Waiting in line for our entry to Chicago's Subterranean, it was practically impossible not to turn to my group of friends and spit out the common cliche that accompanies the anticipation of a concert—"Do you remember the first time we saw the music video?"
The music video was Shane's "Insecure" and if you have yet to watch it, I urge you to travel over to YouTube right now and give it a view.
It's not easy to forget the night my friend turned to me, her laptop open to YouTube, and her face bearing resemblance to that of someone who can't wait to fill you in on a secret. "You aren't ready for this," she said to me and, oh my god, she couldn't be more correct. The video begins with an airy instrumental as we're guided into a cathedral where, Shane himself, the lead of what looks like a well-dressed boys choir begins to sing along to the track, sounding soft and almost secretive.
So, I indeed was not prepared for the moment that the music stopped, the mic was dropped, suit jackets were removed, and (SPOILER ALERT) the music was resumed by Shane swiftly turning around and spanking himself. I can still remember the ugly half gasp/half laugh I made as my hands flew up around my mouth.
Ah yes. It was love at first spank.
The rest of the video is full of Shane and his backing crew dancing in the holiest of unholy ways as they make their way from the altar and down the aisle, cooling down the video with some lighthearted/flirtatious interactions between Shane and a girl who was there to witness the show.
With an almost nihilistic sense of humor and a handful of lush pop ballads, the 22-year-old California native is shaping up to have a strong cult following. He recently finished up his east coast "Funeral Tour" and my group of concert junkie friends from high school and I were able to grab tickets to see his Chicago show.
We arrived to the queue only about an hour and a half early and were lucky to find that we were only about eighth in line—it didn't take much time after our arrival for the line to grow full of young girls clad in the sweetest homemade t-shirts brandishing hand-painted song lyrics and the infamous silhouette of the moment Shane first turned around and spanked himself.
Looking around and discovering that you and your friends are some of the oldest people at a concert (excluding the parents who only joined because it was a school night) is always a little concerning. Nothing is scarier than being front row at a concert and suddenly realizing that the 14-year-old girl behind you is gearing up to do whatever is necessary in order for them to get as close as possible to their sacred idol, the look in their eyes beaming with the intent to kill. Incredibly, there was very little of that at this show. There was only one single incident in which a couple of girls needed to be escorted out due to their violent pushing and at a concert full of 14-16-year-old girls I would call that a success. I mention this because I think that the attitude of a crowd reflects a lot about the artist and the kind of group mentality that they attract. It's not often that you can keep a crowd of young ladies calm while watching a pop star perform (trust me, there are plenty videos of me sobbing and screaming at a Justin Bieber concert when I was 12 even though I was near the back of the arena)
Another thing that I absolutely loved about this show was just how interactive Shane was with his audience. He displayed a huge effort to make the entire crowd feel as though they were a part of the show. Even though many of the gestures were small (holding hands or letting audience members sing into the mic) the energy that Shane gave off allowed participants to feel connected to his performance. He was capable of making each moment and each interaction through the show feel personal which is something of a talent in itself. Some of his crowd interactions, however, were not so subtle. My personal favorite part of the show was during his song "Carrie" when he brought a birthday girl up on stage and proceeded to sing and dance directly at the girl for almost the entirety of the song. Watching her laugh and cover her face while smiling in disbelief had to be the sweetest part of the night (to make things even better, I talked to her after the show and found out that this was her first concert! I'm not sure if any other concert moment will be able to top this one for her)
After the show was over, the crowd literally raced up the stairs to line up for photos with Shane. My group was one of the last to get photos with Shane and by the time it was our turn, we were told by management that we would have to hurry because they were running low on time. Knowing this, I was surprised when the experience of getting to actually meet Shane still felt very personal—he seemed genuinely excited to meet and talk to us. After our first photo, I said "thank you!" and began to walk away when I was suddenly pulled in for a second photo which was the best surprise to me—the last time I met a singer at the same popularity level as his, the rules were literally, "say hello, smile for the camera, and get out of the venue" so the fact that Shane took his time to take multiple photos and talk with us even though he was limited on time felt so incredibly special.
All in all, if attending a show in which backup singers are clad in sexy funeral-esque getups, a crowd cheers as a reaction to being asked "who here is dead inside?" and slutty dancing + spanking oneself is not only highly encouraged but practically inevitable, I think it would be wise for you to snatch a ticket to Shane's next show as soon as possible! Lord knows that soon enough he will have spanked himself into becoming a household name and getting the chance to see this gem in such an intimate setting will be as rare as the singer himself.