A crowd of tattooed millennials, Generation Zers and a sparse handful of boomers surrounded the stage at Hotel Congress on Tuesday, Oct. 4 to listen to the sounds of the Viagra Boys and their openers, Shame and Kills Birds. While the headlining act was the band Viagra Boys, one of their openers, Shame, a post-punk band from South London, held their own in front of a crowd waiting for a spectacle: one that Shame full-heartedly delivered.
Around 8:30 p.m. the first opener, Kills Birds — another punkish band from California — exited the stage, and the five members of Shame ascended four feet onto the stage, looking for all the world like young accountants following in the footsteps of their fathers. Clad in button downs and slacks, Shame did not approach the audience with the deep eyeliner, ripped clothing and piercings that typically adorn musicians in the punk genre. Yet, Shame owned their normalcy, almost challenging the audience to not be entertained.
Their slot was almost immediately dominated by a thumping bass that rang in songs from their latest album, Drunk Tank Pink. The harsh words of “Nigel Hitler” and “Water in the Well” could just be heard through the barrage of noise that smacked the audience from speakers suspended above the stage, but during their set words didn’t seem to matter.
The show felt less like a concert and more of a spectacle of shockingly provocative entertainment. Within the first three songs — just a few minutes south of 9 p.m. — Shame’s lead singer, Eddie Green, climbed on top of the shoulders of a few unfortunate and unsuspecting audience members, lording over the pit of viewers like a king beholding a crowd only partially swayed by him. He eyed the fans as if we were simply slabs of meat ready to be devoured, and devour he did.
As “Alphabet” and “Snow” played, a rapt audience was held captive by an increasingly sweaty and half-naked band that had abandoned their button downs long before. Shame moved their subjects with every beat, every dead-eyed stare that we just couldn’t look away from. Green spent a considerable amount of time crowd surfing on the hands of viewers who had not previously been privy to his music or even his name but would remember Shame after that night.
Green was not the only one putting his heart and soul on display. Guitarist Josh Finerty ran across the stage with the fervor of a little boy high on sugar. It was electric, if a bit farcical. Shame put on a show that seared into my brain with its arrogance and inflated sense of self-grandeur, but in a completely bizarre and slightly unhinged way, it worked.
Shame was not a band I would have paid attention to before their appearance at Hotel Congress, but they are a band I will pay attention to now. Their album, Drunk Tank Pink, is out now on streaming platforms everywhere.
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Sophie Applin is the current Opinions Editor for the Daily Wildcat. She enjoys reading, writing and having strong opinions.