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Concert Review: Shakey Graves

Cassandra Zahran Cassandra Zahran Concert Review: Shakey GravesPhoto by Michelle Gaines.
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One-man band, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, also known as Shakey Graves, showcased his talent for old school folk and rock ‘n’ roll at Newport Music Hall on Monday night. The CD102.5 presented show brought a rowdy crowd to the venue that night, the entire floor level hootin’ and hollerin’ prior to Alejandro’s set.

After recently playing Nelsonville and Firefly Music Festival, Shakey Graves’s unique folk-rock style is continuing to grasp the attention of folk, blues and rock lovers. I’ve heard what seems like hundreds of fantastic things about Shakey Graves, and to my surprise, the band was comprised of one Texan gentleman. I had walked into the show with a biased opinion, anxious to discover what everybody else has already discovered about this rising one-piece. Alejandro took the stage in his signature white tank top, wearing a cowboy hat and jeans, standing in front of a confederate flag. Immediately as Alejandro began playing, it was evident he was a master at guitar picking. He oscillated between sweet, soft melodies, only then to climax to gritty, rock ‘n’ roll chorus lines. This is what I enjoyed– the spontaneity. He kept the audience’s attention precisely. As the crowd watched the rapid movement of his fingers, we were witnessing Alejandro manipulate every inch of his guitar, changing the time signature entirely in the middle of the song. As his lips barely moved, Alejandro’s scruffy voice was rough and aggressive, perfectly harmonious with the unpredictable movement in his songs. As Alejandro serenaded the crowd, I couldn’t understand his lyrics through the grunted vocals. This little mystery was charming to me, and I hadn’t felt as if anything was lost in translation. The inflection in his voice and octave changes displayed his emotions very clearly, working with his one instrumental piece to further communicate his message.

Alejandro is unique in the manner that he doesn’t demand attention. There are many subtleties that lie within Alejandro’s composition and lyrics that make Shakey Graves exceed amongst other folk/indie folk/blues rock bands. As I appreciate Alejandro’s musical capabilities, I also question his versatility as a musician. Each track resembled the same pattern– the fact the track didn’t follow a pattern. His harsh start ‘n’ stop patterns were mimicked amongst his other pieces, reaching emotional highs and lows in just about every song. Each track glazed over bluesy folk rock, touching on multiple genres in the matter of 2 minutes. Each song lost a little bit of it’s identity. The similarity I see in Alejandro’s tracks doesn’t allude to the fact he isn’t writing complex pieces– he is. Shakey Graves has wonderful potential to stretch his creative flexibility as a musician and performer.  As the audience sang along and embarked on this emotional roller coaster ride with Alejandro, It was apparent how vulnerable the man was with his fans. He is wonderfully desperate to share his music, performing with confidence and without hesitation. Similar to a grandfather sharing a folklore around the fire with his friends and family, Shakey Graves shares story after story, creating personal relationships with his listeners.

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