That Shellshonic Shag-O-Vision—the web series from Brooklyn punk two-piece Shellshag—plays out on a set depicting a CRT is fitting. The CRT appears on LCD screens whose capabilities exceed the original, just as Shellshag and their guest of the week, Ben Snakepit, will eventually exceed the set’s abilities to contain them.
Shellshag have always been a playful rock band; Stars of San Francisco’s nineties DIY scene, whose heritage was passed down from the outsider culture of Haight-Ashbury’s hippies and the Tenderloin’s transgressives, their music thrums with those politically-fraught sonic hallmarks while simultaneously sporting the innocence of anti-folk outfits like the Moldy Peaches (anti-folk, of course, itself has powerful politics). Much like their playful approach to their music, this episode of Shellshonic Shag-O-Vision quickly deconstructs its children’s-show premise as it evolves into a raucous punk hangout.
Recalling web series like NPR’s tiny desk concerts, Shellshonic Shag-O-Vision features weekly guests like Don Giovanni labelmate Laura Stevenson and Marissa Paternoster. Season 2, Episode 10 features the return of Ben Snakepit, an Austin, TX-based zine artist who also plays in Austin’s Ghost Knife. It establishes its playful tone early as excitable hosts Shell and Shag (played in by Shellshag’s “Invisible Rock Stars”) introduce Snakepit by having him draw the set, a venue for several moments of prop comedy. Together, they perform a Ramones cover (“Suzy Is a Headbanger”) in costume and accent before breaking out of the television to perform Snakepit’s “can’t download a beer”.
Wide-eyed and CRT-bound, Shellshag initially resemble hosts of an early Sesame Street. Though pizza and beer proliferate, eyes droop, and the set transmutes, their playful attitude carries the episode. Like the anti-folk set, who sounded like San Francisco’s earnest troubadours even as they playfully mocked them, this episode of Shellshonic Shag-O-Vision subverts a predictable form (the static-set, rotating-guest web series) to more authentically feature the talents of its stars.