At first blush this 21-year old, Las Vegas native seems like he’d have a fan base that is intensely young, hip, fresh-faced high schoolers. Pounding out artistically catchy electro-pop earworms, Shamir played an “all-ages” show at Toronto’s Mod Club on November 20th – one that I had the privilege to attend.
I had expected to be the old man in the crowd. The only dude over the age of 25 in the ‘alcohol permitted’ section, dancing, drinking $7 Pilsner’s, separated by nothing but a wristband and a security guard while pre-drunk teens bounce around on the other side of the club. Wow! Was I ever mistaken.
Somehow kids mixed in with salt-and-pepper hair-dos and moms out for their first night out in a really long time. I had completely underestimated the reach and the insane likability of Shamirs music and character.
Galvanizing the group together, Shamir took the stage with his band (consisting of an amazing gospel drummer, a talented keyboard-synth player, and a backing vocalist with a voice modulator) and blew the audience away in the way he produced positive vibes. Hits like ‘On The Regular’ and ‘Call It Off’ brought the crowd to a roar upon the first couple of bars and I was completely taken aback by Shmair’s almost universal positivity.
Musically, Shamir – a natural countertenor – relies on roots in gospel, R&B, and hip-hop, a fuck-you attitude taken from his high school punk bands and hard driving synth-pop that gains comparisons of a teenaged Michael Jackson (honestly, without the dance moves). Of course, the most interesting and compelling part of his performances is Shamir’s androgynous countertenor. Almost Prince-ish, it is truly his own voice, but when watching him singing you can tell he’s trying to channel the spirit of a Beyonce or even Janis Joplin. “It’s nor feminine, it’s not masculine,” Shamir said to Radio.com, “It’s a happy medium … I feel like if the world was more like that, our problems would be gone.”
Maybe that’s where my own biases about his music was based in. “How could anyone older than me even approach this?” This music isn’t young, it isn’t old, it’s a happy medium.. and it’s fun as all hell.