The rugged and handsome southern gent that goes by the stage name, Shakey Graves, graced us with his presence this past Monday at Virgin Mobile’s Corona Theatre along with Those Darlins. The pretentious hipster in me seriously doubted that this show would be of any interest to anyone, but the venue started filling up a few songs into the opening band’s set. By the time Shakey Graves was due to come up on stage, the Corona Theatre was filled almost to capacity.
The first act that took the stage was female fronted, Those Darlins, who are accompanying Shakey Graves for the duration of this tour. I wasn’t too crazy about them since it seemed as though they time-travelled from the 80s from Buttfuck Nowhere, and went from being the main act at their local watering hole to touring with Shakey Graves. The entire act, from their outfits (I swear I spotted fringe on the guitarist) to their Stevie Nicks and Joan Jett like haircuts, was super gimmicky. This look, paired with the country bumpkin-esque music genre, did not cut it for me at all. Maybe, I just had a seriously bad case of the Mondays. Or maybe, it’s because I never grew up with classic rock, or country other than Johnny Cash, but this 80s wannabe cover band didn’t cut it for me.
Before getting into the Shakey Graves part of the review, I feel as though it is crucial to mention right off the bat that what you get on disc with Shakey Graves is not even close to what you’ll get in his live performances. On disc, you get a very soft and gentle sound, but at live shows or during live sessions, like on Audiotree Live (check it out, it’s somethin’ else!), you get a rawer, lively, and raspy sound.
So, after that interesting opening act, Shakey Graves danced up on stage to the sound of some gangster dancey song (haha, vague, I know). Dressed in a leather jacket and sweater, you could tell that this Texan was in no way thrilled about our cold Canadian weather, but that changed as things started to heat up quickly. The crowd got moving with the help of his music. He fed off our energy as well, and soon shed his layers and was in a t-shirt. He went into his first song, but very slowly; he teased the crowd by playing a longer instrumental bit than normal, pretending to play the opening riff then stopping. Eventually he started, opening his set with “Roll The Bones.”
The energy he exuded throughout the whole show was insane. He engaged the crowd the entire time, getting all of us to clap to the beat, and to sing along. That, paired with his commanding stage presence, showed that Shakey Graves was truly in his element on stage. Throughout the show he made it a point to showcase his multi-instrumental skills; his signature kick drum fashioned out of a suitcase, his various guitars, and his keyboard draped with a Texas flag all were featured on stage.
Despite the less than mediocre and gimmicky openers, Shakey Graves totally blew the show out of the water with his fun songs, incredible stage presence, and his undeniable musical prowess. Witnessing one of his live shows was truly something amazing and unique compared to the hundreds of other shows and artists I’ve gotten to see live.
Written and Photographed by Melissa Martella
*edited by Danielle Kenedy