Fairy Kisses from Shooless
By Hannah Grace-Nott (she/her)
Genre-bending Tāmaki five-piece, Shooless have just released their first, eponymous EP. Hannah Grace-Nott details their unique performance style from the audience.
Nothing can surprise me at a Shooless performance. I’ve witnessed feather fedoras, cousins twerking, dresses being stitched side stage, nanas raving and a multitude of bare feet. I’ve heard vocals that transport me to a world where I’m rolling in a mushroom field, songs that leave me strutting out of the venue like I’m in Devil Wears, and lyrics that remind me of my mothers arms after my first heartbreak.
I most recently saw Shooless perform at Ponsonby’s Ahu, a venue dedicated to supporting artists of all mediums in Tāmaki Makaurau. Very few artists I have seen live break the fourth wall like Shooless. Their engagement with the audience has a unique confidence and authenticity. At their Ahu gig, they literally played on ground level, making every person in the room feel personally serenaded. Having had a front row seat for the establishment of Shooless and many a rehearsal in their crowded living room, I am always excited to witness the bands’ development and the energy they cultivate for their audience.
In the fast-paced, chaotic world we live in, it is rare to be completely still and silent. It is rare to stand alongside a grown man as he cries with tears of pride for the leader his daughter has grown into.
Having roomed with lead vocalists, Freya and Guy, I can attest there is not an inauthentic bone in their bodies. They’re transparent in the best way, reflected by how they acknowledge those who have travelled to see them play. Their performance returns the energy of the grinning faces mirroring them from beginning to end. This transparency was especially direct with Freya’s performance of ‘Fairy Kisses’, accompanied by lead guitarist, Locky and bassist, Will. In the fast-paced, chaotic world we live in, it is rare to be completely still and silent. It is rare to stand alongside a grown man as he cries with tears of pride for the leader his daughter has grown into. The ultimate ‘big sister’ lullaby full of lyrics each of us needed during our childhood and teens, ‘Fairy Kisses’ paralysed the room with honesty and vulnerability. Everyone held their breath because the vocals breathed for them.
If there’s one thing Shooless have mastered, it’s the bridge. This melodic break is often overlooked, but it has become their trademark - building a strong narrative and climax for every listener. This is most apparent in their tracks ‘Journey to Nazareth’, ‘Butter’ and ‘Skink Brain’. It’s clear that members of the group have spent many summers listening to live music in the open outdoors. Even in the smallest of rooms, a Shooless bridge creates this breadth of space for the audience to be drawn into the instrumentals in whatever way comes naturally, all the while craving the return to the melody. Shooless certainly ‘let ‘em cook’.
Synergy is when an interaction gives way to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. And the synergy within Shooless is unparalleled - whether it be the locking of eyes between drummer, Jordan and bassist, Will, as they effortlessly change tempo, or Locky’s shared heartbeat with the vocalists’, allowing them to draw out certain notes. These depths can’t be rehearsed, but are instead reactive from momentary energy. Every few bars is a trust fall, and they play for each other as much as they play for their audience.
This is a band that has done their research. Every song has a narrative, and every note has intention. If Weyes Blood, King Krule, Fleetwood Mac and Al Green had a love child, it would be Shooless. Although I don’t play any instruments myself to do justice to the madness, creativity and precision of Locky, Will, Jordan, Guy and Freya, I feel there is nothing in this world more important than storytelling. And that is what Shooless does best.