Shame Brought Emotional Punk to Brooklyn

Shame is a useful emotion. It keeps people from being assholes all the time. And like the emotion they’re named after, Shame the U.K. punk band also prevents acting like an asshole.

It was night two for Shame in Brooklyn, NY and the eve of a 5 a.m. flight to Austin, TX to play Austin City Limits. You can’t slow down with a tight schedule like that or you’ll lose momentum. So these guys gave it their all and made sure to show Music Hall of Williamsburg the wildest time.

Shame’s sound is what I like to call “emotional punk.” Their songs are quick and riotous like the classic punk rock song-setup that makes you wanna toss yourself around. But Shame isn’t about screaming fuck you to society. They seem to have faith in humanity. They want people to love themselves and each other. To get people to listen, they hit each note with fiery gusto and sing every lyric with vigorous passion.

And every punker in the venue was ready to get emotional.

Public Practice, a new but already beloved art school/post-punk group with members from NYC’s Beverly started the show. Do yourself a favor and check these guys out soon. Their live shows will hit you like a comet. Frontwoman Samantha York pairs bright eyes that stare right through you with ‘60s-style go-go dancer moves. It’s impossible to look away or not sway along.

Bodega, the second band of the night, is another current NYC favorite. Unfortunately, they didn’t play the song that had been stuck in my head all day, “Jack in Titanic,” but they still shredded. Once I heard their opener, “Name Escape,” I knew I’d leave the show with another Bodega song I couldn’t shake even if I wanted to.

Bodega frontman Ben Hozie held out the mic towards the crowd and had everyone chanting along with him. “This is where Nikki and I first met,” he says between songs about fellow band member and girlfriend Nikki Belfiglio. They exchanged loving looks before diving headfirst into their next thrasher.

The crowd was thoroughly warmed up—in fact, they were red hot. As Shame struck their first note, frontman Charlie Steen leapt into the crowd. When the band is already crowd surfing in the first song you know you’re in for a wild night.

Steen laid down two rules for the night: Everybody had to dance like crazy and they had to take care of each other while doing so. “We will not tolerate any aggression,” he shouted into the mic. Though they don’t tolerate it, everyone was still able to get out a little aggression by respectfully shoving each other around and lifting each other up into the air. And that, my friends, is how a punk show should go down. Moshing and crowd surfing is not an excuse to punch a stranger or grope an innocent bystander.

People hopped on stage to dive into the wave of pogoing people while Shame rocked out tracks from their newest album Songs of Praise. Shame bassist Josh Finerty did backflips on stage and leapt off the kick drum while keeping the beat as Sheen walked over the crowd like Jesus on water.

At the end of the night, the green rooms were overflowing with musicians and friends sharing whiskey and beers. The party eventually moved on to the bar across the street where everyone celebrated the show with shots of tequila and chain-smoking cigarettes out front. The night ended with the conundrum of deciding whether to stay up all night and go straight to the airport or try and get a wink of sleep.

I headed home, so I’m not sure how Shame decided to handle the run-up to their flight, but they made it to Austin City Limits, so whatever they did must have worked out. They’ve still got some U.S. dates left on this tour. It would be a shame if you missed them.

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