I’m a sucker for new R&B music. When I heard KCRW play Shy Girls’ Shy Girls’ “Voyeur’s Gaze” on Morning Becomes Eclectic in 2013, I was hooked. When I saw that they were opening for a band named Phosphorescent, I immediately bought a ticket. I had no idea about the headlining act, but that didn’t matter. It had been close to a year since I saw them perform, and I was jonesing to see them perform again.
The performance was short, but it was everything that I anticipated: smooth vocals over a tight knit band playing music with an 80s and early 90s R&B vibe.
The first two times I saw Shy Girls perform live, they didn’t play the song that hooked me in the first place, “Voyeur’s Gaze”. When I had asked them about why didn’t perform that song since it was the song that KCRW decided to spin, they indicated that the arrangement was a bit too complex for them to play live. They remedied the omission this time around and it was, to my complete satisfaction, performed as a song in the middle of their set.
Apparently, I was the only one in the audience excited to hear the tune. Instinctually, I yelped out a very audible, “Yes,” when the opening vocals and keyboard chord progression were played. I got a few giggles from some of the audience members around me, and under my breath, but audible, I felt it necessary to qualify my blurt with, “Can’t help it, it’s my favorite song of theirs.”
I soon realized that the crowd wasn’t here to listen to Shy Girls smooth R&B jams. I further deduced that headlining act’s style of music was at the opposite side of the spectrum because if the audience wasn’t feeling what Shy Girls was putting forth on stage that night … well, they were here for something else.
And it’s a bit of a shame. Shy Girls is a Red Bull Sound Select artist. I would have thought that Red Bull, the host of the concert series, could have done a better job at procuring a line-up that was more consistent. I went to the Chet Faker 30 Days In LA show later in the month, and I can easily say that Shy Girls would have KILLED IT if they were one of the opening acts for that evening’s music. In fact, switching James Supercave from the Chet Faker night, with Shy Girls would have been my choice.
The highlight of the evening was when Shy Girls’ covered Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room” (a demo recording of which is above). It was simple and sublime. It was a performance of an R&B classic that anybody with an inkling of appreciation for type of R&B music would have loved. I just wish more people could have truly appreciated it.
VIDEOS: The Instagram videos that I uploaded somehow got corrupted. 😦
Does Red Bull have the keys to the future of the music industry? Only time will tell, but their business model is one that I think may trend positive for the foreseeable future.
Listed chronologically, the most recent show first.
Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide 2013 | Echo Park | 11/10/13 – 11/11/13 (Wooster, Tiny Ruins, Maya Vik, Iza, Medicine, Jacco Gardner, Gemini Club and Great White Buffalo)
The Beach Ball Festival: Soul Revue | Santa Monica Pier | September 21, 2013 (Myron & E, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Maceo Parker, Allen Stone and Aloe Blacc)
Lobster Festival | Port of Los Angeles | September 14, 2013 (The Section Quartet, Nightmare & The Cat, Deap Vally, Dead Sara)
FYF FEST | L.A. State Historic Park | August 24 and 25, 2013 (Mikal Cronin, Charles Bradley, The Breeders, Devendra Banhart, The Locust, Deerhunter, TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Orwells, Pional, How To Dress Well, No Age, !!! (ChkChkChk), Shlohmo, MGMT, Solange, and Holy Ghost!)
Ink-N-Iron Festival | Queen Mary | June 8, 2013 (Girl in a Coma, Hopeless Jack & the Handsome Devil, Kaleigh Baker, The Fleshtones, Dead Kennedys and Iggy and the Stooges)
Make Music Pasadena 2013 | June 1, 2013 (The Record Company, The Peach Kings, YACHT, Robert DeLong, Youngblood Hawke, Haunted Summer and The Likes of Us)
Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Friday (Of Monsters and Men, Passion Pit, Palma Violets, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jurassic 5, Stone Roses and How To Destroy Angels)
Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Saturday (Ben Howard, Pucifer, Violent Femmes, Grizzly Bear, Postal Service, Franz Ferdinand and Phoenix)
Coachella 2013 | April 12-14 | Sunday (Alex Clare, Rodriguez, Vampire Weekend, Nick Cave, Wu-Tang Clan and Red Hot Chili Peppers)
I was driving around town while listening to KCRW when the silky vocals and opening keyboard chord progression of a smooth jam gently flowed through my car’s speaker circuits. A rhythm guitar stealthily crept in, sweeping into a late 80’s, early 90’s, drum program with a subtle flourish line added to the chords that caught my attention. I know it’s dangerous to fiddle with your phone while driving, but I had to open up Shazam to find out who the artist was. It was Shy Girls and the track was “Voyeurs Gaze”. A throwback to the smooth R&B I grew up with.
When I got home, I immediately got online to listen to more tracks by Shy Girls. After listening to tracks from their latest EP “Timeshare”, I pulled out my credit card and purchased the LP. I’m selective about the vinyl that I buy, only purchasing records that I could let the pin drop and let play without having to get back up to skip tracks. For me, “Timeshare” was one of those albums.
After finding the artist’s Facebook page, I noticed that they had two scheduled performances the following week in Los Angeles, one at the Spare Room and the other at the Bootleg Bar. Being that the artist was from Portland, Oregon, I decided that this may be my only chance to see them perform for a while, so I planned on attending both shows.
I had a feeling that the shows would have been perfect for a date with a significant other, but c’est la vie en Los Angeles. The music is sensual. Being single, and living in Los Angeles (where convincing people that the music you like is in fact good is like pulling teeth), I’ll admit that I had second thoughts at the idea of going solo. I shrugged it off.
I was right. On both nights, Dan Vidmar and his band brought a mood I haven’t heard at a concert since I saw at Maxwell at the Hollywood Bowl. Like Maxwell, Dan Vidmar made good use of his breathy, falsetto singing engaging the audience to willingly become seduced. If I were at the show with a date, I would have made my move after the first song.
If “Timeshare” is the precursor to a full length album, there’s a lot for me to look forward to, and hopefully, by the time he goes on tour to support that album, I’ll have a date for the show.
The lighting in the venues was extremely difficult to deal with, but I did what I could. Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not currently available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos.