Shamir is one of the most if not the most pop-orientated acts on the Laneway bill which is refreshing when you've watched a bunch of innovative, interesting acts but are still searching for a hook to grab onto. His inclusion on the bill would've definitely earned him more fans in the country because of that but his sideshow in Sydney was made up of punters who most likely fell in love with the Las Vegas singer on the internet. He's one of those artists who appeals to Twitter-active fans because he's funny, sassy and relevant online. It helps that he also brings those same qualities to his music.
He pounced onto the stage at Oxford Art Factory with an ode to his hometown Vegas. It's a slinky, smouldering song that gave him time to work into in, slowly beginning to move and taking the crowd with him. It's probably the most minimal song he has in his catalogue and it gives us the best chance to hear his high-pitched but roughly textured voice.
Shamir as a figure is imposing in a good way. He's tall with eyes that can't help but lock with members of the audience and he's not afraid of that. He's confident and after a good year of touring still looks as if he's enjoying the material from his debut album Ratchet. This is never more clear than when he bounds into In For The Kill, jumping around the stage and dancing as if he's holed-up in his own bedroom. Thankfully the whole front row of the crowd looked exactly the same. He came in hot, following In For The Kill with arguably his biggest song On The Regular. The first single from Ratchet is Shamir at his sassy best, rapping over a cowbell, "while everybody is minus, you could call me multiply." If after hearing that song, you're still unsure who Shamir is as an artist then you probably won't every understand. It's his anthem and it was a smart idea to introduce himself with it so early in the set.
The singer was backed by a back-up vocalist who matched the energy of Shamir, often stepping out from behind the mic to start the audience clapping. She was a necessary sidekick when Shamir decided to momentarily enter his own world, bringing the audience to his energy level. He covered off every song from his debut moving from stomping, playful bass of Hot Mess to the giddy, drunk synths of Make A Scene. The latter made for one of the night's highlights, finally bringing the whole crowd to the same party Shamir had been at from the start.
While he looked pleased to be in Sydney for the first time for the most part of the set, something shifted towards the end. Obviously having trouble with the noise the crowd was making, Shamir stopped I Know It's A Good Thing and politely told the crowd to stop talking and just dance which was basically adhered to for seconds and then ignored by the back of the crowd. It was a shame because some of the more haunting moments like the sweeping Darker were cluttered by chatter. Luckily, his voice rose above on that number particularly sounding more textured and stretched than ever before.
The party managed to continue and even get better thanks to the playful, dance-ready beat of Call It Off and Head In The Clouds furthered that pushing people to dance harder with its swirling, rainbow-coloured synths. When Shamir left the stage to prepare for the encore though he was clearly annoyed by the talking. He returned for a poised, affecting performance of I'll Never Be Able To Love Again but left the stage once again. His bandmates managed to convince him to step back up for thumping-funk closer Sometimes A Man but by that stage he'd checked out. And it's hard to blame him. It's really poor form for a crowd to feel like they can talk through an entire performance, particularly when it's as vibrant as Shamir's. Whether or not you've paid for a ticket you're there to see the act. It's perplexing as to why you'd go just to have an interrupted conversation and beyond that, it's just rude.
Still, Shamir was impressive. The set was playful, personality-filled and funky, perfectly elevating what he served up on Ratchet and his Northlane EP. He's an intriguing performer - one with enough weird to captivate and enough normal to relate. That's the perfect balance.
All photo by Brayden Smith (BCS Imaging).