Hailing from Vegas, Shamir Bailey grew up as the "weird kid", the sore thumb in a busted hand of a city. Now, following the critical claim of his debut full length record, he stopped by Bowery Ballroom for an intimate performance.
Gender is over if you want it. That's the motto and wonder-kid Shamir is sticking to it. Serving up some downtown disco realness, the young pop star made his mark on New York City showcasing stunning vocals and a stellar band. Fusing electro-R&B with synth-pop majesty, his vocal range was equal parts Justin Vernon and Tunde Adebimpe. He earns his stripes with comparisons to Prince and Nina Simone, leveraging daring falsettos over beaming synths. It's honest to goodness pop music the embeds the richest indie-dance-punk nostalgia from the past fifteen years. His energy was present, but the show was somewhat hindered by his song order. Bangers "On the Regular" and "Call It Off" were slammin', igniting the crowd and pumping energy throughout the venue, but they were early on and left a lot to be desired later in the night. The set was varied, but yielded a ton of highlights and promise from the young star. Even though he seemed a little reserved and lackluster on stage, his songs pulled through and his vocal performance was absolutely uncanny. "Darker" was a showstopper and unleashed a raw talent that does not come through on record and annihilated the crowd. His composure was flawless, everything falling directly into place and the fluidity expressed onstage was momentous. Belting and crooning unlike any other, Bailey signaled to the potential of much greatness that could lie ahead. It was a rise to fame performance, the glitter before the gold. His fantasy queer-pop odyssey is refreshing, unique and brings forth a whole new idea of what the future of pop music has in store. Synths hit like lasers and while his confidence was not as direct, his intensions and drive to entertain was clear and forthright. Mainstream pop has suffered a long stream of heteronormalism that leaves much for desire. Given enough time, Shamir has enough to say and the talent to make the world listen.