Originally published in the CJLO Magazine.
When I walked into Il Motore, the venue smelled like sea food. I wondered if had I mistakenly entered a restaurant, or could it have been the rainy weather coming in from outside? Or was it Oakland, California trio Shannon and the Clams, who were on stage setting up for the show? It really did smell like seafood! I'm not making this up! I quite enjoyed the coincidence, to be honest, as it contributed to the room's atmosphere. Mmmmm... good music and yummy sea food.
Sound check was quite the ordeal for them, as both Shannon Shaw and Cody Blanchard got painful shocks on the lips from the un-grounded microphones. That problem seemed to have fixed itself, but it took a little bit for the band to really get going since they couldn't hear anything through the monitors. Shannon also commented that the people on the floor were just sort of standing there, staring, not doing anything. Yeah, typical. Welcome to Montreal. I felt kind of bad at that moment, because Shannon and the Clams were really freaking great.
I love their unique take on the garage genre. Their music is grimy and raw, and draws its inspiration from '60s rhythm and blues, Cry Baby, and Sha Na Na. This is the type of doo-wop I imagine the kids would have danced to at senior proms all over the United States back in the day—after drinking some spiked punch, of course. Shannon has some mad style, too. Like a punk rock waitress. She wore an apron, played her bass guitar different from anyone I've seen perform in the past, and sang with a surly voice. Cody's voice has an in-tune but hoarse quality to it as well (kind of like a male Stevie Nicks), and they did an amazing job at sharing and taking the lead as singers.
I'll tell ya, though, things got real after Shannon asked for the lights to be dimmed a little lower. The crowd started twisting and shaking to tracks like "Troublemaker" from their debut I Wanna Go Home, "Done with You" from their sophomore album Sleep Talk, and plenty of new songs from their latest Dreams in the Rat House. Finally. People were participating in having fun!
I've said in the past that the audience is an integral part of what makes a show great, and it was nice that the kids at Il Motore finally stopped posing and started dancing.
--Stephanie Dee hosts "Twee Time" and "Champions of the Local Scene" every week on CJLO! Follow @tweegirl on Twitter.