Unknown Mortal Orchestra curated a free show in Chicago at the House of Vans. If you haven’t had a chance to catch one of these shows, take everyone’s advice who has ever been and DO IT. Not only do they always have a great lineup, but they are always free and serve free beer all night courtesy of Goose Island! True Blue was the first headliner, followed by Las Vegas native Shamir, and the night ended with a rowdy set by Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
Before the show began, I was able to meet up with Shamir right after their soundcheck. Although this wasn’t their first time playing in Chicago (they played Pitchfork twice), they were excited to be back in the city, particularly because of Nando’s chicken.
Just a few months ago, Shamir released an entire album for free on their bandcamp. In the past two years, Shamir parted with their record label and released two full-length LPs…for free. Shamir’s two most recent LPs have a very different sound from their older two. On the new one, Shamir focuses a lot more on their melodic vocals and stripped-down guitar. Their first album, titled “Rachet” and recorded in-studio on a record label, could be classified as electronic-pop with mixed beats. I would describe it as an album to listen to while you’re gearing up for a night out on the town.
When I asked what accounted for their change in genre, Shamir opened up. Over a year ago, Shamir was diagnosed with a mental illness and spent a week in in-patient care in a psychiatric ward. During that time and months thereafter, Shamir went through a lot of changes. They discovered a lot about themselves, and a lot about the relationships around them. After being released from the hospital, Shamir felt like a new person. They wrote and recorded “Hope” in the span of two days. “’Hope’ was just that. It was a way of giving me hope.” When they first came out of the hospital, Shamir grappled with the idea of giving up music, but “Hope” saved that. The title of the rest of their albums, “Revelation” and “Resolution” follow the same emotional theme. For Shamir, each album stays true to their title. Revelation was a project right after Hope where Shamir realized they didn’t have to give up music.
“Resolution,” Shamir’s most recent album came out in March. This project was the resolution of the last year and a half that Shamir went through. Since the album release, Shamir has been on tour and even got the chance to play this year’s SXSW Festival.
Shamir isn’t sure what their next move is, but they are continuing to tour and stay inspired.
Photo courtesy of @DanielBoczarski