Sing along with the Clams

The show is everything for Oakland garage-rock crew

Shannon and the Clams

Shannon and the Clams

Shannon and the Clams perform Tuesday, Aug. 27, 8 p.m. Trox & The Terribles open.
Tickets: $15
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
1075 E. 20th St.

When you first hear Shannon and the Clams, a lot of familiar things probably come to mind. You might detect some 1950s doo-wop, a little flash of Elvis, ’60s garage sounds and punk-rock energy. It’s melodic, it’s gritty, it’s driving, and it’s all inseparable from the band’s overall sound.

“It is a really hard band to describe, but I love that,” vocalist and bassist Shannon Shaw said. “We don’t love just one kind of music. We have a plethora of things we’re absolutely in love with.”

The four-piece has been an East Bay favorite for the last decade, coming up in the area’s warehouse/underground party scene, churning out albums and touring all over the country. The band eventually caught the ear of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who produced the 2018 album Onion—an introspective release written with an eye toward the band’s community in the wake of Oakland’s Ghost Ship Fire—and put it out on his label, Easy Eye Sound.

“It felt like a very natural progression,” Shaw said. “I don’t know where we’re going, but we’re going up and it still feels good and we still love what we do.”

That passion is palpable. Shannon and the Clams have become known for dynamic live shows, which combine the buoyant pop tunefulness of Shaw and guitarist and co-songwriter/vocalist Cody Blanchard with the pulsating energy of a punk show.

“When we’re on stage, we’re working really hard, we’re always giving a show,” Shaw said. “You’ll never go to a Clams show and see us in our street clothes staring at our feet playing songs exactly how they sound on the album. When I play songs, it’s really important to me to give a genuine performance; I have to kind of go back to the original feelings and stir them back up. It’s definitely an emotional rollercoaster ride, but I’m so lucky that I feel the audience going through that, too. That’s incredibly important to me.”

And while the thread of influences runs from Ennio Morricone soundtracks to Thrasher magazine skate-punk tapes, there is a continuity to be found in solid songwriting presented with emotional intent.

“I listened to a lot of oldies growing up, and I think that punk music is actually a lot more similar to ’60s girl groups and crooners than a lot of people realize,” Shaw said. “They’re using their voices as an instrument to emote, to put more into the song, which I think is something that’s kind of lost these days.”

The band will head back to Auerbach’s Nashville studio next year to make a new record, but before that, Shannon and the Clams will perform three one-off shows—one at the Sierra Nevada Big Room this Tuesday (Aug. 27)—before rounding out the year with a couple of arena tours, first with Zeppelin-esque sensation Greta Van Fleet, then with the Black Keys. (Tip: Go see them at the relatively intimate Big Room while you can, before you have to share the experience with 10,000 others.)

“Honestly there’s nothing more thrilling in my life than hearing people sing along,” Shaw said. “I love singing along; it’s such a way to connect where you don’t have to have anything in common. If you just know the lyrics to ‘Under the Boardwalk’ and a hundred people are singing it or 10 people are singing, it just makes you feel so good.”