In the Globe Hall’s black-box theater in north Denver, a wall of greenery and sunflowers served as a backdrop for Brooklyn-based indie pop-rock singer Anna Shoemaker to perform her beat-driven, buoyant tracks. A wash of red and purple lights illuminated Shoemaker and her crowd of fans, many of whom were jumping and singing along with her.
This was University of Colorado Boulder alum Anna Shoemaker’s first show in Colorado since graduating from the university. She played a mix of songs from her new album, older hits and unreleased singles. Shoemaker opened for east-coast based indie/alt-pop duo Foreign Air on their “Hello Sunshine” world tour, which is stopping at 28 venues across the United States and Europe.
Shoemaker said that much of her come-up in the music scene has consisted of performing as regularly as possible, and this prepared her for a more intimidating scene when she traveled to New York.
“When I went to CU, I would play in every bar and coffee shop that would let me,” she said. “When I moved to New York, I started playing bigger venues and meeting new friends and collaborators. I feel like doing the work on my own at CU helped me find my voice and find my confidence, so by the time I got to New York, I knew what I wanted when I started recording and performing more.”
Nylon Magazine recently called Shoemaker “Brooklyn’s own Olivia Rodrigo,” and it’s easy to see why. Her stage outfit was the pinnacle of the Avril Lavigne-inspired Y2K punk-pop princess look that has dominated red carpets after Rodrigo’s breakout year in 2021. Her look was complete with a patched white button-down, a tan mini skirt, knee-high stockings and trendy Prada Monolith boots.
Shoemaker doesn’t simply copy this look and brand it as her own, though. The youthful rock-inspired pop performance popularized by Rodrigo is something that Shoemaker has been perfecting since she started releasing music in 2018. The aesthetic is obvious in her lyrics and production; she emphasizes honesty and emotional transparency in her songs, complete with rock-inspired drums and production.
“Everything I write is very personal,” she said. “Even when I’m collaborating with other songwriters and producers we tend to write about things that are very real to me in my life. It’s sort of a way to get things off my chest and organize my thoughts.”
Lyrics from Shoemaker’s most popular song with over 2 million plays on Spotify, “If You’re Going (I’ll Go),” exemplify this candor perfectly: “Moving fast in the back seat / So syncopated in the way breathe / Know I shouldn’t love ya / But I’m not sure that I don’t.”
Her honest songwriting is something that sets her apart from other artists. Alex Klinger, a fellow CU alum, met Shoemaker when they performed together at the Laughing Goat on Pearl Street in 2017. He says he’s been a fan of her music since.
“She’s just a really honest songwriter,” Klinger said at the performance. “She’s really genuine. It’s not contrived.”
He says that her genuineness carries through to her personal life and the way she interacts with friends.
“She’s in the right business,” he said. “She’s got her charisma…and she’s always just been herself.”
Her honesty in songwriting has propelled fans to her side, like Jasmine Herinandez, a concertgoer from Fort Collins, Colorado. She’s been following Shoemaker’s music for a year and a half and said she believes Shoemaker’s honesty allows for a genuine connection between artist and listener.
“I just love her music and how relatable it is,” said Herinandez.
Shoemaker played two unreleased songs at her show, titled “666” and “I Think I,” both of which will be out soon.
Contact CU Independent Arts and Entertainment Editor Lauren Hill at Lauren.Hillfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact CU Independent Visuals Editor Io Hartman at Io.Hartman@colorado.edu.