SAN FRANCISCO — Still cresting a wave with its hit song, “Trampoline,” Maryland electro-pop trio SHAED concluded its largest tour with a sold-out Popscene concert at the Rickshaw Stop Friday. Vocalist Chelsea Lee and multi-instrumentalist twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernst played Popscene two years earlier, but Friday’s show was more of an exclamation point for SHAED, whose stock has been rising on radio and streaming charts for months.
The trio opened with “Too Much,” with Lee’s sandy voice splitting the middle between chirpy synths and rolling bass. “Silver Knife” had a silkier texture, with a synth that sounded like a brass riff partway through. Although it was barely noticeable in the performance, Lee said she had been losing her voice for several days, and asked fans to help her sing the title track to SHAED’s 2018 EP, Melt. The powerful ballad is about Lee overcoming doubt and finding herself as an artist, which led her to the Ernsts.
“I’ve never been happier and we’ve never been happier,” Lee said afterward.
The 68-second “Wish I” served as a kind of palate-cleansing interlude, an ethereal backdrop on which Lee repeated “Wish I” with a shimmer in her voice. While most of the songs in the set rested between electro-pop bangers and R&B head-boppers, this was something else. It was followed by another song that stood out, the acoustic guitar-led “Keep Calling.” The brothers sang backing vocals, adding layers of depth to the song.
“Is it even love?” Lee sang on an as-yet unreleased pop song with a Euro-club vibe. “Why don’t you give me space?” The following “You Got Me Like” was an uplifting, soulful tune, which Lee said is about best friends. The song has a high-pitched Mariah-Carey-esque backing track vocal. On “Lonesome,” the building keyboards added drama and when combined with Lee’s vocals, the result was a song that sounded like it belonged on MS MR’s 2015 album, How Does It Feel. The gravelly texture of Lee’s delivery matched that of MS MR’s Lizzy Plapinger.
All that set up the song everyone was waiting to hear. “Trampoline” had Lee belting with more force than the other tracks, but the song didn’t necessarily rise above the rest of the show. That’s not a knock on the hit single (which has been saturating Bay Area radio for weeks), but a statement attesting to the strength of SHAED’s early songbook. The band rounded out its set with the jazzy “Just Wanna See” and the song most representative of the band on this night: “Name On It” was a cross between sugary pop and sensual goosebump-raiser.
Duo Moby Rich (Maxwell Joseph and Connor Pledger) opened the concert with a set of alt-pop, marked by Pledger and Joseph’s tendency to sing the same lyrics simultaneously. Over the seven or so songs the two played, there was only one 15-second stretch where Pledger sang a bridge by himself. That came on the acoustically tinged “Pocket.” The rest of the songs were centered more on percussion-heavy synth-pop.
The set included mid-tempo slow-burners like “Oh My” and woozy “Sabotage,” which recalled early Dirty Heads, as well as the downtempo “Just Mine” and the layered “Yoko Ono,” the duo’s first released song.
Follow editor Roman Gokhman at Twitter.com/RomiTheWriter.