Shows: Sheer Mag @ Far Out Lounge & Stage


A salute to Sheer Mag — and specifically lead vocalist Tina Halladay — for powering through for Austin.

Halladay was still recovering from a recent illness last weekend, but took the stage anyway for a crowd well short of a sellout — not even “big,” really — that came out to see the Philadelphia retro rockers at the Far Out Lounge & Stage on April 6. If there were any real lingering effects — beyond stamina, as Sheer Mag played for less than an hour — Halladay really didn’t betray any of them, as the band’s program was short but satisfying, largely devoted to its brand new album, Playing Favorites.

The sharpness of Sheer Mag’s ’70s-steeped, car radio-friendly rock attack — think Thin Lizzy with a dash of punk and a half-cup or so of early glam along the lines of Slade — neither exceeded its considerable power on record, nor lowballed it. On a stage somewhat curiously plunked near the back-middle of Far Out’s trademark massive patio (you could walk behind it if you wanted to), they delivered the goods under cloudy skies.

A fan at her feet blowing her hair every which way as she turned, Halladay handled her mic with quick and authoritative motions toward her mouth, her high-and-scratchy pipes not sounding compromised by whatever was ailing her. The rolling and tumbling 8-track era sound of the Magsters’ instrumentalists similarly felt familiar to anyone who’s followed their career for any part of past decade, even as some of the set was given over to the new wrinkles evident on Playing Favorites. The danceable funkier rock of recent single “Moonstruck” was agreeable, enjoyable, but the real gems were the pure-rush rockers that are Sheer Mag’s long-standing wheelhouse. Another new one, the shit-talking “Eat It and Beat It,” better exemplifies what people come for, as did the older “Just Can’t Get Enough” (2017) and the even older concluder before the encore, “What You Want.” Lead guitarist Kyle Seely was a star throughout, offering classic rock-informed solo lines that conjure images of smoky arenas, Firebirds and ubiquitous corduroy pants.

Sheer Mag’s debt to rock that came just a little later got a big nod at encore time, when they and members of both their crew and opening act Mujeres Podridas teamed up for a boisterous version of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize,” — as covered by Quiet Riot in the ’80s, of course. That bit of shout-along fun was enough for that side of their musical spectrum; their hair-metalliest original, 2019’s “Steel Sharpens Steel,” didn’t materialize, and that’s OK. Halladay’s recent illness notwithstanding, Sheer Mag is at its sickest when it’s conjuring echoes not of 1985, but 1975.