Shakey Graves Mesmerizes Manhattan


New York – Friday night’s Shakey Graves performance in Manhattan was wonderful and wild, and welcomed the weekend with a bang. The indie musician played in support of the mega-beloved blues-rock outfit Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the turnout was awash in blues fans of all generations. On stage, Alejandro Rose-Garcia is a lit stick of dynamite, and he stole the show with his unmatched energy and jaunty delivery.

The night unfurled at the historic and majestic Beacon Theatre, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Originally designed to showcase vaudeville acts and motion pictures, The Beacon Theatre has housed no shortage of performance glory since its doors opened on Christmas Eve in 1929, including the 2011 and 2012 Tony Awards. Hyper vitality permeated the venue on Friday night, and the juxtaposition of new age music and old world decadence calibrated a uniquely ornate ambience.

Rose-Garcia wasted no time getting the set off the ground, and was not shy about chatting up his audience. Early on, he played “Bully’s Lament,” an old favorite for longtime Shakey Graves fans. This is a calmly ebbing ballad, razor sharp in its content, and performed live it burned slowly and sparkled sublimely. Next up was “Word of Mouth,” which Rose-Garcia introduced saying, “Here’s a little song for you about all the bad advice you’ll get in your life. Because there’s heaps of it,” he intoned with a grin. “And a lot of it comes from people like me.”

Contrary to his lovable self-deprecating introduction, the lyrics to this track belie unrestrained and unpretentious sagacity. Rose-Garcia sang, with apparent pleasure, “If you value your life stay off the drugs / if you value the drugs stay off the map /if you value maps you better travel, son / if you don’t want to travel then you better run.” These are gold-plated pointers and, judging by the crowd’s reaction, clearly resonated with a cadre of wanderers in attendance.

“This next song is one we can all relate to,” Rose-Garcia transitioned. “It’s like when you marry the wrong woman and she steals your baby. Then you move to Mexico and grow weed for awhile.” Whatever you say, Shakey Graves, as long as you never remove your cowboy hat.

As Rose-Garcia cycled through a handful of old and new tracks, a standout being “Late July,” the setting continued to lend an inimitable element of magnetism to the night. The venue is behemoth in size, and would be a challenging space to command for any act. But Rose-Garcia, a one-man band, captained the cavernous interior with unrestrained confidence. His larger-than-life persona, mixed with a healthy dose of southern charm, was the perfect blueprint for entrancement at scale.

Sadly, Rose-Garcia wrapped up his set in just under an hour. “There’s a clapping part in this song,” he said before performing “House is Haunted,” a stronghold off his forthcoming album and the chosen closing track. “If you feel the spirit possess you,” he added, “please, by all means, participate.” The audience happily obliged, and the night concluded in a frenzy of capacious handclapping.

Shakey Graves’ new album, And The War Came, is slated to surface on October 7 via Dualtone Records. In the meantime, read our album preview and synch your personal calendars to his tour dates. Our 2013 Newbie Award winner for Best New Male Artist, this is an act that will blow you away with tsunami-like force, and one that’s well on its way to stepping into the most blinding of spotlights.

Liz Rowley

Liz Rowley

Born in Mexico and raised in Toronto, Jerusalem and Chicago by a pair of journalists, Liz comes to with an inherited love of writing. After discovering a niche for herself in music journalism and radio while at Bates College in Maine, she always keeps a running playlist of new music to soundtrack her place in the world. Liz is passionate about helping dedicated, talented musicians gain the exposure they deserve. A recent transplant to Brooklyn from Hawaii, she is plagued by an incurable case of wanderlust and cursed with an affinity for old maps and old things like typewriters and vintage books. She adores photography and running and is very good with plants. Having come of age in Chicago, Wilco speaks to her soul. If she could be anything, she would be a cat in a Murakami novel.
Liz Rowley