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CONCERT REVIEW - SHEER MAG AT THE CHAPEL

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Everyone knows that feeling after going to a really good show. Standing on the sidewalk waiting for a cab your heartbeat races, looking through the photos on your phone or loudly talking with friends at the expense of your already raspy throat. Your ears are ringing--a badge of pride that you were able to get close to the stage (and the blaringly loud speakers). Your feet, swollen after standing for who knows how long, constantly remind you how excited you are to go to sleep and jam out to the band’s entire discography the next day.

However, for a lot of young people like myself, this feeling doesn’t come as a product of seeing a solid rock show. What’s ‘cool’ to listen is often a little more subtle: if it’s rock music it’s the toned-down sound of Mac Demarco or Ariel Pink, for example. If I had to list the artists that gave me that tingly-toed after-show feeling in the last year, I would cite Frank Ocean, or Noname, or Girlpool. And though my preferences lean a little heavier than a lot of my taste-making ‘hipster’ peers, seeing a hard-hitting, new rock band may be a rare occasion. The fact is, not as many young people are making serious rock music, or at least, they’re harder to find. However, Sheer Mag’s show at the Chapel proves they are reversing that trend, and making 70s rock cool again.

When they stepped on stage, I was immediately surprised. Rather than wearing the rolled jeans and button-ups I’m used to seeing on “rock” bands, their aesthetic was closer to punk or metal, wearing mostly all black outfits that contrasted sharply with the bleached white hair of lead singer Tina Halladay. Mosh pits bubbled up throughout the crowd almost immediately, as dancers on the perimeter sloshed their beers and bopped around. The feeling in my chest was so lightweight, and while each distorted guitar chord strung out I kept dancing at an even pace, nonstop, for the entirety of their set. Song after song, guitar players Matt Palmer and Kyle Seely head pounded as they rocked forward and back, while bass player Hart Seely grooved to his own bassline and Wisch pounded away, a contagious smile across his face the whole time.

Most enjoyable, however is the sound of Halladay’s voice. Barreling out from her exaggeratedly-tapered scowl, it echoes the likes of Janice Joplin and Kathleen Hanna: flawlessly raspy, angry, and consistent. Her tone personifies the electric guitar she often sings in response to, while somehow consonant and unnerving at the same time. Better yet, her performance is calm, collected, and incredibly intimidating: carried by a slow pace across the stage and a threatening, eye contact-making glare. Without speaking hardly at all between songs, her sound alone dares the audience to yell along.

It’s hard to attach any better word to their show other than “fun,” because the audience experience is that simple--unadulterated, unrestrained, and thoroughly satisfying. As an audience member, one gets to turn their brain off for a couple hours--no real analysis of what they’re saying is required to enjoy, but rather one can close their eyes, dance, and let the band’s cigarette-soaked sound wash over them. Overall their anti-elitist, venue-commanding, ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude is unforgettable. The verdict is clear: Sheer Mag makes you scream, dance, and overall put on a non-negotiably killer show.

Veronica Irwin

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