Sometimes you get tickets to a Sunday night show and you think to yourself “It’s Sunday, this is going to be a laid-back night”. If you thought that heading to Sarah Shook & The Disarmers at Atwood’s Tavern this past Sunday night you would have been very, very wrong.
Sarah and her great band, The Disarmers from North Carolina, turned a Sunday into a Saturday night. At least that’s how it felt at the sold out show in Cambridge, MA.
Earlier that day Sarah debuted her documentary, “What It Takes: film en douze tableaux”, directed by Gorman Bechard (“Color Me Obsessed, and Who Is Lydia Loveless?”) at an Independent Film Festival Boston screening at The Somerville Theatre. Gorman, Sarah, the producers and The Disarmers held a Q&A after the movie which served as a great pregame for the show a few hours later.
Zephaniah OHora opened the night at Atwood’s act with a folk-rock type sound, amidst a loud and excited room, anticipating Sarah’s set. Zeph drew his own fans to Atwood’s that night and the room was surely attentive and entertained by this skilled guitarist.
If you only know the social media version of Sarah Shook, you probably wouldn’t mess with her in a dark alley. Tough as they come, she often snarls for the camera and writes songs that detail the ingredients of a hard life. But, when you approach Sarah at a show, she is welcoming and gracious, and tends to her fans.
But be warned, she’ll knock you down, when she takes the stage, fronting an all-male kick ass country band. Her delivery cuts you like a knife as she unapologetically sings tales of heartbreak, whiskey-soaked nights, and loss.
A vegan, pansexual, atheist, Sarah Shook’s music ain’t no cookie cutter country. Her performance validates that she doesn’t just write songs; she lives them. Behind her badass songwriting and performance, The Disarmers crank out honky-tonk, barroom sounds that have your feet stomping and head shaking. Eric Peterson (lead guitar), Aaron Oliva (bass), Kevin McClain (drums) and, new addition and Massachusetts native, Adam Kurtz (pedal steel) played like a well-oiled machine.
Her set consisted of songs from her acclaimed new Bloodshot Records release “Years”, which Rolling Stone describes as “a crisp display of precision. Everyone plays with fire and purpose – the guitar solos feel deliberate in their service of the songs, which boast some of Shook’s most memorable melodies to date.” Pleasing veteran fans, Sarah also brought out a few old favorites like “Dwight Yoakam” and “The Nail” from her previous release “Sidelong”. The crowd hung on every word and really enjoyed the banter from Sarah and her band. Evidenced in the movie, interactions at Atwood’s and their chemistry onstage, you quickly realize that members of this band are as close as they get.
This was one hell of a party! It was a privilege to be at Atwood’s for this show, because she surely won’t be playing rooms that size for very much longer. Sarah clearly has something to say, and everyone is listening. Follow Sarah on the socials, go buy her new album, see her live immediately… and cross your fingers that she does a Providence show sometime soon!
written by : Michael Panico
edited by: Sarah Goodrich