ACL Live Review: Shakey Graves
One-man-band no more
By Abby Johnston,
12:00PM, Mon. Oct. 8, 2018
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.
“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.