From Apple ads on our televisions to the intimate stage at Great Scott, D.C. pop trio SHAED sold out the tiny venue weeks in advance.
With "Trampoline" blowing up since since its Apple sync last fall, the chance to see the group at a venue so small felt like a precious, intimate secret. After all, Great Scott only holds about 250 people. Next time SHAED visits Boston, the venue and stage will likely be several times larger.
For those new to SHAED, the group consists of singer Chelsea Lee flanked by twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst. On stage, Spencer and Max trade instruments (keys, electronic drum pads, bass, or guitar), and stage positions often. Backing tracks and vocal effects fill out their sound, helping to recreate their studio efforts.
Chelsea Lee sounds smooth and velvety over the Ernst's airy, dreamy beats. The closest comparison I can manage is synthpop duo MS MR, but more rhythmic and minimalist. SHAED reflect influences that to me are more R&B than alternative. "You Got Me Like" feels like a Babyface-produced 90's slow jam in the best way. And how Chelsea opens up her pipes a bit on the slinky, sultury "Melt" and the epic, slow-building "Lonesome" gives chills. "Keep Calling" received a similar acoustic rework to how the band played it in Studio 92.9 (video coming soon) and killer vocal harmonies from the Ernst brothers.
Opener JP Saxe also epitomized the secrecy vibe of the intimate show. The Toronto solo act performs on either keys or guitar and sings with a sultry James Blake vibe, sometimes opting for a soulful falsetto. He charmingly and self-deprecatingly cycles through nakedly confessional songs about breakup and love. From what I could hear over the people chatting with their friends, anyway. Don't get me wrong - he opened a pop show. Of course some people would be talking over him. And I can't say I observed any overly obnoxious behavior. Most people talking during the set remained at the venue's rear. But JP Saxe flexes his talent relatively quietly compared to most dive bar performers. Hopefully he's destined for seated theaters where concertgoers are quieter - even for opening acts.