Shakey Graves–The Sweaty, Gritty, Foot-Stomping Show that Took Over Palace

“Eager, Young and Qualified”

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 09 1
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

I rushed to Palace Theatre Saturday night frazzled and teeming with anticipation–butterflies and all. I was not guaranteed a photo pass, but I showed up at will call anyways and managed to sweet talk my way in. I have been wanting to see Shakey Graves’ Alejandro Rose-Garcia ever since I swooned over him in TV show “Friday Night Lights.”

Yup, haha that’s right. I discovered “Ali” back in the mid-2000’s when the F-list actor played the reoccurring role of rebellious teenage heartthrob in a show my Mom and I binge watched together. But, that was only the beginning–before I knew that a flighty crush with a folk artist would grow into an ongoing love affair with ragged, weather-beaten, rural-sounding bands with gnarled voices and even burlier beards. I guess you could say, when it comes to male musicians, I have a type.

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 14 1
Shakey Graves by Kathleen Ambre

As Shakey Graves entered a blue-washed stage with his guitar, tambourine, and makeshift kick drum fashioned out of a suitcase, my grip tightened around my Canon. I’m here, I made it.

He began with a pulsing, finger-picking rhythm and soft murmurings of what I soon recognized to be crowd favorite, “Only Son.”

Well I used to be an only son (Yeah) My heart was but a gambler Heavy as a loaded gun And it howled above the weather

His voice has a way of leaping octaves–allaying lullabies to wayward whelps. Shakey flaunts a stylistically challenging brand of raspy mountain folk marked by his signature sonic curveballs. He lulls you in with a whisper, then shatters the silence with caustic guitar riffs and tortured howls.

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 10 1
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

One thing I appreciate about Shakey Graves, he is not only a multi-faceted musician that dabbles in multiple instruments. He’s a damn good multitasker. Now, I personally have a lot of respect for musicians like Whitney who can play drums and sing at the same time. But, Shakey can play guitar, kick drum, tambourine, and sing, all without missing a beat.

I made friends with this one guy after exiting the pit that has seen Shakey Graves six times now. I asked him what is favorite show was to date, without hesitation he mentioned the last time Shakey came to Minneapolis at First Ave’s main room two years ago. Opening song, he snapped a string on his guitar. Without pause, Shakey effortlessly picked up another one of his guitars–whilst keeping a rhythm with tambourine mind you–and continued playing.

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 08
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

“If I wasn’t up front, there is no way I would have even noticed he broke his guitar, it was seamless. The guy is that good.” When asked what his runner-up was for favorite shows, he confidently said, “Tonight.”

Mixing folk rock with a raw, stripped down acoustic charm, Austin’s Shakey Graves has managed to curate a comfortable stage presence laden with familiarity and intimacy.

Early in the set, he played my favorite track, “Tomorrow.” After snapping a few shots, I had to lower my lens and allow myself to revel in the words.

“But, you know you never trusted tomorrow Yeah, baby is that anyway to live your life?Well, you love this heart and this six string, girl But, they’ve been out outta tune (Yeah) For some time”

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 13 1
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

That line just unravels me. We all have been in an unreciprocated relationship where you are the one loving more, trusting more, wanting more–only to be left with scales tilted off-balance and often the idea that it was you that was not enough to make it work. The first time I heard this song was during a time in my life when I was in the trappings of such a relationship. He could never say “Baby tomorrow/ Oh I’ll be right there, I’ma be your man”

There’s no denying that Shakey Graves has a way with words–he speaks from his life experiences. Actually, I’ve noticed that he tends to steer clear of writing love songs. But hey, I guess sometimes a couple slip through.

It reminds me of one of his other gems off album And the War Came, “Dearly Departed.” I fell in love with this song when he played with Denver singer-songwriter Esmé Patterson live at Pandora House in Austin. The duet gets me every time. Beautiful, passionate vocal harmonies, boot stomps, a touch of electric guitar overtones, and lyrics capturing that hollow feeling of something that used to be but is no more.

Well you and I both know that the house is haunted And you and I both know that the ghost is me You used to catch me in your bed-sheets just a-rattling your chains Well back then baby, it didn’t seem so strange

Of course, I enjoyed all of the tracks he pulled from that 2014 album alongside “If Not for You” and fully electric, bluesy stand out “The Perfect Parts.” Visceral, angry howls and distorted amps, this song most definitely caters to the Black Keys, Gary Clark Jr. kind of fans. And, without a doubt, they were there that night. Mid-chorus there was so much movement in the crowd I ultimately had to put my camera down and join in. Shakey paused to take a swig from his red solo cup and cheers the crowd.

Well your lies will burn in alcohol To sterilize the perfect parts Well at least that’s a start

ShakeyGraves PalaceTheatre 20180929 web 03
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

Listening to his latest album that came out this May, Can’t Wake Up, it seems like Shakey Graves has been coloring outside the lines with new styles as of recent. While he alone often commanded the stage Saturday night, it was interesting to see him perform accompanied by a full band. This solo troubadour has traded in backroad, country folk for a blend of more indie-rock and pop.

And, he has company. Shakey was joined by three band members on keyboard, drums and guitar. However, they often escorted themselves off stage to leave Shakey to his one-man-band songs.

Shakey Graves Palace Theatre
Shakey Graves at Palace Theatre by Kathleen Ambre

Ultimately, he ended the night with aforementioned “Dearly Departed,” and throwback, “Late July”–a song about lust, murder, and the electric chair. “Eager, young and qualified,” he effortlessly plucks his guitar, clicks a tambourine with his heels, and lets out gravelly, grueling howls all while gleefully changing tempos and dynamics on a dime.

Shakey Graves Palace Theatre
Shakey Graves by Kathleen

His new shift towards psychedelic-rock and indie-pop soundscapes is quite different from what I am used to. With new album Can’t Wake Up, Shakey is well, shaking up his style. But, I think we all know that his stripped-down folk-pop singles will still stack higher on the Billboard charts. It’s fiery solos like “Late July” that prove Shakey Graves knows his strengths.

He is “Peak Shakey” when he rides that stage alone with nothing but his guitar, voice and stomping feet. And, of course the thousands of fans stomping along with him.

Written by Kathleen Ambre

Photographer | Designer | Writer | Chronic Creator


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *





Sting Shaggy The Armory Minneapolis September 30th 44/876 Tour

Sting And His Glorified Hype-man Shaggy Perform at The Armory

People in Minnesota: Luke Sawtell