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SXSW 2018: Shamir is so over straight boys and bad friends

Eric Webb

Shamir Bailey’s giggle is so infectious, so fully surprising when it slips out of him, that you almost forget just how many things he seems  over.

The Las Vegas singer — shredding, squeaking, soaring and stoic at any given point of a South by Southwest showcase at Sidewinder on Tuesday — is over people who have done him wrong. That’s why “You Have a Song” is about someone he hates that he didn’t want to feel special. Carly Simon for the queer kids: “You have a song/Which means you’re doing something wrong.”

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Shamir is over straight boys: The song “Straight Boy” (natch) is about “how we don’t trust them.” You see, it’s partially because “being true is not their thing/Oh, it eats them up internally/Then they take it out on people like me all the time.”

And yeah, Shamir is over those friends that probably aren’t good people, too. The ones you don’t bring around your good friends, he clarified through the song “Easier.”

After first album “Ratchet,” a disco-flavored bop, last year’s “Revelations” took a more indie rock route. Wielding a glittery gold guitar and backed by a bassist and a drummer, Shamir caught a Ramones-style punk wind and let it carry him away at SXSW. He locked dead stares out into the crowd and sang through pained smiles. The singer’s “Very Black” pin, affixed to a truly rad Velvet Underground denim jacket, paired wonderfully with the signature golden butterfly perched in his hair. No note was off limits.

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Late in the set, someone screamed out that they loved Shamir. The singer started to return the affection, but stopped short to see who had said it. Once seeing who it was, Shamir followed through, explaining that love was a sentiment he wasn’t going to pass out to just anyone.