There were many hindrances. The 18' by 18' room, the mini stage that just fit the grand piano, leaving the drums on the floor; the folks "just trying to get through," the peep-show reminiscent red light above their heads, the nine dollar rail whiskey. Through all these obstacles, including the strict 45 minute set restrictions implemented by the Rockwood Music Hall, The Shivers valiantly and deftly jumped through the hoops.
The duo opened with a guitar and piano only version of "Love is in the Air," a track off frontman/songwriter/master-dancer Keith Zarriello's debut solo album, Truants From Life. With Jo's piano taking the melody, Zarriello slowly and methodically sang the first verse, but at the songs climax "love doesn't care, if you prance around in your underwear, in your underwear, you're in your underwear," his face was riddled with emotion, excitement and a undisclosed manic glee that stayed hidden on his face throughout the show. Including one song on her own, Jo's thunderous piano exists as the structure of each song played, teaming in perfect harmony with Keith's sharp yet minimal guitar picks, and the occasional marching band drumbeat.
I can't tell you the rest of the set list, I can't tell you how many songs they played, all I had written on my hand at the end of the show was "LIITA," detailing the opener. It wasn't that I necessarily forgot to write as the show went along, it was that I couldn't bring myself to do anything but stare. Enthralling, rapturous, magnetic, these words don't make the cut in my memory. I remember his face, I remember her face, I remember their cues to each other, I remember hearing the bartender telling people to "wait a minute," because she couldn't stop watching either.
There are so many musical references you can tally up when describing The Shivers' sound (The Velvet Underground being the biggie), but they transfer so well between all their influences that it creates something only them, making a list pointless. If I must create a profile for your imagination, think the intensity of Mick Jagger, the emotional outbursts of Mark Hollis, and all wrapped up in a similarly-sporadic David Byrne. It's just so damn entertaining; and these are not happy songs! This is (apparently) not a happy man, and he's letting you know this, which becomes extremely admirable as you witness his disappointment manifest on stage.
And while contained in each song may lie a story of unrequited love, depression or hatred, the path one travels through a Shivers live show is not one of heartbreak, but one where you take desperate stabs at trying to attain that eternal glee disguised on the face of the performer; and at least this audience member was ecstatic to be allowed that attempt.
The Shivers are: Keith Zarriello and Jo Schornikow; they are taking a hiatus from New York City, Zarriello stating, "I forgot there were places with…trees. I gotta get out of the city for a while.”
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Elias Necol Melad is my first guest contributor. He is an avid and knowledgeable music fanatic with exceptional taste, a visual artist who also can complete the Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle with a pen in record time.