A few years ago, when I was working at little harder at promotion than I do right now, a friend was telling me about a woman he heard at Des Moines Social Club’s Open Circus. He told me that she sat in the back for a while, a little shy even, and then walked on sage and just crushed it. He said her name was Sharika Soal and that he was completely blown away. He dropped the name Etta James, which seems astonishing to me. That’s not a name someone just throws out. He also said she wanted to start a band, but I wasn’t much help at the time. When I heard about Ladysoal a few months later, I had always meant to check them out, but I dunno, life seemed to intervene. I kept her name in the back of my head and kind of listened from afar, but our paths really never seemed to pass in a live setting.
Finally, I just said enough is enough. I had a Friday night free, I had nowhere to be Saturday morning. I finally decided that I would go beyond the YouTube videos I had seen and the couple of tracks I had heard on their Facebook page and I would finally see exactly what we were dealing with.
It was roughly halfway through Ladysoal’s 30-ish minute set at Wooly’s last Friday that I turned to my friend Rachel and said, “There isn’t anyone who sounds like this. Not just Iowa, there isn‘t anyone who sounds like this anywhere.” Now, I am not arrogant enough to think that I have heard all the bands in the world and can succinctly make this comment. However, I did hear enough of Ladysoal to know that there was something extremely unique and striking about them. Something, so utterly original to contemporary music, yet so familiar and powerful. It felt like the hybrid soul and blues that was so prevalent when rock and roll was in its infancy. Artists like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis were the first acts I could think of, but this was the first I had heard a really strong female voice that brought to life the rock I imagined from the 1950‘s.
But I knew that going in, I knew what to expect from the recordings, but studio time can do weird things to a voice sometimes. Sometimes you can hear a voice and then when you hear them live you realize that it was just great production. This wasn’t the case with Sharika. In that hall, with not a lot of people to feed off of or buffer the sound, she absolutely crushed. Her voice did things that would surely shred the bronchioles of a mere mortal.
But it wasn’t just the voice that won me over. It was everything about the performance. Sharika moved in a weird fluidity a lot of the time. It wasn’t just dancing; it was a sort of extension of the music. I mean, it was dancing, but there was something more to it. It was simultaneously choreographed feeling, yet also organic. It was a bit of a Jagger strut with a bit of Tina Turner. Unique, powerful and able to convey multiple emotions. She whipped her torso length braids around and they would wrap around her like an anaconda. She strutted and shook and overall never stood still.
I know I have spoke a lot of Sharika, and honestly it is because she tends to sometimes overpower her band, with her charisma and performance. But the guitars and drums are beyond adequate; even though that’s maybe all they need to be, in reality. The high quality musicianship is an added benefit to someone who is maybe looking just beyond a vocal performance. The blues riffs and solos are quick and dirty. The drums are timed and precise. The whole package of Ladysoal is what makes this band special.
It isn’t me who thinks this, as Ladysoal is starting to become a big hit. They are getting exposure all over the state and even with a record label showcase later this summer. So, one more Iowa band set to take the world by storm. If uniqueness and talent are still something labels want, then we will be hearing a lot more from them very soon.
Try Not To Miss Shows – 5/10 – 5/16
Atombender Album Release Show – 5/11 Zeke’s (Ames) 630pm
A talented band and a good album. This show also has lots of other bands, so it will be worth the drive.
Sensory Overloard – 5/12 Whittier Elementary School (1350 E Washington Ave) 7pm
Shawn talked about this last week, and it is awesome. Musically, there are performances from Trouble Lights, Olsen Twinns, Rumble Seat Riot and lots more.
Arguably the show stealers from GDP, LS4LM plays awesome indie rock. Also, Lesbian Poetry is a very talented songwriter.
A Sound of Thunder w/ Hath No Fury and Dark Mirror – 5/14 Vaudeville Mews 6pm (all ages)
Really powerful female fronted rock music with Sound of Thunder and Hath No Fury. Also, Dark Mirror is a lot of fun, too.