Concert Photography: The Shelters at Express Live!
Words and photos by David Powers. Do not use without permission.
I recently found The Shelters through a circuitous Spotify “related artists” chain, which is an ignominious way to discover one of the most enjoyable vintage-tinged rock bands in recent memory.
To be clear, I wasn’t entirely sold on the band’s full length. The influences of 70’s west coast “easy rider” rock and roll, mixed with Wolfmother-esque guitar licks and late-60’s Beatle’s vocal arrangements felt like an odd marriage to come about in 2017.
Armed with these opinions and a camera, I entered Express LIVE! on Saturday, March 25th and promptly had my expectations demolished.
With an emphasis on high energy presentation and guitar heavy, back track-free rock and roll, The Shelters presented a genuine, enjoyable, and energetic if not intimate presentation, rolling through about a half dozen songs and a cover. Chase Simpson and Josh Jove share duties as lead vocalists and lead guitarists, employing both natural chemistry and an aggressive twin-guitar attack. Jacob Pillot on bass offered strong back-up vocals and a solid bottom end, propelled by Sebastian Harris on drums- who, mostly hidden in a shadowy backline, held metronome-like provisions and southern-styled grooves with equal gravitas. Chase and Josh alternately referenced the Columbus audience, labeling them “Columbians,” a bit of a stretch. But their banter was merely a mechanism to propel the show forward. And propel it did.
Their most well known and currently-in-radio-rotation single, Rebel Heart, is a classic blues rocker with the composition of Steppenwolf and the tonality of early The Strokes. It fell near the end of the set, and though the audience was more interested in dancing and enjoying the general vibe the rest of the time, people engaged and even sang along to the familiar.
A personal favorite moment for me was the extended and jammy live performance of The Ghost is Gone, a vibey, Doors-like psych rock anthem that seems to lyrically examine authority structures and the human propensity to place hope in God or governement or other structures which ultimately are futile. The CD102.5 crowd’s attention waned this late in the show and this close to the last band, but I was thoroughly enthralled by the tightly responsive interplay of the 4-piece on stage.
No true vintage-styled rock show would be completely without a final song climaxing in a cacophony of cymbal hits and percussive, ringing root power chords- and true to form, the Shelters delivered. From start to finish it was a tight, straightforward set that I’d gladly watch again.