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Shopping @ The Sunset w/Automatic, Doglob
March 6, 2020 in Seattle
By Graham Isaac
It was arguably the last weekend one could go out with minimal guilt. It was the last weekend that felt even close to what passed for normal in a year that’d already seen threats of a Third World War and an entire continent on fire. Folks were washing their hands more frequently but businesses were still open and people were still going out and doing things.
In this context, London/Glasgow punks Shopping played a sold out show at The Sunset Tavern. If folks were nervous they weren’t overtly showing it, with lines at the bar and an eager crowd of 20 and 30 somethings filling the venue.
Shopping play fierce and insistent post punk in the vein of Gang of Four, had GOF been more overtly disco influenced, or any of GOF’s descendants from the early 00s, but with the noise and rock star posturing stripped away.
On the band’s new record, All or Nothing, Shopping deepen their grooves and sharpen their hooks as they address living in the confines of a patriarchal capitalist system while still finding joy in relationships and personal expression. It’s political music that forgoes sloganeering in favor of a personal lens, and it’s stronger for it.
It was this personal connection that Shopping’s music has with their fans that had The Sunset packed and enthusiastic. Openers Doglob played a bracing brand of no wave that reminded me of nothing quite so much as Seattle’s own Rachaels Children. As the room continued to fill, Automatic took the stage with an impressive, self assured set that split the difference between the first openers and the headliners.
A lesser band might have been upstaged by such strong openers, but A lesser band might have been upstaged by such strong openers, but Shopping were more than up to the challenge. As they ran through a set that focused on their most recent release, including lead single “Initiative,” which, incidentally, was written in a Seattle basement. Shopping leaned Into the the energy of their fans, sprinkling fan favorites from earlier records through out. The crowd was appreciative but mainly grooved in place— though at points approached actual dancing.
As our panIn the weeks that followed, venues shut, schools shut, and the idea of being in a room full of people became an anathema. For most of us at the Sunset on March 6, Shopping is the last band we’ll see live in quite a while. It’s fitting in many ways that it was them; a band that plays urgent music for urgent times, but also celebrates community. A fitting memory to take with us as we face up to whatever is next.