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Shy Boyz: Actually Talented? Yes.

June 14, 2017

Text by Eric Fitzsimmons. Image by Charles Wrzesniewski.

Shy Boyz finish their set at Ortlieb’s and lead singer King SoloMon returns from the back room wearing only an adult diaper.

“I just have to clean some stuff on the stage,” King SoloMon says as fake blood rolls down his chin. “Then, can we talk in the bar?”

The Shy Boyz — which includes Coke Shoulderz on bass, guitarist Airyon Love, saxophonist RamaDom, Jimi Moon on drums, Chef Dulce Vino on keyboard and the group’s “poet laureate” Bryan, who sometimes performs as the dancing girl Anna — are a band known for bizarre live shows and music videos. They all hail from East Falls, a sleepy neighborhood in Northwest Philadelphia that probably has little idea the sorts of mayhem its sons are committing in the name of music.

This may be why band members insist on going by stage names.

The group’s founding members, singer King SoloMon and Airyon Love, return to the bar still in diapers but also in scraps of their typically strange stage outfits as a small nod to decency and staying warm. Animal prints are a common feature of their costumes. So are bright colors and fake furs. Often, it’s a combination of the three. Tonight, Airyon Love wears what looks like the old Members Only jackets popular among suburban dads in the 1980s, except his jacket is hot pink.

ShyBoyzOnline

Love says Shy Boyz were always in the ether but if you have to put a date on it, they started playing under that name in 2014, showing up at local open mics and building a following. Open mic nights can be a tough way to break through in music but this band had an ability to make lasting impressions.

Vocalist Ali Wadsworth was working the bar at Fergie’s on one of these occasions when she first encountered Shy Boyz. She remembers that they seemed normal when they signed up, except for some off-beat fashion choices. But by the end of their performance, they had stripped down to diapers.

Wadsworth was hooked.

“I just thought it was just such a good performance,” Wadsworth says. “You end up seeing the same people week after week, playing the same songs, and a lot of them I really love. But the Shy Boyz blew my fucking mind.”

Of the five friends she invited to the bar that night, one other friend liked the band. The other four were annoyed that Wadsworth tagged them in the videos of the show she shared online.

Wadsworth got to know the band over time and is contributing background vocals on two tracks for the band’s upcoming debut album. She says their antics may have gotten her attention but it’s the music that keeps her coming back.

Despite the wild stage shows, the Shy Boyz bristle at the suggestion that they are poking fun at anyone or that they are anything less genuine in their music than sad breakup ballads.

“We like to have fun,” King SoloMon says. “It’s all about pure entertainment. We put some humor in our music. People always say, ‘Your show was amazing, and you guys were actually good.’”

“Why can’t you be good and funny at the same time?” Airyon Love asks. “Why is that like breaking the rule?”

Not that Shy Boyz seem to have a problem breaking rules. Their show culminates with “Big Boy,” as it has since the open mic days. It’s a boastful rap that repeats, “I’m a big boy,” and it could easily have stopped at casual mockery. But Shy Boyz throw themselves into the performance (this is the point in their show when they strip down). It’s silly and fun and completely unexpected even if you know it’s coming.

For Love, performing the song is freeing. It’s a license to break the rules in a way that would probably get you arrested any other time, as he realized during one performance.

“I was on the floor in a pizza shop in Doylestown for an open mic night, screaming at the top of my lungs,” Love recalls, “and in my mind I was thinking, ‘This is the happiest I’ve ever been.’”

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