Over the past year, Shamir Bailey, who records and performs under his first name, produced two entire albums. The first was a self released 12-track album entitled Hope earlier in the year. It’s filled with raw pop, punk, and even country gems that, according to the Soundcloud description, was written and recorded in a weekend. The second, Revelations, released on Father/Daughter Records, was delivered a mere seven months later in November. Both records are a significant change from the slick production of Ratchet but are more potent both lyrically and sonically than that LP.
On a cold and icy Friday evening, Shamir brought that much needed warmth to the U Street Music Hall, playing a set primarily of songs from the aforementioned Hope and Revelations. Backed by best friend Christina and Vivian Girls drummer Fiona Campbell, the songs shone with the basic guitar, bass, and drums combo held with Shamir’s beautiful contratenor.
Watch the official music video for “90s Kids” by Shamir on YouTube:
Part of the charm to the performance was in the descriptions Shamir gave of how songs came about. For example, while introducing the song “Easier,” he explained that the song was about “that one friend that we love like family, but we wouldn’t take to a family function.” And it was fascinating to hear how being surrounded by a family of twins helped to influence the commercial for Ray Ban that featured the song “Tryna Survive,” which included a band made of twins.
Although in previous shows on this tour he has purposely not played many tracks from 2015’s Ratchet, for the encore Shamir told the audience that he’d play one track — “Demon” or “In for the Kill” — and although the audience was equally enthusiastic, the winner was “In for the Kill.” And with just Shamir and a gold sequined Danelectro guitar, the song was transformed from a beat-heavy number to something that felt more personal.
Shamir shows that regardless of how the art is presented, these songs shine with a brilliance because of the skill and craft of the artist. Shamir just wrapped up an East Coast tour (finishing in Philly on Dec. 16), but he is embarking on a West Coast tour in February. Check it out here.
The set list included:
You Have a Song
I Fucking Hate You
When I’m Gone (Vivian Girls cover)
All the Places No One Wants to Be (new song)
In for the Kill – solo
Here are some photos of Shamir performing at U Street Music Hall on Dec. 15, 2017. All photos copyright and courtesy of David LaMason.