Thursday, 29 October 2015
ARTIST: Shannon & the Clams – [Live]
VENUE: Great Scott – Allston, MA – 18/10/15
DATE: 10-29-15
REVIEW BY: Ollie Ottoman

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How can anyone in their right mind not have a smile on their face when listening to Shannon and the Clams? I know the band gets me smiling, and it has nothing to do with their live persona, their charming low-fi sound, their heavily rockabilly-inspired music or their matching costumes. At least that’s not the case not anymore. These days, I smile when I think of Shannon and the Clams because of how they’re evolving, ever so slightly, into something a little more complex than what they used to be, and their new album Gone by the Dawn (one of the best albums this year) is a testament to that. Actually, come to think of it, something about this band does make me frown: do they have to put on shows which go so late?

Maybe it’s not the band, and just Great Scott – my favorite venue in Boston; one where I can depend on a comfortable spot to see the band, a lively crowd, and a good beer list. One thing I learned not to depend on after tonight was good sound. Listen: the Clams are gifted musicians both when it comes to writing and performing. Guitarist Cody Blanchard has the dance moves to match his effortless picking (and never missing a beat on either) and Shannon Shaw just murders the bass on stage while swaying back and forth gently with it. Fronted by these two, the band is gold which makes me wonder about the addition of a new keyboardist on tour. It’s not so much that it adds an unnecessary level of complexity to the live performance (the Clams are evolving, after all), but that it’s so goddamn loud (and this is equally on the sound engineer at Great Scott) that is was drowning out all the noise. Or maybe it was just the mixing that night. Whatever the case, a lot of the time it was hard to distinguish what was being played, which of course, takes away a lot from tonight’s performance. So this needed to be overcome by the audience.

That aside, the band was pleasantly focusing on the more fast-paced stuff in their songbook. Kicking things off with “Rat House,” the band the heavily selected cuts off their new album, but stayed away from my favorites, like “I Will Miss the Jasmine,” “My Man,” “Corvette,” and “Gone by the Dawn” which was a little perplexing. The omissions of those songs from the set was a big disappointment. At least they played some crowd favorites like “Hey Willie,” “Rip Van Winkle” and the killer “How Long?” Even better, “How Long?” was light on the keyboards which made it sound fantastic on this unusually chilly Boston night. “Turn off the AC on the city,” said Shannon Shaw.

Maybe I’m just being an old grump here, so let’s focus on what a great thing it is to have a band like Shannon and the Clams out there, back on the streets and bringing the noise. I presume they’re going to be on tour for the rest of their lives and until the next album is out, so you don’t have an excuse not to be there.


Shannon & The Clams’ current tour continues. Click here for a list of upcoming shows.


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