Show Review: Shannon and the Clams

Stepping into Echo Park’s Echoplex, is like stepping into a warmly nostalgic juke joint of yesteryear combined with the rich, vibrant culture of its surrounding community. Aptly, its spacious grounds lay home to kitschy bar stands and seating areas decked out in black and red vinyl, alongside disco balls and promotions of “psychedelic cumbia punk”. With this a sentimentality of the old meshes with the unabashed irreverence of today’s groove, setting the perfect stage for Shannon and The Clams—a band that mimics the sound of 50's dance hall with a dash of punk and the lowbrow aesthetic of a John Waters film.

Shannon and The Clams member, Will Sprott, opens with his self-titled group which generated a respectable ambience of nodding and slight bopping. A solid performance no doubt, but one which inspired perhaps a less physical enthusiasm from the audience. With tracks like, “Psychic Lady” off of his album Vortex Numbers, the audience was treated to a sound which evoked a potential soundtrack to a tour of Route 66.

Then feet really start to move when Thee Commons blasts its brilliant blend of cumbia covers, which fuse slowed traditional beats, with the guitar riffs and sentiment of something closer to 80’s rockabilly. Starting with a rendition of “Cumbia del Sol” which quite literally announces the band’s ode to cumbia, more subtle references are aimed at Juaneco y Su Combo (amongst many others) such as in the track “Juaneco Y La Negra.” In addition to its faster paced sound, the disco balls were operated per request of the lead singer whilst someone dressed in a pink gorilla suit strutted between the performers. Then concluding their performance, they invite audience members to join them in a dance on stage.

At this point there was a transition and in filling this musical void, Chuck Berry’s “Never Can Tell” (of the infamous Pulp Fiction), “The Twist”, and “Twist And Shout” were blasted from the speakers creating the air of what could have easily been a middle school dance of the 50’s. However, this shred of modesty was quickly replaced by the outlandishness of the headlining act, Shannon and The Clams. Shannon Shaw enters with a blonde bouffant and noticeably thick eyeliner as Cody Blanchard enshrouds himself in a blanket and Will Sprott appears as an angsty offspring of the KFC Colonel. They hit it off with an oldie, "Sleep Talk" which transitions the crowd from the earlier peppy tunes, yet gradually they bring in a growly, punk sound with darker undertones as in their It’s Too Late and Runaway.” The show comes to an end, but not before lead vocalist, Shannon Shaw, imparts a token of wisdom stating, “Don’t forget the DIY movement.” It seems that both she and fellow musicians of the night took this creed to heart, as literally in between acts performers helped sell homemade merchandise. And considering the number of people waiting in line to support these artists, it seems that the message was imparted on them too. 



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