Out walked on stage Alejandro Rose-Garcia as Shakey Graves, the guy in overalls and Nikes from Texas whose name was christened around a campfire.
The first time I saw or heard of Shakey Graves was in a video of him playing solo in a field. So, when I walked into The Orpheum and saw that he had a full band behind him I thought it was wild because I’d always thought he was a solo show. I walked in with a vintage image of him in my mind. It was dope because his band was there creating an explosive wall of sound, but I was also left thinking, that I wouldn’t get to see him as I thought he was, a solo artist. However, in another plot twist, the whole middle portion of the set was him solo on stage, giving the crowd the best of both worlds.
Opening the night reminiscing about his first Canadian show which was at the Electric Unicorn, right here in Vancouver, and how he was offered LSD, the tone was set for a Texas-infused psychedelic show. When they hit their first note, the giant columns behind the group lit up in purple and red, setting the scene and creating a dramatic visual to back the rest of the evening.
Shakey Graves has a wild way of playing the guitar. He can fingerpick with the best of them, while simultaneously bringing in an unorthodox I-don’t-give-a-fuck rock-and-roll attitude, creating his unique southern sound. He just holds it and lets it ring out. You don’t hear the curated inaccuracy on the record that you do live. As if he’s been tamed in the recording studio. He really got to show off the use of his own raspy vocals, his voice almost acting as a second instrument accompanying his guitar, when he played his rendition of The Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind’, adding his own quirky, psychedelic southern sound to a cult classic.
His band came back out for ‘Dearly Departed’, adding explosive energy to the show. A true testament to how tight a group they are, when their bass crapped out, Shakey Graves chimed in, with a ba-na-ba-na, jokingly filling in the void flawlessly.
In my opinion, if you ever have the chance to see Shakey Graves, take it. As well as I know his music, he wasn’t what I expected – I’d take a live show by Shakey Graves over the record any day.