In 2017, singing, songwriting wunderkind Shamir transitioned from dance pop to indie rock with two new albums, Hope and Revelations. He brought those new works to the First Unitarian Church on Saturday, putting on a stellar tour-ending show and giving Philly a taste of one of music’s most exciting young voices. Here are some photos and highlights from the night.
1. Shamir is a guitar wiz
The Nevada-born singer-songwriter wielded a gold guitar throughout his performance, showing his ability to write catchy hooks that blend effortlessly with guitar chords. His rock harmonies are infectious, and they particularly shined in pop-fueled songs like “Tryna Survive” and the vicious but catchy “I Fuckin Hate U.”
2. He brought along an A-plus support system
Shamir has gathered a stellar backing band that helps bring his forward-thinking visions to life. On Saturday, that was former Vivian Girls drummer Fiona Campbell and one of his best friends, Christina, on bass. Songs like “90’s Kids” exhibited a catchy soul that was further enhanced by the drums, bass and even the audience, who provided a backup vocal of sorts as they sang along throughout the night.
3. He gave us a taste of his older tunes
Many among the decent-sized crowd that showed up to the First Unitarian Church have been following Shamir for a minute, so it goes without saying that the room lit up when he ended the night with a few of his earlier tracks, including his wonderful cover of Lindi Ortega’s “Lived and Died Alone” and the electronic-infused “Demon,” from his 2015 album, Ratchet. The latter song included the lyrics, “If I’m a demon, baby/ You’re the beast that made me”—quite apt, I’d say, for a show that spotlighted a musician in the midst of an artistic evolution. I speak for everyone that showed up Saturday night when I say that we’re waiting with bated breath to see what he comes up with next.
4. Partner was jaw-droppingly awesome
Canadian-based, genre-bending rock act Partner opened with one of the finest opening sets of 2017. Headed by Josée Caron and Lucy Niles, the duo mix classic-rock sensibilities with the offbeat to create a super unique and addictive sound. On Saturday, they played songs from their debut LP, In Search of Lost Time. Watching them jump, sway and smile as they played, you knew they were having as much fun performing as the audience was having listening. Pro tip: Keep these guys on your radar and don’t miss them the next time they’re in town.