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Five thoughts: Shamir at the Bunkhouse (February 23)

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Shamir, performing August 23 at the Bunkhouse Saloon.
Photo: Leslie Ventura

1. Vegas native Shamir Bailey was only 19 when he recorded his first EP, Northtown, garnering international attention practically overnight. But the singer moved to Philadelphia before he ever topped a Downtown Vegas bill, and he vowed he wouldn’t stage a 21-and-over show here until all of his friends were old enough to attend. He stuck to that promise, and the wait served everyone well. Shamir, now 23, traded the pop and house stylings that made him famous for the music that he grew up writing: pared-down, DIY punk with sweet, poppy melodies, and that’s exactly what we got at his first-ever Vegas headlining gig on Friday night.

2. High school friend Christina Thompson accompanied Shamir from 2011 to 2013 in the duo Anorexia (anorexia.bandcamp.com), and she’s also the bassist with whom he performs today. The pair’s musical chemistry is perfect, allowing the material from Shamir’s latest record, Revelations, and the Soundcloud-exclusive Hope to come alive. Fuzzed-out, tug-on-your-heartstrings bedroom-pop spilled across the stage, comparable to ’90s indie bands like Helium and Cub.

3. “I wrote a song about someone I hate so much, but I hate them so much I don’t want them to know,” Shamir said before playing “You Have a Song,” a track he wrote at his aunt’s house here in Las Vegas. “A lot of these songs were written out here." Throughout the evening, Shamir proved he’s one of the best things to have come from this city in a long while—a singer and songwriter with a goosebump-inducing vocal range, a disarming stage presence, heartbreaking and relatable lyrics, and a punk-as-f*ck guitar style.

4. Nearly every song in Shamir’s setlist was a gem, but three specifically stood out: most recent single “Room,” the pop-tinged “90’s Kid” and the vividly poignant “Straight Boy”—three heartfelt anthems that navigate depression, the millennial experience and relationships with raw, earnest abandon.

5. “’You all bad and punk until you have to sing a song that repeats ‘I f*cking hate you’ the whole time in front of both sides of your family,” Shamir hilariously tweeted after his show. But no amount of F-bombs was going to keep anyone in the audience from showing their love and support. That’s because, whether he’s from Las Vegas or not, Shamir is exactly the kind of voice our generation needs. Tender, brutally honest and consistently drawn to taking risks, Shamir is redefining the trajectory of indie and DIY music, and for that we couldn’t be more proud.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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