ACL Live Review: Shakey Graves

One-man-band no more

Shakey Graves once packed the back room of Hole in the Wall, often dressed in suspenders and toting his suitcase kick drum. That rise from a local pub darling to legitimate rock star seemed to be on the troubadour’s mind at his sprawling Sunday evening ACL set on the relatively intimate Barton Springs stage.

Photo by Gary Miller

“I am from right here in Austin, Texas, and this is insane,” Alejandro Rose-Garcia roared to the throng, noting later in the set that he had grown up playing in Zilker Park.

“Freeze tag, not music,” he quipped.

As the fan base has swelled, so too has his band setup, but Rose-Garcia began the set much as he had for years: onstage alone. He punched up acoustic versions to songs reminiscent of his HITW days, the chill picking of “Nobody’s Fool” becoming an electric cavalcade. The urgency of early fan favorite “Roll the Bones” whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

After being joined by a trio of backers, all resemblance to his folksy aesthetic vanished. Hair dreaded by sweat, he thrashed through the guitar line on “The Perfect Parts” and Nirvana’s “Something in the Way.” Putting a finer point on the distance from his earlier one-man incarnation, he noted as he launched into the “Garth Nazarth” trilogy (“Dining Alone,” “Pansy Waltz,” “Excuses”) that although his songs sometimes feel confessional, they’re often based on fictional characters like the pitiable Garth.

A full band draws emphasis away from his raspy, intoxicating vocals and puts it squarely on the booming sonics. Yet, as Rose-Garcia launched into 2014 single “Dearly Departed,” its oohed chorus echoed across the park and some of us began feeling a little nostalgic.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Shakey Graves
Shakey Graves’ SXSW Scavenger Hunt
Shakey Graves’ SXSW Scavenger Hunt
Tape Quest encourages fans to explore Austin

Kevin Curtin, March 12, 2018

ACL Review: Shakey Graves
Shakey Graves
Austin troubadour works his homies

Doug Freeman, Oct. 11, 2015

More by Abby Johnston
Books, Box Sets & Reviews
The Beatles
Abbey Road (Super Deluxe Edition) (Record Review)

Dec. 6, 2019

Fall Platters
Madi Meeks
Madi Meeks (Record Review)

Nov. 29, 2019


Shakey Graves, ACL Fest 2018, ACL Music Fest 2018, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Garth Nazarth

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle