Shay Lia + Jon Vinyl @ L’Astral – 26 February 2020

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Shay Lia at l’Astral

‘Boiler Room Girl’ owns the stage at her first headline gig in Montreal 

L’Astral still felt half empty when opening act Jon Vinyl strolled onto the stage with the backing of his two-man band. And that’s not to say it was quiet. The intimate crowd brought enough energy to make up for their lack of numbers. 

Hailing from Toronto, Vinyl is only at the beginning of his career. He started making music a few years’ ago and includes soul legends Stevie Wonder and Otis Reading in his list of inspirations. This love of soul is evident in his performance which included a mix of acoustic numbers and sensual RnB tracks like Dangerous and Addicted. 

At the intro to Addicted, a girl in the audience screamed ‘This is my SONG!’ She then went on to sing every single lyric without even missing a breath, rivalling Vinyl himself. I was surprised (and disappointed) that he didn’t invite her on stage. Vinyl is more than worthy of this kind of fan loyalty. He’s a natural performer, and you could see by the expression on his face and the way that he moved on stage that he loves performing and sharing his music. 

Next up was our headline act Shay Lia. Real name Shanice Dileita Mohamed, Lia is Djiboutian-raised but a Montreal-native. This show marks the release of her 2019 album Dangerous which features collaborations with the likes of Buddy, Kojey Radical, and of course, Kaytranada.  

Her music career kicked off after she appeared in Kaytranada’s 2016 track Leave Me Alone. It makes sense then that this was her opening track. She danced on to the stage with an unmissable fro and disco-worthy pair of flairs. Her voice was even better live, and she hit every single note in her upbeat tracks with ease. 

For one track, she dimmed the lights and put on a pair of shades, announcing to the crowd’s laughter ‘this one’s for my ex!’ Lia included almost all of her collaborations with Montreal DJ Kaytranada including Chances and Blue. 

As she closed her eyes to dance on stage I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I’d seen her before (aside from in music videos and pictures). It’s then that I realise that she is ‘boiler room girl’ from Kaytranada’s iconic boiler room set from 2013. 

After a show that finished all too quick, Shay Lia thanked her audience, explaining that despite her crazy dance moves she’s actually an introvert. The audience continues to go crazy long after she left the stage, screaming encore relentlessly until she comes back for one final track. 

Review & photos – Cate Spre

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