The Best Shortest Little Punk Pop Show Was Growly And Preppy And It’s Too Bad You Missed It

Shannon’s set list and Shopping frontperson Rachel Aggs’ guitar pick.

Review by Katherine Long

The Columbus Theater’s upstairs venue has awful sound quality -- perhaps good enough for high-quality Swedish pornos, but totally unable to handle the heaping helping of kick-ass doled out on the reg by the artists who play there.

So it was too for Shannon and the Clams on October 18. The Oakland band is something of an institution among today’s retrophilic youth. Their aesthetic is homemade 1950’s pop blended with a good amount of growl, mean punky spirit and sheer play -- a white bread American Dream, minus the white bread and plus a lot of sass and sex appeal. This is a band you love to watch. This is a band you fall in love with.

Every song was a kitschy little jewel in a kitschy little jewelry box, from “Sleep Talk” (growly Shannon!) to “Oh Louie” (swingy Shannon!) to “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers” (doo-wop-y Shannon!). And like jewels, they were tiny: The entire show clocked in at just over 45 minutes, including the encore.

Openers Shopping, touring with the Clams as the latter promote their new album Gone by the Dawn, hail from London and they are the dang cutest three-piece athletic socks-and-short-shorts-wearing DIY punk band I have ever had the joy to see. In a paean to the Providence music scene, frontperson Rachel Aggs was sporting a Downtown Boys t-shirt. I wanted to kiss them all on their unkempt heads and send them back to prep school. They wanted to whip the crowd into a seething frenzy. We met in the middle.

Shannon + Clams were the main course of the night’s overall DIY aesthetic. They did things like come onstage in shiny orange capes and head-bang and roll their eyes and stick their long tongues out. They also did things like drink Pelly by the liter and wear gingham and aprons and loafers and dance those funny little 1950s dances involving long poses and small ankle movements. Their cover art looks like the editor of a Lisa Frank zine’s bad acid trip.

Cody Blanchard on guitar stole the show when he and his helium-inspired voice took lead vocals for “It’s Not Too Late,” “Telling Myself,” and “You Can Come Over.” “How Long,” off Gone by the Dawn, was an undersea Lovecraftian elegy -- incidentally, Blanchard has cited Lovecraft as an influence (Hi Cody; welcome to Providence). Lose yourself in Shannon and the Clams; lose yourself in a dark diorama of an uncut American Dream.