Post-punk hillbilly radical folkie feminist, anarchist musician Michelle Shocked is now 47 and so were most of her fans at Sunday night’s gig at Yoshi's.
“You can sing along or you can just enjoy your sushi,” she told the crowd who had probably Tivo-ed Desperate Housewives and probably were enjoying their sushi thank you very much.
She and her audience have come along way since Shocked’s days in San Francisco’s hardcore punk scene squatting with MDC and hanging with the Dead Kennedys.
Now she’s making unplugged sound overproduced. Without the backup of a big swing band or a twang-tinged hootenanny, Shocked’s sound was mighty even while her show was raw and stark. Her resonant vocals – and gifted guitaring more than suffice.
Shocked’s multiple incarnations are numerous. Morphing from Mohawk to Mandolin, her musical styles have journeyed from acoustic singer-songwriting to neo-swing to reinvented bluegrass to Gospel. Shocked maintains that “once your categorized, you can be dismissed.”
Shocked started out as a teenage runaway who did time in mental hospitals and on the streets. Her 1988 “Short, Sharp, Shocked” album cover—which caused anxiety with her record label—is a news photo of her being strong-armed by the San Francisco police while protesting the Democratic Convention in 1984.
When she performed at Stern Grove a few years back, her born again Christian rock proved to be musically disappointing (for us), even if spiritually fulfilling (for her.) At Yoshi’s, she was still taking about prayers and Jesus (just a touch) but her bluegrass acoustic rock wasn’t suffering for her beliefs.
Shocked blew our geezer minds when she told the Yoshi’s crowd that the “brand new eight month old baby girl” she refers to in her 1988 hit, Anchorage, is now herself a mother.
But still the aging skateboard punk rocker herself on rocking. Shocked’s new album, “Soul of My Soul” hits the street on May 12.