Show me your Battlescars.

The Shoos – Upstairs at Whelan’s (7th September 2012)

Yes, my dear readers, I was at Whelan’s again, what a surprise! This time to see a band that I was fortunate enough to stumble upon earlier in the year (June 22nd to be precise; and yes, before you ask, at Whelan’s) and they are The Shoos. I was thoroughly impressed with them the first time I heard them, and am fairly gutted that I haven’t known about them for longer. But alas, that’s life, and life has now brought me to the launch of their highly-anticipated debut album Panic Slowly.

The album was simply meant to be a live EP, but as described by the band themselves, “We kept recording and looking at each other in disbelief that it was working out so well, so we kept the red light on until we had 10 tracks.” And I for one am certainly glad they did. In fact, I have some fairly concrete evidence that I’m really really liking this album; if you bear in mind that I bought this album at the launch, taking a quick glance at my play-count on iTunes tells you that I have very possibly played each track at least 37 times… Crikey.

Before The Shoos themselves took to the stage, we were treated to an excellent show by support from Corrina Jaye; she’s got a strong voice with some very solid songs to boot; Clay Out Of Mud being a clear audience favourite! I’d certainly check her out, and judging by the warm reaction from the rest of the crowd, I dare say we’ll be hearing a lot more from this girl once her album is released.

Having seen The Shoos two or three times before, I certainly had high expectations for the night, and I’ve got to say that those expectations were totally blown out of the water. From start to finish the band delivered, and Scott was even good enough to take the time to do a brief cover of Lady in Red upon request, much to the amusement of the rest of the guys!
The set began with the totally incendiary Timebomb, an up-tempo song which my mother seems to believe sounds reminiscent of a young Bryan Adams, but I’ll let you judge that one for yourself!

After the second song, Tex tried to summon the tentative audience forward a few feet, as there was that somewhat awkward gap between the crowd and the stage, and of course, as a self-confessed front-row junkie, I bounded towards the stage without a second thought, closely followed by my friend Caoimhe. It appeared though, that not everyone else was as daring as us, and so as we turned to face the onlookers (née, traitors!) it transpired that the band found our enthusiasm rather amusing, with Scott quipping, “Well, someone’s certainly eager!”
Pah, as if it could possibly be a bad thing!

The show was heavily-laden with tracks from the new album, with only three songs from their EP Rescue Room making an appearance, and even without the typically audience-rousing Yeah, the set worked wonders. For me, the slower numbers like Right Way Out and Battlescars were real highlights; lyrically these are really powerful songs, and I found myself totally captivated by the compelling performances.
Between songs that were performed with passionate, pitch-perfect musicianship, marvellously gravelly vocals and some genuinely touching anecdotes told alongside Tex’s characteristically charismatic dry wit, it just became one of those nights that leaves the entire audience elated, impressed and overwhelmed all at once.

Of course I can’t speak for everyone in the room, but I certainly felt a great sense of sincerity from the band that night; they were fantastically vulnerable, as open and honest as I’ve ever heard them talk about their fairly recent unfortunate experience in America. The fact that Tex was able to speak so candidly about how hard it was for them to stick together after that fiasco really struck a chord; here is a band that genuinely appreciate their successes so far, despite the knocks. They love their audience, and trust them enough, fans both old and new alike, to share, so earnestly, such a personally distressing experience. Each and every one of us that was present in the crowd that night were simply a testament to the hard work that The Shoos have been putting in over the past few years.

The fact is, The Shoos have been able to overcome the misfortune that stood in their way, and quite frankly, they’ve emerged from the debacle resolute and triumphant. This experience will undoubtedly strengthen them and their resolve to make a success of what they have to offer the world. No matter what knocks them back, there’s going to be no stopping them! And sure, with an ability to write and perform like these guys are doing already, let’s just say I don’t think it’ll be very long until they’re being tipped to sell out arenas.

Myself and Caoimhe seemingly enjoying the show rather a lot…
Photo taken by Peter Fleming.

If you’re around Dublin on Arthur’s Day (September 17th) at half five, be sure to head into Flannery’s on Camden St. for a great show, and some free pints!

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