There may be no place like home but – just like Dorothy Gale discovered as she traveled to the Emerald City – Shannon and the Clams proved that a sanctuary can be found anywhere as long as you’re with your friends.
Donning Halloween costumes – Wizard of Oz themed and otherwise – the group led an Oct. 26 performance full of great music at Thalia Hall in Chicago as local favorites Ohmme and Andrew Sa also shared in the frightful fun. With All Hallows Eve just days away, each of the artists paid homage to pop culture icons with their wardrobes and/or song choices during the Tuesday night concert which was presented by Chirp Radio 107.1FM.
Shannon and the Clams kicked off their set with a stirring rendition of “Do I Wanna Stay,” the opening track from their latest release, Year of the Spider. Bassist/vocalist Shannon Shaw howled, “Do I wanna stay/In the place I was half-raised/Haunted by the days of being young,” as fans basked in the luscious timbre of her voice. The slow-burner built up the kinetic energy in the room which was soon released when the group went into the toe-tapper “I Leave Again,” this time guitarist Cody Blanchard taking the lead.
“Hi, we’re Shannon and the Clams. Thank you so much for coming out,” Shaw said leading into the psychedelic “Midnight Wine,” featuring Will Sprott’s eerie synth sounds perfectly complimenting the steady beat of Nate Mahan on drums. “It’s Too Late,” “The Boy,” and “Hey Willy” were also standouts on the setlist.
If Shannon and the Clams took fans down the Yellow Brick Road, Ohmme offered a red pill straight into the Matrix both with their attire and the moody green-lighting that colored their guitar-heavy set. Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart – joined by V.V. Lightbody and Emerson Hunton – were in rare form sounding raw, distorted, and angry in their instrumentation while their vocal harmonies remained as pristine as ever.
Throughout the set, bookended by a pair of Fantasize Your Ghost tunes – the grungy “Flood Your Gut” and the Zappa-esque closer “Ghost” – Ohmme dazzled with their musicianship while unleashing verse after verse of irresistible phrasing. Elsewhere in the set, longtime fans also enjoyed a bit of old-school Ohmme as Cunningham and Stewart performed “Fingerprints” from their self-titled EP as a duo sans their accompanying band.
Cunningham noted that Ohmme was “happy” to be back at Thalia Hall, “honored” to be opening for Shannon and the Clams, and “delighted” to have followed a set from Andrew Sa. The country crooner shared original songs as well as a cover of Richard Swift’s “The Million Dollar Baby” before closing out the set with a haunting take on “Just You” from Twin Peaks. Clad in mechanic coveralls – just like the song’s fictional composer James Hurley – and bathed in a stark spotlight, it was a spooky season moment of which David Lynch would be proud.
Shannon and the Clams, Ohmme, and Andrew Sa have very different musical aesthetics. What unites their sounds is a shared appreciation for the music of the past and how that can be built upon to create interesting art for the future. That and their incredible talents for creating transcendent live performances.