Being a popular musician in Austin requires a degree of accessibility and the feeling that you probably have some mutual Facebook friends. You have probably seen them perform at local venues and maybe read some blog posts about them. When you see them around town, you don’t run up to them with your cell phone ready to snap a pic and you definitely don’t ask for an autograph. A knowing nod is standard, perhaps a “great show the other night” because you are cool like that (you live in Austin so obviously you are).
At the pinnacle of the Austin music scene is Alejandro Rose-Garcia, more commonly known by his stage name Shakey Graves. He seems to have played everywhere, be universally loved by anyone in the Austin music scene, and captures the attention of every person within hearing distance of his kick-drum. Heck, the City of Austin has officially sanctioned February 9th as Shakey Graves’ day. Pretty legit.
Performing as an official SXSW artist for the first time, he was that Austin-based artist that every visitor was proud to say they saw. Now he is confirmed to play Blues on the Green and Austin City Limits plus a summer tour with two other Austin favorites, Wild Child and Marmalakes. As Shakey’s star continues to rise, I make sure to catch his impassioned one-man shows whenever possible. His performance at Holy Mountain this month was his last in Austin for a while and it’s starting to feel like we won’t be seeing him at venues this size much in the future.
Playing to a capacity crowd at the new and much improved Holy Mountain (formerly Beauty Bar), the set began with his familiar guitar picking. His brand of lo-fi blues inspired songs are played in open D, which creates a rustic yet fresh sound. Some songs tell humble stories of city boys in country clothes and lazy summer living (things we know all too well in Austin). Others speak of themes that would make Woody Guthrie proud, lamenting about the rambling life and a date with the electric chair. Keeping a simple beat with a tambourine on one foot and a homemade suitcase kick-drum on the other, the pace steadily picked up until it reached the feverish pitch that crowd has come to expect. Each song ended in a firestorm of guitar picking and foot stompin’ leaving everyone hungry for more. Shakey reaches a transcendent state as the raw sound from his gleaming guitar mixes with the illuminating songwriting. Exuding rhythm with every twitch, stomp and strum, he pours his entire being into each note and word, carrying the audience through the performance. After his set comes to a close, Shakey Graves returns to his mortal embodiment as Alejandro. You may see Alejandro around town, but you won’t be see Shakey Graves until his name is called at Zilker Park this summer performing in front of thousands.
– Submitted by Hayden Bernstein, Client Satisfaction