Tom Helgerson is trying to blow your mind.
We can't tell you where, or when, or with whom, lest we find ourselves on the wrong end of a whupping stick.
You'll just have to take our word for it-- Shahs, the solo music project of Tom Helgerson, is primed to be among the very most intrepid and inventive live acts these burgs offer.
We know, we know-- modern mores insist that we make mention of tonight's Beyonce show. In fact, we are probably running afoul of some great and terrible law by using up bandwidth on anything unrelated to Beyonce.But we can't help it. Whatever happens tonight at the Target Center (and we'll be there), it'll be running up against a hard wall-- last night, Shahs, which is, if you breezed past this blog's front page, the name for Helgerson's solo project, played before a crowd a dozen strong.
It doesn't sound like many people-- and it wasn't. For the show's preceding hours, which included Tender Meat and Pet.S, the house was packed, and by the time Shahs took the stage, it was 1:45 A.M. and the crowd was understandably fatigued by 2 local openers and a touring act.
But the few who remained were treated to an absolutely jawdropping set. On a Yamaha three-octave keyboard and a delay pedal, Helgerson crafted soundscapes so nuanced, so immediately appealing, and so complex that the meager crowd was nearly too paralyzed to clap along. Nearly. Beatboxing, fingering basslines that repeated into abstraction, yelping delayed vocals through the house mic, Helgerson's entire show was a work of real-time composition, as arresting to behold as it was to hear.
There is, particularly in this music scene, a close communion between the danceably noisy and the strictly noise. Skoal Kodiak, Slapping Purses, Gay Witch Abortion-- these are bands that test the very theory of what is and is not catchy, what does and does not set toes tapping and asses shaking.
Shahs, on the other hand, is an ambush upon old pop music tropes-- a beatboxed Billie Jean beat, perfectly in time, but corroded through a mixer and a pedal, until it's as fearsome as anything to burst off of NIN's Broken. A Yamaha Keyboard bassline so lonesome and remote, it could make Kid A glower with envy. Vocals so unfathomable and viscerally engaging it makes your arm hair stand on end.
There are more shows forthcoming. Also forthcoming? A review of Shahs' demo CD Divine Interest (which dropped last night) as soon as our brains descramble.
Cross your fingers, readers, that Shahs stick around longer in their second incarnation than they did in their first-- this time around, Shahs are near immaculate. Your ears deserve it.