SXSW Music Review: Shamir
Prolific indie writer ditches disco-house
By Rachel Rascoe,
1:40PM, Wed. Mar. 14, 2018
Group identities can be brandished on a bumper sticker or asserted by a new haircut. In a midnight Tuesday set at Sidewinder’s outdoor stage, Shamir Bailey wore his on a jean jacket.
Embellished with a Velvet Underground patch and button featuring Corrine Burns of Eighties cult punk flick Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, the former disco-house star followed his chosen forbears down the path of indie rock. His trademark butterfly barrette fluttered overhead.
In a brisk 40 minutes put on by Bailey’s label Father/Daughter Records, the Philly-based artist left his dance music history in the dust. He subbed in yipping, growling, and shriek-accented renditions of the songs from last year’s meditative sophomore effort Revelations. Leading a trio on his upside-down golden guitar, the lefty chugged through speedy, emotive choruses and jagged tempo alterations.
All sound streamlined under the non-binary singer’s persistent falsetto, emulating the shrill-turned-poignant abrasion of named-checked Austin influence Daniel Johnston. After sandwiched takes from his catchy new year EP Room, the Las Vegas native addressed the latest addition to his prolific catalog, a surprise collection titled Resolution, which dropped last week on Bandcamp.
“I released an album this Friday without telling anybody. It’s very fresh, so don’t judge us,” warned the 23-year-old bandleader before launching into surrendering new take “Dead Inside.”
Introducing shattering finale “Glass,” Bailey elaborated on the unexpected release’s personal function.
“It’s about toxic people. There’s a lot of them in this world. I did a big cleanse and had to write about it.”
The song motored through chronicles of resistance with lovely emphasis from the bassist’s backing harmonies, landing on a final gritty scream of “no turning back.” Reclining on an amp for a feedback-strewn fadeout, Shamir made it perfectly clear he has no intention of doing so.