Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name, Shakey Graves, performed with a full band at least part of the show for Tucson fans at the Rialto Theatre on June 20. Triple-digit heat did not stop the singer and his band from donning a suit and tie for the performance.
Opener Lauren Ruth Ward got the young crowd going with an energetic set of self-penned songs for 45 minutes.
AXS was able to see Graves’ live performance and here are our observations.
1) Graves is a triple threat entertainer
A lot of us can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. This is not the case with Graves. He became widely known for his ability to play guitar, sing and play the kick drum and tambourine at the same time. He does it extremely well (click here to see it).
The show began in complete darkness as Graves took the stage. He sat down in front of his suitcase that was rigged to be a kick drum on one side and a tambourine on the other side. He began singing and playing “Only Son.”
The crowd was wild with anticipation and excitement even though the song was slow and they couldn’t see their raspy-voiced hero. When the dim lights were projected on stage, everything was saturated in red for the rest of the show. Red must be his favorite color.
2) The third element of the triple threat is Graves’ songwriting
There is no denying that Graves has a way with words. Graves released his first album in 2011. He has followed the first album with six more albums. His songs are melodic pictures of American life. He has stories to tell and he tells his stories brilliantly. Many of the stories come from his life experiences. He mentioned as he introduced “Foot of Your Bed” that this was a love song. He tends to veer away from writing love songs because they make him uncomfortable.
3) A snappy tour supporting Graves’ new album
This tour is in support of Can’t Wake Up which was released in early May of 2018. The tour is aptly named the ‘Sleepwalker’ tour. The stage was set in a dreamlike, surreal atmosphere. There were cutout silhouettes of a city skyline with puffy white clouds hovering overhead. The cutouts stood next to three old TVs that were set to display static. Can’t Wake Up is a departure from Graves’ older albums from the standpoint of being more produced and containing more ‘indie’ compositions reflecting the 1990s.
4) Graves’ songs defy categories
One would surmise from the performers’ suits and cowboy hats that they are a country band. Nothing could be further from the truth There seems to be an online argument as to what genre Graves’ music inhabits. He has been labeled a folk, country, rock, blues and an indie singer. This show certainly had a nostalgic rockabilly vibe much like Dave Alvin. Graves mentioned in a video that maybe next time, he will tackle “jazz metal” or “trip hop.”
5) A killer touring band
Three band members joined Graves after the first two songs and had just the right knack for interplaying with Graves’ brilliant fingerpicking. The band members added keyboards, drums and guitar. Mid way through the show, the band left the stage and Graves returned to his one-man band element for four songs.
Graves’ star is rising rapidly. No “sour dreams” for Austin’s native son. His appeal has much to do with his interactions with the fans during the show. Probably unbeknownst to him, Graves radiates a subtle sexuality that is appealing to both genders. It never hurts to have that quality in show business. For a complete set list, please click here.
Grab your tickets to see Shakey Graves live here.