Shakey Graves on Theme

Ella Moss / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Peace, love, and connection. Those were the leading themes of Shakey Graves’ concert at the Roadrunner in Allston. On Tuesday, November 14th, they delivered a captivating performance, accompanied by their opener, Rayland Baxter. 

Baxter gave a solid introduction to the show; he was enjoyable to listen to at the moment but overall wasn’t particularly memorable. The star of the opening show was drummer Bobbye Jean Hall, who carried most of the songs with his energetic devotion to the drum beats and solos. 

After Baxter played his last solo tune, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, known famously as Shakey Graves, emerged. Immediately, Shakey Graves announced that the show had been uniquely assembled for the Boston crowd. This exclusivity was defined by a theme, one that the artist encouraged the crowd to guess at. He began the show with “Hard Wired,” a sweet unaccompanied tune about stability and connection. He played three tracks and then returned to the crowd, asking what they believed the show’s theme could be. 

The crowd’s answers are less important than Shakey Graves’ interactions with the fans. He leaned in to hear what they had to say, genuinely interested in what they took from the performance. However, he soon continued on, playing hits from the new album Movie of the Week including “Ready or Not” and “Century City.” 

Mid-way through the night, Shakey Graves stopped the show again to tell a comically fake story conducive to the theme. He described how he’s been going through a phase of his life that he assured the crowd everyone must go through at some point, even if they don’t think they will. In summary, catalyzed by a nasty divorce, he supposedly goes into a depression that leads him to impulsively move to Mexico where he grows marijuana in the back garden. Eventually caught by the police and returned to America, he’s killed via electric chair for his crimes. His inherently funny nature drew Shakey Graves closer to the crowd, connected through laughter, and the story introduced the next song, “Late July.”

Another sweet moment happened during the band’s performance of “Pansy Waltz.” Towards the end of the song, the lyrics said: “You know, I should’ve been a better friend to you, Yeah, I should’ve been a better friend to you.” While singing these lyrics, Shakey Graves began pointing out members of the audience. He repeated this around twenty times before proceeding to the rest of the song, ending with a knowing nod, saying, “Yeah, you should’ve been a better friend of mine.”  His performance felt sincere and loving. He said to them what many people don’t get to hear very often, and so whether it came from Shakey Graves or anyone else, it was a powerful connected moment between an artist and his fans. 

Shakey Graves delivered a fantastic final quarter, truly selling every moment of his new album Movie of the Week. He ended the show with “Dearly Departed,” but returned for the encore, performing a cover of the Beatles’ “Blue Jay Way” and resoundingly finishing off with “Roll the Bones,” an upbeat and memorable final stand. 

Shakey Graves left the stage declaring the theme of the show was, confusingly, a peregrine falcon–of course!–and the audience left the venue to the tune of the Jurassic Park theme. 

The true theme of the concert was never revealed, however, the close relationship between Shakey Graves and the Boston crowd was evident throughout the night. The amount of love Shakey Graves showed for the fans simply through his expressions, his presence, and the connection he formed with them was incredibly refreshing to see. He maintained this theme of love and connection all night, keeping the crowd captivated and loving him right back. In this way, maybe a lack of theme was the point. There didn’t need to be a definitive label on the music, the only thing needed was a way to bring the artist and the audience closer together.

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