The lights go down, the fog machine kicks up, and a cloaked figure kneels on a platform inside an 108 year old building. Was this the beginning of a religious ceremony? An occult ritual? Nope. Just the beginning of Shannon and the Clams’ set at the Great American Music Hall last Friday night. Oakland’s doo wop-garage babes celebrated the release of their fourth album, “Gone By The Dawn”, with a show-turned-party at the historic Tenderloin venue, performing both classics and latest hits in gold sequined suit jackets and bowties on a stage decorated with fake flowers, glitter tapestries, and metallic balloons.
Before Shannon Shaw headlined the show, San Franciscan space rockers Silver Shadows kicked off the night with a blend of darkwave, punk, and dream pop. The four piece, decked out in silver lamé and shiny face makeup, got the audience riled up with a short but sweet set that was reminiscent of a soundtrack to a 1980s outer space video game, but in the strongest, most fantastic way possible, securing a spot for themselves amongst SF’s most promising acts.
San Francisco-via-Oakland rockers, Mantels, followed Silver Shadows serving the audience a healthy dose of traditional garage rock. They came off as veterans of the Bay Area’s underground rock scene, sounding wonderfully refined yet just gritty enough to get a mosh pit going. A few shredding guitars and bouncy drums gave the audience a heavy warm up to the night, prepping everyone for Shannon and the Clams’ pop-rock-doo-wop hybrid that was to follow.
Consequently, Shannon and the Clams absolutely killed it. They knew it was their night, and commanded the stage like the Bay Area kingpins they are, doing what they do best for a sea of fans, family members, and fellow musicians. As it was their album release show, they fittingly performed the majority of the songs off of “Gone By The Dawn”, and even though most of the tracks were previously unheard by the public, the audience danced to each one like they were classics. Shannon and her gang certainly didn’t forget about the music that allowed them to sell out the Great American Music Hall, however, and played oldies but great-ies like “Hey Willy,” “Sleep Talk,” “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers,” even the rarely heard live “You Can Come Over.”
The night seems like a dreamy blur of moshing, sing-a-longs, smiling, groovin’, and plain magic in retrospect. With their fourth record, they just keep getting better, backed up by bigger arrangements, a bigger fan base, and bigger venues. Shannon and the Clams are on the road to sonic world domination, and they’re bringing us all along for the ride.
Photo courtesy of Aimee Myers