San Francisco – “I’m kind of obsessed with Kurt Cobain,” laughed Aleksandra Denton, the gentle, cooing presence behind Shura, the newest Manchester export that virtually takes the physical form of the future of music. Shura graced the stage of San Francisco’s Independent to share with the enthusiastic audience a blast of tracks from her short albeit already rather impressive career. Her love of Kurt Cobain was evidenced in the way her curtain of bleach-blonde hair fell across her face every time she approached the microphone, and in the way she held her guitar during a few songs, slung low across her shoulder, which was draped with a loose-fitting white denim jacket. The hour or so she was given only allowed for about eight songs, however the brevity of her set was outweighed and overshadowed by the caliber of her incredibly bold and nuanced performance.
Shura has yet to release a proper LP—that is said to be happening sometime next year, though exactly when remains to be seen, as the singer/multi-instrumentalist admitted that it’s taking a “fucking long time” to do so, and laughed that next time she’s back in town she might only have two new songs. Instead, over the course of the past year or so, she has dropped a handful of singles and one EP: this summer’s White Light, which contains several of the songs performed at the Independent earlier this week. The other songs that were played were some of Shura’s earlier singles, as well as a few tracks slated to appear on her upcoming debut.
Most of the time, Shura and her two band mates that flanked her on either side (whose names escape me—a guitarist/keyboardist on her left and a drum machine operator on her right) were drenched in cool, blue light that was intermittently interrupted with breaths of red and bright white, which were often reflective of the tone of the particular song being played at the moment (though the blue seemed universal throughout). Denton would often pause between songs to tell us of her love of San Francisco or her hatred of Mondays (“not a bad crowd for a Monday, eh?”), or to just burst into a stormy burst of giggles, much to the delight of the crowd at hand.
Shura kicked things off with a couple of unreleased tracks, the first being a bouncing, rhythmic number called “Nothing’s Real,”—a perfect intro—before heading into deeper territory with the breathy “Kids ‘n’ Stuff,” a slow creeping number that was heavily reminiscent of FKA Twigs’ earlier work. From here on out we got mostly previously released material that some (if not most) of the crowd already knew quite well, save for one song toward the end entitled “What Happened (To Us).” Things were kept mainly on the dancier side of things with “Indecision” and the adorably self-conscious “2Shy,” both of which appear on the White Light EP that was released earlier this year. “Just Once” was played midway through the set—one of the songs that saw Denton take up the guitar—for part of it, and the set closed with perhaps Shura’s two most famous tracks: “Touch”—which was Shura’s debut single last year—and “White Light,” the song after which the EP is named, and actually the first song I had ever heard by Shura. As the finale we were treated to the full seven-minute version of the song (rather than the three-minute edit that appears on the EP), during which the three band members were completely in sync, especially towards the end during the lengthy jam session that seamlessly juggles the three essential elements of the band’s music.
Even though it may be a long time before we see a full album from Shura, what we have already—in addition to the new material played at the show—is already quite exciting. Denton and her crew have no problem bending the malleable frames of genre, allowing molecules from each side blend into one another, synthesizing an entirely new blend of music that is at the same time invigorating, introspective, and intelligent. That, matched with her bubbling positivity and playful personality, looks to catapult her into the public eye very, very soon.
Shura recently wrapped up her North American tour and is now touring the United Kingdom through December. For more information visit her Facebook page.
Photo of Shura by Corey Bell