Shopping played a flawless set at the Silver Dollar

The British post-punk trio is one of the better bands to come out of the no wave revival


SHOPPING, GAUCHE, LITTLE JUNIOR and NEW ENCHANTERS at the Silver Dollar, Saturday, August 6. Rating: NNNNN


For the past couple of years we have tugged at loose threads from the post-punk and no wave era, looking to revive its still-novel approaches to rhythm, texture and melody in unrealized ways, and greatly expanding the territory in every direction.

One area of this expansion has been in the rediscovery of the nimble, minimalist and danceable rock practiced by ESG and Delta 5, an aesthetic that has been reinvigorated to great effect by bands like Toronto’s New Fries, Montreal’s Moss Lime, and London, England’s Shopping, who came through town last night on their North American tour.   

After some spirited, engine-revving opening sets from New Enchanters and Little Junior that laid plenty of tinder, tour support pals Gauche wasted no time blowing up the room with spacious, polyrhythmic skronk-dance. The songs felt like little Rube Goldberg machines, each one sounding radically democratic in its complex interlocking of rhythm, melody and call-and-response vocals. Within moments all crowd chatter had died off, and most resolutely folded arms began to fall slack and sway to the rhythm as the six-person ensemble from D.C. ratcheted up momentum. A lot of great things happen at Silver Dollar, but it’s rare that it feels like exactly the right room for the job, and Gauche’s heedless charm offensive threw light into every corner.

The night was starting to feel long but momentous by the time Shopping took the stage, and the band coasted on the crowd’s elation through a set of flawlessly executed renditions of the best tracks off their two full-lengths. Rachel Aggs and Billy Easter strutted, leapt and duck-walked all over the stage, two opposing poles on either flank of drummer Andrew Milk, weaving the most intricate cats-cradle of wiry guitar-and-bass dialogue.

The interplay between the trio is incredible, but it’s hard not to fixate on Aggs’s playing in particular. She pushed, pulled, caressed and throttled an unbelievably expressive and expansive post-punk vocabulary out of her Telecaster across a dozen songs, every note ringing with clarity and purpose, wrung with urgency and precision. You might already know that Shopping are one of the better bands to come out of this no wave revival moment, but do not sleep on the fact that Rachel Aggs is one of the best guitarists of this generation.

music@nowtoronto.com | @streetsbag

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