Outside Lands Artist Profile: Shannon and the Clams

Photo by: Matt Cowan / Staff / Getty Images

Outside Lands revealed their single day lineups Tuesday and single day tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 am, so I decided that it’s the perfect time to profile some of the lesser-known artists on the bill in an effort to help you get more familiar with who you’re going to see. The Tuesday Artist Profile was on the inventor of “jizz jazz”; indie rock star Mac DeMarco, and today it’s local favorites…


Hailing from the sunny side of the Bay – Oakland – Shannon & the Clams have established themselves as one of the most popular local bands. Their throwback 50’s and 60’s doo-wop sound incorporates elements of punk, garage psych, and rockabilly. I think the best description of their sound that I have ever read is “a prom band in 1964 getting dosed with acid and having the sweetest lovelorn freak-out.” Sold!

Shannon & the Clams is the brainchild of vocalist/bassist Shannon Shaw, who started the band back in 2008 while attending the California College of the Arts in Oakland. Shannon had only recently picked up the bass guitar after a bout of depression left her looking for an outlet. She taught herself to play and started playing some of her original songs at open mikes before adding “The Clams.”

The band expanded to include keyboardist Will Sprout, who was the lead singer of one of my favorite bands out of Oakland, the now-defunct Mumlers, guitarist Cody Blanchard, and Nate Mahan on drums. The newly formed Shannon & the Clams began playing shows at the college, house parties, and grimy yet beloved clubs around the Bay Area – like Eli’s Mile High Club – as they started to build a considerable buzz for their raucous stage show and throwback style. Since then, Shannon and the Clams have put out four studio albums on several prestigious indie labels including Burger Records, Hardly Art, and local favorite 1-2-3-4 Go! Records.

Their latest album, Onion, was released on Easy Eye Sound after owner Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys signed them in 2017. I asked Dan during a KFOG Private Concert about discovering the band. Much to my surprise, he had heard them played at a record store in Nashville and knew right then and there that he had to sign them. Before long, Auerbach was flying the Clams out to Nashville to record at his personal studio. He acted as producer on the album, helping the band flesh out their album in a matter of only ten days.

The new album finds the band addressing some major issues. The song “Backstreets” was penned in an effort to shine a light on the aftermath of the Ghost Ship fire and the related housing issues facing the artist community in Oakland.

Other themes tackled on Onion include self-discovery, introspection, and the never-ending quest to find ones true self. And while the lyrical content may have matured over the years, Shannon and the Clams remain one of the most energetic and relentlessly fun bands to watch live.

Make sure to check out the videos below and see them Friday at Outside Lands!

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