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Review: Shake Ups & friends at the Irving

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The Shake Ups, Salvador Dali Llama Farm, Noah East
Irving Theater, March 5
Three stars

Saturday's night's modestly-attended, all-ages concert at The Irving was kicked off by Noah East, also of the band The Soft Skills, playing a red Fender Jag Stag that had just come into his possession.

"This is my first show with this new guitar and I'm still getting to grips with it," he said before finger picking a slow, falsetto waltz.

East also provided his own backup the majority of the time: For one song he tapped a tambourine with his foot; on another, he announced, "This is where the trumpet part goes," before vocalizing the melody. He finally got some help from keyboard player Bitsy Matatall of the Shake Ups, who emerged from the crowd to play tambourine for East's final song, about a character who accidentally starts a fire that engulfs an entire city.

Salvador Dalai Llama Farm, which has one of the best band names in the history of both bands and names, followed East's performance. It was the band's first show in four months, but their clear singing and bright grooves were untarnished. Guitar shared equal space with other instruments, except for when it rose above the din to deliver a biting solo.

Another guitar/bass/keys/drums combo, The Shake Ups, headlined the show, their melodic power-pop more than filling the historic space. Among the highlights was an autobiographical song that name-checks people on their band e-mail list, "We Are The Shake Ups."

Not only that, but Matatall helpfully pre-warned the all-ages crowd of "the worst" curse word ahead in the lyrics before a particular song began. Midway through their set she quickly made her way through the audience handing out snack-sized bags of chips to every member of the crowd. The Shake Ups are truly a full-service band.

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