The Most Wholesome Show of the Year: Reviewing Shamir at Chop Suey

Author: Shelby Joy Leone

The last thing I thought I would ever see was a Bay Area post-punk band open for Shamir. But This was the first of many happy surprises. My fellow bay area natives, Pardoner, opened the show at Chop Suey, which of course gave me a wave of warm fuzzy feelings of home. Coming from The Bay myself, I have heard of Pardoner before, and I highly recommend you check out their music if you are looking for what the best of the Bay scene has to offer, (BANDCAMP HERE!) you will not be dissapointed.

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Pardoner, Photo by Nastia Voynovskaya

Next up was the new-love-of-my-life Michete, a local Seattle-based rapper. Michete is loud, proud, raunchy, and bat-s**t crazy. I knew I was in love when she announced: “Are there any queers here expecting like, dancing bangers from Shamir? Yeah okay that’s not gonna happen, he’s gonna do some other stuff, I am delivering the p**sy poppers tonight.”

Michete is a natural on stage. Even during would-be awkward moments of silence, she was performing. When she wasn’t singing or rapping, she was giving full face. She is the only rapper I would gladly shout RHIANNA KRAFT SINGLES for. And I don’t even eat cheese.

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Michete, in her video for “You Spin Me Round”

The first thing Shamir (who identifies as gender fluid but goes by he/him pronouns) did was say “Hi I’m Tracy Chapman” and then asked if anyone had a Marlboro Light cigarette, and, it being Seattle, he got one immediately thrown at him. With this delivery, the music began. Michete was right, Shamir’s recorded discography may be filled with hip-hop beats and dance music, but tonight he was delivering an indie rock performance backed by a band, guitar in his hand. This wasn’t much of a surprise, given the sound of Revelations, Shamir’s latest release. Shamir, tired of the pop circuit, took an abrupt but necessary hiatus, and then returned with an album written in a single weekend, Hope. These albums, and this tour, mark Shamir’s triumphant return to what he is comfortable with, and I am so here for it. Some songs, like “You Have a Song” remind me of a time in Riot Grrrl punk where girls were encouraged to write slow but heavy songs in their bedrooms. Shamir has this same softness in his music and his voice.

Revelations as an album shows Shamir’s return to his punk and indie roots while maintaining his signature countertenor vocals. The music is hard and heavy, but the vocals and words are soft, sweet, and break my heart. The song “90’s Kids” may be Shamir’s best song yet. It deals with the current struggles of those of us born in the 90s, scorned by older generations and left to fester in our own anxiety and student debt (as one might assume, I can truly relate). The chorus is infectious and anthem like. It reads: “So put a drink in the air/For the college girls and boys/Paralyzing anxiety/Is just a chore/Well our parents say we’re dramatic/But they always ask for more/Than we do”. The audience sang along to the refrain (90s kids! 90s kids!). I may have been born in 1998, the tail end of the 90s, but I throughly enjoyed these moments of teenage catharsis.

One of the best parts of the show was the obvious love between the members of the band, as well as the comradery of the entire lineup. Christina, Shamir’s best friend, played bass for him, and the love between them was obvious to all who witnessed their shared glances and smiles. It is easy to feel the wave of relief Shamir has felt in his return to the music he truly wants to write.

The band was obviously well-practiced, technically smart, and having a good time–the holy trinity of live music. The night ended with Michete and Pardoner returning to the stage to perform “Tantrum” by Michete featuring Shamir. A rapper, a pop punk band, and a musical prodigy all danced on stage together, obviously having the time of their lives. The party was fun, warm, and we were all invited.

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Photo by David Brandon Geeting



SHELBY JOY LEONE | Feelin’ like a 90s Kid | KXSU Music Reporter

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