The last time Shannon and the Clams came out this way, it was one of the hottest (if not the hottest) days of the summer. The air conditioning at the venue they were playing was broken, water was leaking from somewhere, and it was so hot our camera lenses fogged up regularly. The fans didn’t care, they packed the place anyway and rocked away all night long.
This is the nature of Shannon and the Clams fans— and come Monday, those fans will likely pack the show again when the forever-nostalgic band plays the Riot Room in Kansas City. “They’re really rowdy and really excited,” guitarist Cody Blanchard points out. Shannon Shaw interjects on their fans’ good nature. “They’re always really fucking sweet and genuine, and they wear glitter,” she says. “They seem like they’ve got a lot inside of them… I feel like if you were a really shitty person, I don’t think you’d like us.”
From their musical style to their fashion, Shannon and the Clams throws it back to the 50’s and 60’s hard. You’re likely to see bouffants, suspenders, and (as mentioned earlier) plenty of glitter. The band will also arrive in Kansas City with songs from Gone by the Dawn, an album released late last year. Although their recent SXSW set showed that this is still an upbeat band you can cut a rug with, the album signals a couple of changes for the band. First, Shaw called upon surviving a terrible breakup for the emotionally rich songs. “I was in full-on heartbreak crisis mode when we wrote and recorded it,” she admits. “I think that really had a hand in how things turned out.” The band also changed their game when they decided to drift away from their usual method and use a “real studio and producer,” as Blanchard points out. “We had engineers helping, and then we had a producer coming in and giving us advice.”
This is an interesting turn for the band, who have been seen as one of the beacons in the DIY community. But, the DIY scene can be a tough line to toe. Even Blanchard and Shaw had conflicting options on the DIY method. “I just feel like people shouldn’t be dogmatic about it. People are really dogmatic about DIY, they want to do everything,” Blanchard says. “I think there are a lot of things you should do yourself, but I think you can go way farther way faster if you have a really good record label, press agent, booking agent. People make their lives really hard when they try to do it themselves.”
Shaw felt more optimistic on the matter. “I think there’s a balance. I’m a huge supporter of the DIY community and I completely see the importance in being able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and earning every single thing,” she says. “I think that’s true creation, if you are the only thing that’s putting energy in.”
You can see the energy Shannon and the Clams puts into their shows when they play the Riot Room on Monday, March 28, with Gazebos and The Conquerors.
Words and photos by Fally Afani