Impérial Bell (Festival d’été de Québec)
July 11, 2018
England may have been defeated by Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals just a couple hours prior, but that didn’t stop South London post-punk outfit Shame from a triumphant performance to kick off the evening’s festivities during Day 7 of Festival d’été de Québec. The annual summer music festival is an 11-day celebration of music with an impressive scope of programming that covers myriad genres at multiple venues throughout the city. No football game was going to get in the way of their fun on this balmy night at the beautiful and historic Imperial Theatre.
Shame made a stunning impression when first breaking out in Canada, performing at M for Montreal last November when they turned L’Escogriffe upside down with their raw and raucous stage performance. This was the band’s first time in Quebec City though and their fans were ready for them, singing along to all the words and rushing the stage with frontman Charlie Steen who was channeling both Mark E Smith and Ian Curtis at the same time. The difference between Shame and The Fall or Joy Division however is that this young band embodies a youthful millennial smarm that translates in an endearing and modern way.
It wasn’t more than three songs in to their set before Steen had his shirt off and he was introducing one of the band’s first singles, “One Rizla,” a track he admits to writing when they were first starting out at the young age of 16.
Understandably impressionable, the band riffs a lot on Ice Age with the recorded material heard on their breakout debut, Songs Of Praise, but their live show begs to differ. Where Ice Age oozes a sweaty pop-goth sex vibe, these boys are still thinking about all the beers waiting for them in the green room and they play like they’re working for them.
“I like you better when you’re not around,” Sheen is shouting on the track “Tasteless” as his bandmates behind him play with a raw energy that is so rarely captured.
When you get up super close to Shame you realIze how young they all really are. Kind of like when King Krule was first starting out, but instead of trippy blues inspired r&b, they’re playing firecracker punk rock.
Having been consistently on the road now for more than a year, the band was itching to play some new material. “Ok Quebec. Oui Oui Oui Oui,” Sheen remarks in between breaths. “We’re gonna play you a new song but we wrote it two weeks ago so go easy on us.” Shame didn’t hesitate to get right in the faces of their fans. The theatre may have been big but the performance couldn’t have been more up close and personal.
They ended their 40-minute set with the song “Gold Hole,” a defining song of the band’s all encompassing sound that manages to reel it in and explode at the seams all at once.
Shame are honing their craft as songwriters and performers as they go while still remaining youthful and gracious; an exercise in controlled chaos that has made this fringe act as commercially viable as they have become. And there’s no shame in that. COME ON ENGLAND!
• Glenn Alderson
Meanwhile… Somewhere further up the hill….