Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
Crystal Ballroom; Portland, OR
A big “Howdy Ya’ll!“ came from the voice of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves, as he introduced himself with a friendly toothy grin to the audience on Wednesday night. The Pacific Northwest was granted a little dose of Southern Hospitality that night as the historic Crystal Ballroom was transformed into a sweaty, funky folk love fest. Strong scents of incense and body odor were the recipe for a lively audience with
nothing but smiles.
The singer-songwriter from Houston, TX has deemed himself to be more of a one-man show, but tonight he was accompanied by another backup guitarist and drummer beginning with lengthy guitar jams. The familiar track “House of Winston” began to play as constant foot stomping vibrations from the floor heightened.
The unexpected presence of the accompanied band helped to add a heavier rock n’ roll element compared to his otherwise more acoustic sounds of most of his music – especially in the upbeat track, “The Perfect Parts.” Shakey Graves also did a decent job of balancing his set out by slowing it down with mellow, romantic tracks such as “Proper Fence” as he recalled an anecdote of young love he found at the age of seventeen.
The charisma and musical ability was impossible to ignore in the slower, more sensitive songs like “If Not For You” while the quirky “Pansy Waltz” was a classic portrayal of Shakey Graves’ pure originality. You could see his spastic facial expressions and delicately flailing arms moving to the beat of the music; Alejandro’s signature raspy wails sounding just as perfect as if you were playing him from your own speakers.
Covering the majority of tracks off his most recent album, And The War Came, the absence of Esmé Patterson was the missing link in the nights set alongside Shakey Graves in delivering a wholesome performance. During their popular duet in “Dearly Departed,” the audience failed miserably trying to pick up the slack, singing along with her verse in the song. It was unfortunate as they both had recently performed together just days earlier at the Sasquatch! Music Festival.
The show concluded with a stripped down encore of the hit “Hard Wired,” a prime example of Shakey Graves’ genuine style as a musician. The night was a celebration of enjoying being alive filled with an explosion of heart-pumping, toe-tapping dancing. Shakey Graves oozes a hauntingly beautiful, rugged and raw element through his music and showmanship that is truly one of a kind.