Concert preview: Shame at Spacebar

Andy Downing

Shame guitarist Eddie Green experienced his “welcome to Los Angeles” moment shortly after the band's flight from Australia touched down in California.

“I just paid $14 for a wrap,” Green deadpanned via phone in mid-February, “so I'm definitely in L.A.”

While it's not the British musician's first time in the States — he said he's visited family in the Bay Area in the past — the bandmates in Shame have only recently started to acclimate themselves to tour life in America, where their profile is still a bit lower than in the U.K. This can mean playing to sparser-than-usual crowds in smaller-than-expected venues and gigs connected by endless stretches of highway dotted with depressingly similar landmarks.

“The first time [we toured the U.S.] … I was expecting it to be freeways and McDonald's and gun ranges,” Green said. “And, sure enough, we got in and it was mostly that.”

While unimpressed with road-dining options, to this point, the guitarist remained nonplussed by the idea of playing to smaller crowds, saying it reminds him of the early days in Shame when the five bandmates tirelessly worked the South London pub scene, often playing as many as three or four times a week to middling audiences.

“It's really refreshing to come to a new place and have that feeling of having to win people over again,” said Green, who joins his bandmates in concert at Spacebar on Saturday, Feb. 24. “That's something I actually really enjoy, being in music. It's an exciting feeling getting back to that stage.”

It's also an issue that might not come into play. The day after landing in Los Angeles, Shame performed a sold-out concert at the Echo, and the stateside buzz surrounding the band has grown nearly as loud as the brash guitars churning through the quintet's agitated, Fall-indebted debut,Songs of Praise.

The curled fist of an album contains far more than the unchecked, cathartic outpourings of angry young white men, however, bolstered by a strong self-lacerating streak — “My nails ain't manicured/My voice ain't the best you've heard,” howls singer Charlie Steen on “One Rizla” — a sharply realized sense of humor and a belief that music, if delivered with the requisite passion, can even cut through the nonsense of modern politics. “In a time of such injustice,” Steen barks on “Friction,” “how can you not want to be heard?”

“Well, the thing is, the record is kind of … putting into words what we've been around and what we've been feeling the last four or five years growing up in London, being a teenager,” Green said. “I wouldn't call us a political band by any stretch, but a lot of the songs, by their nature, are going to be political because it's a lot of discussing the things we see around us. You can't ignore it.”


8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24

2590 N. High St., Old North

ALSO PLAYING: The Gotobeds, Kizzy Hall, The Roof Dogs