Live Review: Shy Girls with P. Morris at Barboza 5/28/15

Local Music, Live Reviews
06/04/2015
Gerrit Feenstra
all photos by Dave Lichterman

Something felt different in the Neumos basement last week as the crowd packed in to see Shy Girls. The Portland electronic act, led by Dan Vidmar, has been around for a couple years, dropping lush EPs including the lauded Timeshare, making earnest love songs for the introspective bedroom-ridden listener. But the crowd tonight wasn’t here for bass-heavy navel-gazing – rather, they came to dance. With his new mixtape, 4WZ, Vidmar has completed a soft metamorphosis of sorts. Listening to the album straight through, there’s a feeling that echoes the one we all felt listening to The Weeknd’s debut House of Balloons - namely, where did this guy come from?! Here, Vidmar is forward, suave, and acute, everything that he chose not to be on Timeshare. With a production style that continues to age like fine wine and a stage presence blossoming into a full bodied pop icon, it’s not long until Shy Girls will have to change their band name to something not so presumptuously reserved. With help from LA producer P. Morris, Shy Girls brought his new sound and new look to Barboza with a rousing bang.P. Morris is an artist with anticipation. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd that anxious to groove and go completely starved of boring, predictable DJ transitions. When P. Morris hit the stage, there were probably 30 people in the crowd. Tasked with hyping the crowd with a DJ set of all fresh edits, Morris wasted no time in dropping his take on Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money”. When a whisper of the hook faded into view, a couple people in the front rows turned to each other, acknowledging the track, then starting to flail arms, go buy more drinks, etc. But Morris waited all of 30 seconds before he flipped the track entirely on its head, cutting and fading different samples at bizarre, syncopated tempos, freaking everyone out to the point of discomfort. He had induced pop vertigo. Rihanna wasn’t the only pop star to fall victim to Morris’s drastic reinterpretations – new Drake material popped up in the ether as well. But Morris’s edits were beyond the typical DJ sensibility of recognition and recuperation. No, Morris was in his own world, grooving to a beat that only those paying absolute attention could feel alongside him. In every way, Morris opened the night up perfectly, separating the fake from the real and giving the audience nothing but himself. It’s this fearless creativity and refreshing eclecticism that has seen Morris work with the likes of Le1f and Kelela on their latest releases. Go download his mixes (Vol 1 and Vol 2, to be precise) to get a better idea of this great up and coming production name.

P. Morris:

P. Morris

P. Morris

P. Morris

P. Morris Shy Girls 2.0 sees Vidmar’s guitar take a backseat. His band handles most of the sound, while Vidmar works on his pop star flaunt, belting out one 4WZ track after another, catering to the front of the audience as much as possible. The crowd knows the new material like clockwork, and while “Second Heartbeat” is still the loudest singalong of the night, it’s not by much. Opener “Renegade” becomes a club anthem in the small space and has the whole place dancing along as Vidmar leans heavily into the microphone. The new stage character is a far cry from the bright-faced act we saw on stage at Capitol Hill Block Party last year. He’s darker, drawing inwards, making heavy-handed declarations into the vapor of smoke. And yet, Vidmar does it all without the brutal chauvinism that tends to dominate the genre.

As a unit, Shy Girls sound better than ever. Both new material and old feel wonderfully fleshed out in the five man band context. With 4WZ, Vidmar and his band enter a new chapter with confidence, and I have a feeling that it’s only going up from here. Catch them at the small clubs while you still can!

Shy Girls:

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

Shy Girls

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