Club Violanie at Roberto's, Chinatown

By Ryan Ward

Every third Saturday of the month, Roberto's in Chinatown becomes Club Violaine and opens their doors in tribute to pre-grunge era shoegaze giants. This past Saturday the honorees were the beloved and astronomically influential Stone Roses.

Surprisingly headliners Shields' were the first to resurrect the Roses' chords, in their swaying cover of “(Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister.” The foursome have been corralling quite an ample fan-base (though they like to refer to them as 'friends') and it's no wonder. The positive energy they activate between each other and the audience is quite refreshing.

A liquid fuzz-fest a la My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, their songs manage to capture all of the loud, mod psychedelia of those post-wave, late-eighties pop masterpieces. With hooks galore, the guitars and equally important vocals mesh that is seen very little on the indie/noise scene. In the song “Spin Out” the diving guitar harmony that opens the piece sets up the kind of rock drama that most bands seem to have have thrown out with the trash. Nor has Shields forgotten that there has to be a balance between the slow and the fast. The decibel level delivers too; as the fathers of beautiful eyes-to-the-ground song-craft taught. Can I be so brave as to coin the phrase “pretty loud?” Talk amongst yourselves.

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Lead vocalist/guitarist/writer Hector Alvarez sinks back into the sound like a subtle giant delivering the words forcefully, yet whispery. Guitarist Chris Romero adds the necessary meat to serve up the perfect density. Finding drummer Monica Mendoza amidst her controlled chaos, it seems as if there are two options: she's either going to bounce off the stage or end up changing drum heads after every song. However even in the midst of their march “Espionage” neither of those extremes occur– she secures the visual embodiment of the swirling energy of the music and is a ball to watch. And if you've never seen a 'whirlpool', a group of fans gathered in a communal hug spinning around in circle, a Shields show is where can find one of your own. Their foray into the art of the duet was debuted Saturday with Hector and Monica sharing vocals, tickling the Jesus and Mary Chain kitsch with the new song “Love Like You.”

So you may not have heard of Shields until now because they don't just fit right in (just like the Silversun Pickups didn't) and they don't play the trendy clubs and bars that have become so cliché. That should be a sign in itself. So catch them at Darklands Indie Festival Saturday, September 29th.

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