Those who experienced Alejandro Rose-Garcia first as Julie Taylor’s disappointing love interest on Friday Night Lights (Coach: not a big fan) were screaming “THE SWEEEDE” at Shakey Graves’ sold-out show last Thursday at The Neptune. Niche notoriety as an actor seems to have carried seamlessly to Rose-Garcia’s nu-folk stardom—there was a palpable feeling of adoration as he took the stage with just a guitar and makeshift kick drum converted from a worn Samsonite suitcase. Americana is embodied in every way—a Texas flag draped over a synth iconizes the band, jokingly named after an Indian ghost story.
The band is touring their second full-length album, And The War Came, joined by folk quartet The Barr Brothers.
There’s something immediately disarming about Shakey Graves. A lack of pretense, an easy presence, an intimacy with audience that feels both entirely earnest and derivative of a career in acting. I think fans experience an emotional resonance (or purely uplifted) with his sense of sheer joy—through changing sonic poles, he’s visibly, fervently transported. Dude’s here to have fun.
Shakey takes a mathematical approach to songwriting and a live set. The entrancement felt at his shows is intentional; Graves calculates a balance between very loud and very quiet, fast and slow tempos, so that the body and mind engage, leaning into the change. He knows when/how much the audience can accept a sad, slow song. The theater taught him how to read a crowd.
The effect is very much real: high-energy radio hits and soft ballads command almost equal attention. Shakey organically engages the audience. In “Chinatown,” he calls for a collective trumpet solo (see forgiving, endearing gestures of encouragement):
Drummer Chris ‘Boo’ Boosahda and guitarist Patrick O’Conner join Rose-Garcia mid-set, rounding out the one-man band.
Words//Video//Photo by Cassandra Croft
Photos By Adam Richert