It was a cold and slushy Monday night in NYC. The kind that makes you wonder why you ever liked winter in the first place. But anyone lucky enough to be walking by the Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side that night might have felt a warming siren’s call luring you to come in. And if you were smart enough to heed that beacon, you would’ve found solace from the elements in the sultry sounds of California songstress Bago.
It’s not very often that you hear a left coaster apologize for bringing piss poor weather with them to New York. But that’s ok, cause as soon as Bago’s velvety voice begins the audience was ready to forgive her for pretty much anything.
Her voice carries a profound sense of longing that makes her music the kind you play for a lover when they come over. But it’s what you play as they’re about to leave and then you watch them crawl back into bed. After a quick intro, she burst into “Rage.” And you can feel the pain of a jilted lover as she sings “You can lie to the moon, but it knows what you’ve done.” And then you wonder, who would be stupid enough to wrong her so. And when she told the crowd “I could be your fan if you want me to” on the track “Bowtie” you could feel them saying, “Yes, please, let’s be seen together.”
In stark contrast to the jazzy sounds belted out by Bago was the trashing grunge infused guitar rock of Long Island duo, The Glazzies. The opening chords of their tunes take me right back to my high school days, when bands from the west coast we’re reintroducing the public to fuzz and earnest garage rock. I can’t wait to hear what they sound like once they have a bassist and rhythm guitarist to round out their live shows. They already tap in to that teen-angst that you never let go of on tunes like “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” and “Maybe Someday.” Now I want to hear what they bring forth as life keeps hitting them.
But this truly night belonged to one act, the performance art that is Shirley House. Before I go any farther, I want to preface this by saying I had never heard of Shirley House, but I will go and see them any night they take the stage. Shirley House may be the brain child of DJ Natural State (Gillian Sandman), vocalist (Sa)Moncé (Sam Smith), but is so much more than that. It’s power pop supported by a family of backup singers, called the choir, and dancers (full of costume changes – something I’d never seen at the Mercury Lounge before) who made me wish my internal rhythm wasn’t stuck in a granite foundation. I couldn’t tell whether I should just dance or keep clicking away trying to capture their spirit and constant flux.
Shirley House is equal parts humor and electro beats wrapped in a “break in case of groove” glass. And that glass was shattered into a million pieces that night. I think my old physics professors would be hard pressed to come up with a chaos theory formula to describe their kinetic frenzied motion.
As much fun as the band was having the crowd was absorbing their vibe throwing it back to Shirley House ten fold. From the moment that lead singer Sam Smith began singing from the floor of the Mercury Lounge, to when he ended soaked in sweat, Shirley House made us all a part of their family.
Article: Omar Kasrawi