Shovels and Rope w/ Shakey Graves
I had been dying to see Shakey Graves perform live ever since I saw his YouTube music video for "Late July" back in May. After waiting too long to buy a ticket to his solo show at Schubas in June and missing my chance (it sold out really fast!), I was desperate. I even played with the idea of travelling to his hometown of Austin, TX or to a nearby Midwestern state to see him play. But work kept me from any road trips, and I was pretty bummed. Luckily, he did play a few songs the day of the Schubas show through a live-streamed webcast on Audiotree.tv, a Chicago-based music studio that broadcasts live performances, so my thirst for Shakey's upbeat picking patterns and raspy vocals was temporarily quenched.
But finally, I saw a post to his Facebook page announcing more tour dates - he would be coming back to Chicago in September to play at Metro in Wrigleyville! Perfect. I bought my ticket as soon as it went on sale, completely disregarding the actual headlining band, Shovels and Rope (whoops, my b). When the show came around, I made sure to get there plenty early, and did what I normally do when I go to a concert alone: headed for the bar. (don't judge me!) I wasn't sure what kind of venue Metro would be - sure, I did my share of GoogleMaps stalking (thanks to street view and inside view!) and Yelp-review reading, but it primarily caters to a rock sound, so I was a little nervous about going alone. When I walked through the doors, I was greeted by opposing staircases (flashback to Aragon Ballroom). Turns out you walk up a flight to get to the main-stage level, and then you can go up another to get to the second-level balcony. SCORE.
I should explain that I'm not a very tall person. Which unfortunately can make it difficult to see/take pics when attending a show at a place like Schubas, where there's only one level and the stage is set pretty low. So I was pretty pumped to have 1. arrived early enough so that only a few people were there, and 2. found a spot that would have zero heads to obstruct my view! I grabbed a beer and claimed my spot at the balcony, pretty much dead center, ready and waiting and excited for Shakey.
Now, you should know that Shakey Graves, also known as Alejandro Rose-Garcia, is a one-man-band. He travels with an old suitcase that he's fashioned into a sort of kick drum with tambourine attached, plays a slightly distorted guitar, and sings - talk about multi-tasking. His songs are folksy, with a little bit of that southern rock feel (he is from Austin after all) and a touch of blues. Lyrics that are out of the ordinary (basically not all about mushy feelings or about getting drunk at the club) and he sings with a raspy and very controlled voice. A particularly interesting thing that I've come to realize about Shakey is that he performs his songs a little differently each time. So if you listen to the studio version of his album Roll The Bones (streamed for free on his website here), the songs sound significantly different from his live versions. I think his live versions are better because they're a bit more raw and unpredictable, but there's more depth (aka more instruments and layered vocals) in the album version, obviously. But still, it seems that no two live performances are exactly the same.
Anyway, Shakey was definitely an opener that a lot of people (like me) came specifically to see. He played a lot of the songs I'm familiar with like "Late July", "Built to Roam", "Roll The Bones", and "Word of Mouth". He gave a funny story about the song "Georgia Moon" and how it was about some moonshine that he picked up once while driving through the deep south. I posted a video I shot of "Roll The Bones" on my Live Videos page so check that out if you want. Shakey Graves plays with an upbeat tempo that'll get your legs moving, and you just can't help but fall for that sweet, sweet guitar picking. Plus, he showed up onstage in a full suit, which he said was new for the occasion, and his super hipster fedora.
Oh, another thing that my musicsoul/nerd self enjoyed was that after his (awesome) performance, he proceeded to take down his own set - apparently he can fit everything he needs (microphone head, cords, picks, drum pedals, etc) into one leather hipster messenger bag! ha I found it really amusing to watch..and also was impressed that he did that himself (usually a stage crew does that, right?).
Ok, I'll stop gushing about Shakey Graves. See my next post about the actual headliner of that night, Shovels and Rope.
But seriously, go see him if he comes your way!! You'll fall in love, I promise.
Think: Gary Clark, Jr.; Mumford and Sons; Reignwolf (in a way)