for me those songs were“Into You” and “Happy.”


I loved getting the opportunity to see Julia Michaels. Her message she imparted that you shouldn’t be afraid to be yourself and let your feelings out deeply resonated with me. If you want to have one of these fantastic nights with an amazing artist, make sure to go see Julia Michaels on her Inner Monologue Tour.

Review By: Alexandra Will
Photos By: Alexandra Will

Movements at the OC Observatory

Movements performed a sold-out show at the Observatory Orange County on Friday, April 19.

With alternative rock groups alongside Movements including Drug Church, Trash Boat, and Boston Manor, Movements managed to put on a memorable act that shows their growth as musicians as well as their appreciation for their loyal hometown fans.

Orange County’s Observatory, in comparison to the North Park location, was a bit too claustrophobic for my liking. For one, the venue was entirely general admission but consisted of terraces that spaced out the crowd into awkward sections. Second, the pit was simply too tiny for the number of people wanting to mosh, crowd surf, and just have that full concert experience. The crowd was stuffed like sardines but this did not put a damper on their energy for the openers. Unfortunately, I missed Drug Church and Trash Boat’s sets, but Boston Manor’s performance easily made up for it and got me excited for the rest of the concert.

An Emo and pop-punk band from across the pond, Boston Manor is hands down one of my favorite groups to watch live. Henry Cox is an excellent frontman with the vocal abilities to match which showed in their opener “Flowers in Your Dustbin” from their latest release Welcome to the Neighbourhood. Backed by talented musicians, Cox kept the crowd moving with their hits like “Halo” and “Lead Feet,” angst-driven anthems that warmed up fans for the main event.

Movements exploded in popularity upon releasing their debut album Feel Something in 2017.

Since then, they’ve toured with big-name players in the scene such as Knuckle Puck, Citizen, Turnover, and The Story So Far. The band opened with “The Grey” which describes the feeling of slipping into a cold and lonely depression. Frontman Patrick Miranda, who is open about his struggles with anxiety and depression, is unafraid to speak on mental health issues in his lyrics. Next up was a fan favorite “Colorblind” which had the audience pushing, shoving, and loudly singing along. Miranda is known for his colorblindness, consistently making note of it in other songs like “Deep Red” which is a personal favorite of mine. This song starts off with a catchy bassline, worked by Austin Cressey, that punches through the guitars and vocals. The chorus is ear-wormy in and of itself with a break down that allowed the band to let loose on stage.

Movements is a SoCal band that grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita who, despite their rise to fame in the scene, have not forgotten their roots. This show specifically was a sign of gratitude to the fans that have stayed with them all these years. Patrick reminisced to the time they opened for the band Basement in the same venue. In 2015, they performed in front of 300 people. Today, they sold-out a well-known music venue, playing in front of an audience who truly cares about their art.

The end of the show was bittersweet. Movements came out to a crowd chanting their name and finished with the classic “Daylily.” As the song reached its crescendo, Patrick raised the mic to the audience as they sang “‘I think it’s time you had a pink cloud summer'” back to the band. The group felt at home and living the dream.

Written by: Rica Perez

Bad Suns at the Observatory North Park

Bad Suns

The Bad Suns’ 2019 Mystic Truth Tour brought them to the Observatory North Park during April 3rd this year alongside Carlie Hanson.

Before the Bad Suns’ set began, 18 year old Carlie Hanson opened the venue with some entertaining, uplifting energy followed by passionate music coming from her band.

When her time was up, it was setting up time for the stagehands. It was quite clear that although the instruments for the band were there the set was not ready beforehand. This lead to waiting for the main show to start, but that is expected usually when seeing a band that is constantly touring. When the set was ready and the light tests were done, out went the lights and the show began.

Shortly afterwards, a couple notes began playing and the Bad Suns walked on stage to their designated spots amazed the audience. Their passion for music and the sound that they create go in hand with each other, and is demonstrated even better when seen performed.

As someone who was not fully aware of their songs and progress, I definitely saw myself having a good time at the concert alongside all these die hard fans who were singing and dancing their hearts out along Christo Bowman (Lead Singer of Bad Suns). There was never a single mistake through their entire performance, which was fantastic to see.

In conclusion, this band did a great job at creating the environment fans wanted, there wasn’t a second where they were not going mental over the sounds being emitted. If you ever get the chance to see these young indie legends perform, I would say take it because you will be in for a modern rock experience.

Written by: Santi Vidal