Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers cruised into the Firebird venue in St Loius on Tuesday April 26, 2011 in support of their recent album Teenage and Torture.
To open the night was the local hard folk band Drown Fish, singing music with somewhat of a bluesy feel, but with a vocalist with a voice similar to that which one might expect to find in a band like Slayer (It’s that deep , growly and fierce sounding). From the first syllable in the song “Note From the Underground”, one could not help themselves from having to stop and listen. The performance was had a ‘hang out and drink’ feel to it, which was an excellent way to start of any performance laden night!
Following Drown Fish to the stage was another local band called Animal Empty, a band with an experimental rock sound resulting from the soulful voice of vocalist/pianist Ali Ruby and her band that utilizes an intricate instrumentation selection ranging from bass, electric guitar, drums, shakers and a tambourine. A band with two percussionists (however, one got lost in the fog by show’s end), Animal Empty performed a song packed, visually stimulating, multicolor lighted, fog filled set. The band performed an eight song set which featured songs “Right Outside,” “Teaching the Dead,” and “Sh-t in Time.” It was a highly memorable set and was worth the cost of admission.
Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers offered more intensity to the evening. Starting with the song “Stick It To the Woman”, the first 30 seconds of the song would lead an unfamiliar person to believe this might be just a highly vocal oriented set, something suited for a piano bar. The surprise was that once she lunged towards the mike and started to scream, the room would erupt in the seismic sounds of half the occupants being so startled and choking from beverages going down the wrong pipes. Shilpa, who was very cordial to talk with, appeared very inconspicuous in front of her harmonium. I just did not know that within 30 seconds this woman was going to take her hands off the steering wheel while everyone’s lives started to move in slow motion. Then it happened. Shilpa lunges and screams. Guitarist Andrew Bailey had already exited the vehicle soaring in a controlled manner with his instrument at hand. Bassist Nick Hundley tucked down, protecting his instrument, one strum of the string at a time, while drummer John Adamski obviously forgot to wear his seatbelt. I had never seen a drummer about to fly out of his seat before.
The band performed a highly energetic, ‘in your face’ set. There is nothing more ‘in your face’ than songs such as “Hookers,” “Coward,” and “Genie’s Drugs.” It was clear through the vocals and raw energy that each of these songs were in some way or another autobiographical. For those that stayed for the experience, this was something that exemplifies what music is about…making good music, saying what is on your mind and sharing it with others, and Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers certainly did that at the Firebird!
Find out more about Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers at the official website, shilparay.com .