Amy Shark - Doug Fir - 6/17/17
Australia's Amy Shark graced the stage at Doug Fir on June 17, playing to a small, intimate crowd full of folks who were mostly unfamiliar with the new artist. This is to be expected, as she has only one official EP (Night Thinker) and a single out on the main music streaming services - but for those of us who do our homework when it comes to new artists, we received a treat - in the form of a truly humble, beautiful performance by a rising star from the Australian beach town of Gold Coast, Queensland.
The night began several hours before she came on stage, with a fun, personable interview with Amy which you can expect to see on Sonically Awkward in the next week. She had several promo runs to do earlier in the day, including a performance at the Skype Live Studios in Downtown Portland. Needless to say it was a busy, full day before she even got on stage Saturday night at Doug Fir.
When Amy came on stage at 10pm, the exhaustion was nowhere to be seen. As she started off the set with one of my personal favorite tracks 'Drive You Mad', we got the sense early on that her booming, unique voice was not at all affected by the extensive touring she had done leading up to this show, one of the last on her current tour. Amy was joined on stage by a drummer only, helping bring the intimate, basement show setting that us Portlanders love. Amy's set didn't stop when the songs did - her banter in between was humorous, well received, and showed the crowd her personality. After the first track, she thanked the crowd for being there and introduced herself; "I'm Amy Shark, and I'm from out of town." Her wonderful Aussie accent sent a rumble of giggles throughout the crowd, and gave us a hint of what was to come the rest of the evening.
She followed this up with 'Home' before moving onto another personal favorite off Night Thinker EP 'Weekends', and featured Amy picking up and plucking the guitar for the first time during the set. She continued with hit 'Spits on Girls' and 'Golden Fleece', which featured sprawling, encompassing synths. Amy then gave us a little bit of backstory about the next song 'Blood Brothers'; "I wrote this song about someone I put in the friend zone, and then how it magically broke at a party one night." A song that most certainly hit some people harder than others in the crowd, for different reasons.
'Middle of the Night' came next, as described by Amy; "This is the most depressing track I've ever written. Grab a shot, or whatever it is you have to do to get through this song." The part of the night which was without a doubt most unexpected was Amy covering Eminem's 'Superman' - what a moment that was. She showed off her vocals near the end of the track, blowing away any preconceived notions that her voice was limited to a slower, more refined pace. Amy finished off the evening with her biggest hit thus far in 'Adore', and this seemed to be the moment most downstairs were waiting for. She prefaced it with a suggestion; "If you got someone close to you here tonight, hold them close, give them a smooch - this is 'Adore'." Dozens of phones came out to record the chorus as she sang; "Get me a drink I get drunk off one sip / Just so I can adore you / I want the entire street out of town / Just so I can be alone with you / Now go when your ready my heads / Getting heavy pressed against your arm / I adore you."
Amy may be a new, on the rise artist still working on getting her name out to the masses, but that doesn't mean she is still working on her live performance. It is finely polished, with humor, banter, and stories behind the making of the songs squeezed in between tracks. The rest of 2017 looks busy for Amy - from opening up for Sia in Australia to working on her debut album. She is someone to keep an eye on - in 2017 and for the future beyond.