Sharkmuffin – Live at Shea Stadium – 8/7/15 (Pictorial Review, Live Video)
by Steven Spoerl
Sharkmuffin’s release show party for Chartreuse at Shea Stadium was the kind of show that’s worth circling multiple times on a calendar. Easily my most anticipated of the month, it didn’t disappoint. A stacked five-band bill was kickstarted by a strong set from the emergent Fruit&Flowers, who delivered their wild-eyed basement pop with a lot of psych’ed out post-punk flourishes and an emphatic punch. Boytoy- who released one of last year’s finest debut EP’s– followed suit with a riff-happy, surf-heavy angle on a similar approach. Fuzzy, sunny, and surprisingly atmospheric, the trio managed to impress on their own terms and set site favorites Lost Boy ? up perfectly.
Lost Boy ?, as they always have, brought an outsize outsider charisma to the proceedings and kicked things into high gear almost as soon as they hit the stage. The band’s extraordinary Canned would have been at the absolute peak of last year’s special releases list had it been streaming anywhere ahead of its official vinyl release in 2015 but it was kept off the internet until that moment came. Even though about a year’s elapsed between the record’s original release, Canned still feels unbelievably vibrant thanks to the explosive energy that permeates throughout literally every song on the collection. That ragged ferocity is, unsurprisingly, amplified in the live setting and nearly every song the band played felt like a giddy exclamation mark. Celebratory and occasionally punishing, it was the adrenaline jolt that made sure things kept going strong after the midway point.
Even in the seemingly impossible scenario where Lost Boy ? had faltered, the evening would’ve been easily rescued by another site favorite- Charly Bliss. Soft Serve topped this site’s best-of EP list in 2014 (incidentally, Lost Boy ? secured the 11 slot) and whenever their LP finally secures its official release, it’s not a stretch to imagine it’ll wind up securing the Album of the Year distinction or something remarkably close. I’ve been desperately searching for something I don’t like about Charly Bliss for over a year and I still can’t find anything. The band’s a powerhouse in the studio, an absolute force on stage, and they’re penning some of the best music being released today. I’ve come to accept that they’re one of my absolute favorite bands and with every set I take in, that declaration’s getting closer to shedding the “one of” and simply becoming “my favorite band.” Unsurprisingly, their set here was monstrous and left a tall order for Sharkmuffin.
To their credit, Sharkmuffin kept the evening going even stronger with a deeply impassioned set that saw the band play every cut from their excellent Chartreuse, one of 2015’s finest releases. Playing as a quartet with Lost Boy ?’s Davey Jones giving an assist on guitar, the band’s set took on several different modes with a finessed aplomb. Coy, vicious, and carefree, the band shifted their focus at will and whipped an adoring audience into frenzy after frenzy with an incredible amount of ease. Alternating between poise and recklessness, then somehow managing to bridge the gap, Sharkmuffin tore up Shea Stadium and more than earned their encore. It was the final stage of a progression that started with foot-tapping (Fruit&Flowers), head-nodding (Boytoy), headbanging (Lost Boy ?), pogo-dancing (Charly Bliss), and- finally- moshing (Sharkmuffin themselves). Combining seemingly every single one of those stages with their last two songs, the band left the stage exhausted and smiling and the audience couldn’t help themselves from exiting the venue in the exact same fashion.
Click over to the full photo gallery of the show here and watch some of the evening’s performances in the video below.