SHOPLIFTING Harnessing the power of punk. Curt Doughty
by Zac Pennington


Sun June 1


126 NE Russell

Musicians forced to bear the weight of their past bands are forever stalked by terms like "formerly" and "featuring members of." But it's important that, when dealing with the four-piece punk rock band known as Shoplifting, your preconceptions be placed aside.

Upon the dissolution of their former band Chromatics in August of last year, Hannah Blilie (also formerly of the Vogue, Soiled Doves), Devin Welch (ditto), and Michelle No reconvened with associate Christian Pugmire under a new vision--one that communally reconciled the misgivings each had about the pratfalls of the past. It took about 45 seconds into their first show a few months ago to make one fact remarkably clear: The past was just a dress rehearsal.

The band is a chorus of inter-gendered vocals, erratic, extemporaneous distortions, and throbbing, urgent rhythm. To say that Shoplifting are a progression from their previous projects undermines the true artistic leap represented in their still un-ripened seed--it's the memory of their past endeavors collected in a seething, pulsing open wound of a band. In place of sonic comparisons, it's best to enter their fray in terms of ideology, as their urgency screams (and screams, and screams) the strains of Huggy Bear's politics of personal aesthetic. Theirs is a utopian vision of reciprocal dialogue, a post-Riot Grrrl sensibility of inclusive social responsibility.

"This isn't about just getting on a stage and playing music anymore," explains guitarist Welch. "It's more about harnessing the power of that position. What do you do when you're on the stage and you are suddenly louder than everyone else in the room? What are you going to say?"

This is punk rock with a heart and a set of lungs--you can see it on their faces when they play, you can hear it in their tones as they squelch. There is something important at stake. Shoplifting is a way of life.