June 5th, 2015
The Majestic Theater
Story and Photos by: DJ Zach Micklea (@OUUnderground)
Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name Shakey Graves, hails from the capital of the lone star state in Austin, Texas. His music has proven quite difficult to describe as he mixes bluegrass, rock and roll and country elements in his songs. His voice is a puzzle with even more pieces. The Texas-native can be heard chanting, howling, screaming, slurring and even dialoguing on his albums.
The name “Shakey Graves” came in 2007 when playing at Old Settler’s Music Festival. He and his friends were giving each other Indian names around a campfire, and the name stuck.
Rising to fame in late 2014 after an appearance on Conan, Shakey Graves began landing spots on multiple television shows including Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Shakey Graves performed Friday, June 5 in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 2,000 fans at the Majestic in Detroit. The stage was beautifully lit with the spotlight on a Texas flag, which was draped over a keyboard. Before the show started, the line at the bar looked endless. The beer was nearly as warm as the congested theater, but that was not taking anything away from the enjoyment of the concertgoers, who were laughing and dancing to “Pompeii” by Bastille playing over the speakers.
The show’s opener was a female singer by the name of Carson McHone. Like Shakey Graves, she too was from Austin, Texas. Her set started as a solo performance with an acoustic guitar. The venue was so loud that it proved difficult to hear McHone. After her first song, a guitarist, a drummer and a bass player joined her on stage. After the first couple songs, she had won the crowd over. Some pulled out lighters to wave and some began line dancing.
It became clear these musicians were truly living their dreams. The set was a perfect blend of old-school hopscotch country and modern day pop. It was a breath of fresh air to see artists like these on stage playing beautiful music rather than pop stars kissing rappers who do not like to be kissed.
As if the passion being projected throughout the theater was not enough, McHone’s breath-taking voice nearly floored the crowd. Sounding similar to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, McHone sang loud and she sang hard. She played for nearly an hour and as she walked off stage, those in attendance gave her a thundering round of applause.
At this point in the night, the venue was completely packed. Slowly, the entire audience quieted and awaited the man they all came to see.
It was time.
Shakey Graves ascended to the left side of the stage while the crowd greeted him with a passionate welcoming to the Motor City. Joining him on stage were guitar player, Patrick O’Connor and drummer, Chris Boosahda. The set began with an unfamiliar song. It was a slow build of the bass drum with bluesy guitar licks sprinkled in between. This build led to what could be considered perhaps his most complex track, “If Not for You.” However, this version was not parallel with the studio recording of the song. It was much slower and had a sentimental feeling.
In contrast to an overwhelming number of artists, Shakey Graves plays each song differently during a live set. It gives the audience a real reason to come down to Midtown Detroit to watch him play. This unique factor cannot be heard on any of his albums.
The second song began with very loud tribal drums, which led to the title track of his debut album, “Roll the Bones.” Again, this song was played very differently than the recorded studio version.
After a couple more songs, O’Connor and Boosahda left the stage for Shakey Graves to play some acoustic solo songs. Some of the songs included “Pansy Waltz” from his most recent album, And the War Came, as well as “Proper Fence” from Roll the Bones.
In between songs, Shakey Graves played with the crowd. He talked to people close enough to hear him, he danced, and even played “Push” by Salt & Peppa.
When the band rejoined him, McHone took center stage. The four of them played the hit song, “Dearly Departed,” with McHone singing the part of Esmé Patterson — a folk singer heard on three tracks from And the War Came.
This very unique and intimate set went on for over two hours and each minute was better than the last. To see such a talent perform on stage so effortlessly was an absolute privilege. Shakey Graves thanks the crowd and was overwhelmed by the response. The crowd screamed for over two minutes and it appeared to have brought a tear to the eye of the humble musician.
Shakey Graves exited the stage only to be brought back by an encore-demanding audience. He played one of his more bluegrass ballads, “Hard Wired.” During the song, a female fan joined him on stage, and the two exchange words. It was unclear what was said, but they hugged and she jumped back into the sold out crowd.
When the song ended, the audience gave Shakey Graves one last ovation. The lights in the venue flipped back on and the show was over. The performance was well received by the attendees.
“The show was moving,” Anna Hoffman, a fan, said. “It was life-changing.”
The fan that jumped on stage — a girl named Tori Poloski — said, when asked why she did it, “When am I ever going to have the chance to do it again?”
Her friends forced her to jump on stage to ask Shakey Graves if she could do something very unique. “I asked if I could sing with him,” Poloski said. “He said ‘I’m sorry. Not right now.’ So maybe we will another time.”
When it was all said and done, the show was a very unique experience. Shakey Graves truly is one of the most talented musicians in the music industry today. His ability to mix different styles of music while staying true to the music’s roots is something to behold. The show was a spectacle of musical bliss; art in its truest form.