Skulking onto the stage, Shame frontman Charlie Steen immediately commandeered the Thekla crowd with his arresting stare. Launching into album opener, ‘Dust on Trial’, it’s obvious that Shame are first and foremost a live band. Along with guitarists Sean Coyle-Smith, Eddie Green, bassist Josh Finerty and drummer Charlie Forbes, Shame have developed a certain live notoriety. Through their relentless touring, they’ve honed in on their distinctive post-punk sound to deliver a 45 minute set charged with energy, wit and rage.
Hailing from South London alongside innovative bands such as HMLTD and Goat Girl, Shame’s debut album ‘Songs of Praise’ was one of the most anticipated releases of 2018 so far. The Guardian labelled them as ‘Britain’s most exciting new band’- and it proved to be worth the hype. They’re definitely not your usual run of the mill indie band, Shame actually have something to say (or rather, shout). On ‘Tasteless’ the band take on the monotony of modern life, whereas ‘The Lick’ is a sardonic comment on the music industry: ‘So we can all sing along and gaze and marvel at the four-chord future’. It’s this immediacy and relatability that make Shame so great, speaking about what is happening now and encouraging the crowd to dance in the face of it all.
Having seen them at smaller venues such as The Louisiana and Rough Trade, Shame have gained a lot of confidence in themselves- they’re a fully cohesive unit, each song transition is seamless. It doesn’t take long before Steen’s shirt is off, cracking out some Ian Curtis-esque dance moves. The call and answer ‘Concrete’ gets a huge response from the crowd (a real mix between teenagers and 6Music Dads). The poppy, radio-friendly ‘One Rizla’ is the highlight of the night as Shame showcase their self-deprecating lyrics: ‘My voice ain’t the best you’ve heard / And you can choose to hate my words / But do I give a fuck?’
It’s clear from this that the band don’t take themselves too seriously. ‘Friction’ is frustrated and urgent- like every song on ‘Songs of Praise’- but it’s all delivered with a hint of sarcasm and wit. They slip a new untitled song into their set, with thrashing guitars and Steen’s characteristic drawl it’s an exciting insight into what Shame have to offer next. ‘Angie’ is one of the most emotional songs on their album, a powerful song dedicated to a friend who committed suicide. The band finish with ‘Lampoon’ followed by the amazing ‘Gold Hole’. Despite a short set, the band stay on stage chatting to the audience and taking photos with fans, leaving the crowd with the mantra: ‘Shame, Shame, Shame, that’s the name’. As if we could forget.