On a rainy Monday night, a trickle of fans lined up outside of San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop. The night may have been cold and wet, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the excited fans who queued up two hours before Sheppard was meant to take the stage. This admiration was reciprocated by the band itself — Sheppard went on to deliver a deeply personal concert experience.
The Rickshaw Stop seemed like a perfect venue for Sheppard to start its U.S. tour — its smaller size offered ample opportunities for interactions between artist and fans. A bubble of anticipation sustained the audience through opener Hailey Knox’s impressive set and boiled over into exuberant applause as the Australian six-piece took the stage.
The band gets its name from the last name of the two lead singers, Amy and George Sheppard. Unsurprisingly, the comical interactions between brother and sister literally take center stage and provide amusing buffers between Sheppard’s songs. Amy Sheppard drew the audience’s eyes with her neon green hair and bright pink jumpsuit. George Sheppard may have dressed in more subdued tones, but the siblings worked together to draw connections between themselves and the crowd. Both Amy and George Sheppard encouraged the audience to sing along to the popular song “Let Me Down Easy.” The song’s simple, repeating refrain of “Let me down easy, let me down easy, woah, before you go” offered even first-time fans the opportunity to feel like a rock star.
George Sheppard’s personality truly sparkled, and it came as a bit of shock to the audience when he made a confession — he had fallen sick just a few days prior. Despite being sick, George Sheppard still performed admirably, yet he admitted he was relieved during songs in which Amy Sheppard took control. And although George Sheppard was under the weather, he didn’t let that stop him from making connections with Rickshaw’s intimate crowd. From making references to the movie “Dodgeball” to cracking jokes about how he was spreading his “sickness” to his bandmates, the only truly infectious thing about him was his laughter.
“Dodgeball” wasn’t the only film that was referenced during the course of Sheppard’s set. Indeed, Sheppard indirectly referenced Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” with a cover of “Stuck in the Middle with You.” The song was undoubtedly much less creepy, however, in Sheppard’s hands. It was a surprisingly good song selection for a cover; the song is catchy and familiar enough that the audience couldn’t help singing along. “Stuck in the Middle with You” was useful in illustrating Sheppard’s talent for vocal harmonies and proved to be one of the more enjoyable tracks of the night.
George Sheppard’s voice was nearing its breaking point towards the end of the show — as evidenced by a concerned Amy Sheppard, in true Australian fashion, asking if he was all right. He apologized profusely to the audience when he acknowledged that the band was going to wrap up slightly earlier than normal.
The audience knew what the final song was going to be.
Despite minor vocal cracks, Sheppard was able to power through “Geronimo” to the delight of the modest crowd. The song is catchy, repetitive and high energy — it’s a difficult track to stand still to — and most members of the audience were jumping up and down in sync with the band for the song’s entirety. The most heartwarming moment of the show occurred during this final song, when the band’s youngest fan, 8 years old at the most, was carried to the front of the crowd by her mom. She received an enthusiastic high-five from George Sheppard during the song’s exuberant chorus, and it was definitely the highlight of the night.
Combining humor and energy, Sheppard provided an deeply intimate concert experience. The members of the audience found their rain-sodden wait well worth it and delighted in the upbeat performance by an immensely humble band.
Contact Sarah Alford at [email protected].