After a backbreaking weekend of live music, I strolled into Shine for a performance by self-professed “quirky folk” band, The Shook Twins. Shine is a glimpse into what Boulder was and in some circumstances still is, and the complete antithesis of the growing corporate model seen along Pearl Street and recently highlighted by the emergence of Wal-Mart. Residing on a property that has seen its tenants come and go over the years, and neighboring what was Shug’s and the B-Side Lounge before it, Shine is a brewery and locally owned and operated restaurant and lounging space that happens to host bands and artists in a nice, small room in the back. Boulder, and specifically Shine, was a perfect spot for the Shook Twins and their unique blend of artistic, giggly folk rock.
The usual crowd of bluegrass concert goers were out and about and the crowd was Boulder diverse: hippies, Namaste tattoos, yoga pants, an alarming rate of men and women clad in fedoras which I decide must be the hipster contingent although I count only one pair of black rimmed glasses, lots of hiking boots, long hair, cropped hair, dreadlocks, smoky overcoats, a variety of beards and flannel shirts, and local business owners. I’m sure if Shine had a parking lot, there would be plenty of Subarus. The Shook Twins, based out of Portland, Oregon, represent the coming together of all of these factions well, and no doubt rode into town with a fairly large following awaiting them in similarly minded Boulder.
Following a set by Ghost Dreams, identical twins Laurie and Katelyn Shook and their sweeping blonde hair took the stage to a crowded room, with some of the audience deciding to take a seat on the floor while the rest crammed in around them. It was an intimate setting for the zany, traveling gypsies and their assortment of guitars, banjos, ukuleles, drum machines, fiddles, telephone fading microphones and every other possible tambourine and hand held rhythm stick you can think of. I have to admit when I first heard them talk and giggle at nearly everything said to the static from the microphones, I thought I was in for a long night, but it seems as if they’ve embraced their quirkiness in the fashion of Juliette Lewis, and used it to add another layer to their musical textbook on the topic of quirky folk.
With Laurie on banjo, Katelyn on acoustic guitar, Anna Tivel on fiddle and Niko Daoussis playing the bass and mandolin, they broke into their first number, titled “Window,” also the name of one of their albums. All multitalented musicians, instruments were swapped throughout the set and vocal leads passed around while they took us through a well rounded set of tunes ranging in context from traveling through a window into the sixties to what they described as “futuristic apocalyptic swing music.” Laurie and Kateyln glow front and center in their loose dresses and blonde hair, while Niko and Anna flank them on either side bringing more of a dark side to the quartet. Anna and Niko also added songs of their own to the performance, with Anna’s particularly poignant “Rosy-Colored Skulls” really standing out for the lyrical depth and coffee shop approach. Her voice helped to change the vibe throughout the set, and it is apparent that she can hold her own and does so with her own performances. Niko also brought a different element with his songwriting and appearance, as he donned a green bandanna across his face and sang through it as he strummed a telecaster to the chorus of “Aint no thang to me, aint no thang but a chicken wang.” I found that song very fitting of the Shook Twins, and it gave me a chance to see what they can add to a song to help make it consistent with their own material and performances.
Katelyn walked off stage and let Laurie take the reigns for a song she claimed to be about her alternate personality that has no ego, and I took the opportunity to check out their merchandise. They had a couple of CD’s that cost more than a ticket to the show, including one live album which is well worth checking out to hear their unusual brand of handling the pressures of being on stage and performing for crowds. The most unique item I spotted, which they mentioned during their set, was a music download card printed using wildflower seeds, and could be planted after use. Little things like that go along way in helping define the character of the band, and it would be nice to see more artists follow their lead. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream popularized this innovative method of passing on music or information and in turn leading to a good cause and it has since percolated to open minded and environmentally conscious people like Laurie and Katelyn.
At the end of the show, the girls came back on stage for their encore and played “Shine On,” an original composition that they felt obligated to play at Shine. The crowd howled at the glowing wolf moon outside and the Shook Twins tossed about their signature laden wooden egg that has become somewhat of a symbol for the band and a representative of what they stand for. The twins and their fascinating traveling act is sure to grow and expand as people learn about their music and lack of boundaries, and they are well worth keeping an eye on in the near future.