Dent May + Shannon Lay @ La Vitrola – 15th July 2018

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With her neon orange hair, you’d be forgiven for thinking that L.A.’s Shannon Lay would sound kinda pop-punk, such is the resemblance to Hayley Williams. The reality is quite different though, as what we actually get is the most heartfelt, delicate, emotive acoustic folk you could hope to hear. The dim light of La Vitrola adds to the mood even more, and by the time she wraps up the set with Recording 15 from her newest Living Water record, you can hear a pin drop in the spellbound room. Wonderful stuff.

Shannon Lay Setlist

Sea Came To
Shuffling Stoned / Asa
Give It Up
Caterpillar – Good Time
All This Life Goin Down
The Moons Detriment
Recording 15

The last time I saw Dent May was way back in 2009 opening for AC Newman at the old Il Motore, and back then he was recording and touring as “Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele.” Since then, he’s dropped the “…& His Magnificent Ukulele” part; speaking to him after the show, he explains how he didn’t want to have a “thing” he was known by. Sure enough, no sign of a ukulele anywhere in the show tonight, let alone in the name. And it’s not just the name that has evolved; the look most certainly has too. Where once stood a bookish guy with a ukulele, now stands a hip frontman resembling Rivers Cuomo with a backing band that looks like Tame Impala. Seriously, he looks nothing like them!

It’s a party vibe from start to finish. Perhaps that can be partly attributed to the World Cup Final earlier today? After the stomping guitar solo of Home Groan, Dent asks “who saw the game today?! We got here and everyone was running wild in the streets!” After asking who has been drinking all day, the cheers that echo around the room suggest it’s more than a handful…

The summer pop of Dream 4 Me resumes the party mood, with its keys that sound a lot like You Get What You Give by New Radicals. Best Friend takes things to a funk level, before culminating in some seriously 80s hair-rock poses being thrown by Dent and his bass player (who reminds you of Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development in those mightily short denim cutoffs..).

After the bluesy 90210, complete with a Dent guitar solo right in amongst the crowd, the next chunk of the set goes decidedly retro. Eastover Wives is a jaunty throwback to the 60s with its “sha-la-la” backing vocals, and Face Down In The Gutter Of Your Love has a similar vibe, with a good slice of the crowd singing along. Breakthrough song Born Too Late is even groovier live than on record and brings many of those seated to their feet while the band sway cheesily in perfect sync.

After Across The Multiverse closes out the main set, the chants of “DENNNT MAY! DENNNT MAY!” swiftly summon the band back to the stage. In response, Dent jokes “be quiet, you’re embarrassing me!!!” Meet Me In The Garden constitutes the encore, closing out the fun-packed show just shy of an hour. Dent May might have dropped his magnificent ukulele long ago, but on tonight’s showing, he certainly hasn’t dropped his magnificent live show!

Dent May Setlist

Hello Cruel World
Picture On A Screen
Home Groan
Dream 4 Me
Take Me To Heaven
Best Friend
Eastover Wives
Face Down In The Gutter Of Your Love
Born Too Late
Across The Multiverse

Meet Me In The Garden

Reviewer & photos – Simon Williams

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