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Mikal Cronin and Shannon and The Clams @ Kung Fu Necktie.

June 20, 2013

MikalCroninEDITOR’S NOTE: what follows below are Nikki Volpicelli’s only-slightly edited, chronological set of notes she made on Tuesday when Mikal Cronin (above), Shannon and The Clams and Roomrunner played Kung Fu Necktie. Text and images by Nikki Volpicelli.

Seeing this group, Roomrunner, is going to be the closest thing to seeing Nirvana live that I will experience in my lifetime, even though the guys on stage seem too scared to throw or smash the cymbals at the end of their set. But the anxiety is definitely there. The desire, too. Maybe they just lack the monetary backing to kill so much equipment (or they are nice enough not to terrorize the drum set before the night’s other acts had to use it).

The reverb-y ending is long and intense and serves as a fine finale to a set I knew nothing about in the beginning and wanted to know everything about by the end.

ShannonAndTheClamsShannon and The Clams (above) make prom music, I tell ya. They are every sense of what I really wish prom would’ve been, which would’ve been a 50s-style high school cafeteria stuffed with taffeta from rafter to rafter, blinking sequins, dancing awkwardly with boys in tuxedos, punch bowls, mop tops, the whole shebang.The group has a Shangri-la’s feel and mixes that with a Black Lips sound and general Burger Records lifestyle factor that makes them current.

“We hydroplaned 10 hours from Boston,” says Shannon Shaw, lead singer and bassist with the apparent excuse for the groups’ tardiness, a blemish that was quickly forgotten after they started raging through new and old songs.

You know what’s cool? That everyone around me thinks I’m a fucking asshole texting during the show. I’m sure of it. I would think I was an asshole, too. But what I’m really doing is taking notes and saying this: that rock outlets like Burger and Drag City deserve a whole-hearted, straight-from-the-belly clap. Appreciate ya. You save us, us lil’ kids all grown up now after a few tumultuous years of Hanson and Backstreet and Britney and grill-y rap. You came through and swooped us up and made the kids alright again.

The bassist wearing a Burger shirt reminds me of all of this. The group is backed by the label and the label is fully backed by all of its artists in a way that’s super endearing. It’s a sense of pride that goes both ways, I think.

This is a show we will tell someone about later on in life and to me, that’s what I get from this Burger revolution. It’s a revolution. A revelation too. I’m not sure of who we will tell about this particular gig, whether it’s our kids or what, but someone who’s listening. Some future-bot who wants to know what it was like growing up in the 2010’s.

And then Mikal Cronin takes the stage with three other musicians. I mean to be quite honest, I can’t tell who’s Mikal on stage for the first couple of minutes. Everyone’s wearing long dark brown hair and black pants. I guess I know it’s him all the way to the right because he’s shredding so hard and singing his songs. And he has a shirt with what looks like an “M” on it.

Why does no one ever look at the drummer? This waif of a girl is killing it with no emotional reaction. Hair catching the breeze, she methodically pounds away, needing nothing to look like the ultimate hair metal babe. Classic rock drum queen. Someone taps me on the shoulder, shows me their iPhone that says “Emily Rose Epstein, drummer.” I’m glad I’m not the only one here who’s noticing that she’s what to keep your eyes on during this set (and in the future). And thanks to whoever that was for the tip.

Then it hits me, she’s the same drummer as the one I saw during last year’s Ty Segall show at the Star Theatre in Portland. The same one that tore down the house with epic, strict, calculated, emotional, heartbeat, alive, monstrous skills.

Who even cares about applauding easy vocals after hearing this drummer? She’s working harder than anyone else on stage.

After the shoowoppy “Weight,” Cronin says, “We’re gonna play some new songs.”

He shoves into a ripping song that sounds so much like “You don’t have to live like a refugee” or whatever it’s called, although that is Tom Petty* or something. Killer.

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