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Shakey Graves: “If You Don’t Trust Anything, You’re Fucked.”

November 17, 2015

Shakey Graves 7Text and images by McCall Cox.

Shakey Graves brought his Americana sound to the Electric Factory on Saturday, along with some words of wisdom.

Those Darlins opened the show. The four piece band hails from Nashville, a detail evident in the twang of singerJessi “Darlin” Zazu. The group is comprised of Zazu, Nikki “Darlin” Kvarnes, Linwood Regensburg and Jordan Levine. The “Darlin” girls, a stage name adopted by the two women, shared both lead and back-up vocals. Both women also played the guitar while Regensburg played the bass and Levine was behind the drums. The quartet’s sound ranged from rock and roll to a country-indie collaboration. The band performed songs such as “Wild One,” “Guitar World” and “That Man,” and played for about 45 minutes.

As the lights dimmed for the main act, “Circle of Life,” the opening song from The Lion King, blared through the Electric Factory sound system, after which Shakey Graves took the stage. Shakey, otherwise known as Alejandro Rose-Garcia, walked out with an acoustic guitar and came to stand in front of the drum-cymbal combination disguised as a suitcase, which Rose-Garcia operates with each foot on a pedal while playing the guitar. Shakey Graves opened with the song “Word of Mouth,” stopping after a lyric to inform the audience that the line was bad advice.

“This show is going to be full of bad advice,” said Rose-Garcia, taking a moment to compare the lyrics to the balance of good and bad advice everyone receives in life, before continuing with the rest of the song.

Shakey Graves, which can operate as a one-man band, turned into an ensemble after Rose-Garcia was joined on stage by Pat O’Connor, Jon Shaw and Chris Boosahda. Boosahda played both the bass and drums during the shows, while O’Connor joined Rose-Garcia on guitar and Shaw manned the bass.

The band’s line-up continued to change as Rose-Garcia performed some songs solo, then brought out the other members to play other tracks. Shakey Graves performed songs such as “Roll the Bones,” “The Perfect Parts,” “Bully’s Lament” and “Where a Boy Once Stood.”

Before launching into the song “Tomorrow,” Rose-Garcia stopped to tell the audience the history of the song. He mentioned that he wrote the song when he was 16 and after forgetting the song for a while, he rediscovered the song a couple of years ago when he was 26. Rose-Garcia compared the two versions of himself as “16 year old shit-head me and 26 year old shit-head me” and found one commonality: “We were both afraid of a little thing called tomorrow.” While performing the song, the southern singer peppered the track with breaks to continue his story, discussing his fear of things not going according to plan or screwing things up.

“You can fuck up anything your heart desires,” he said.“You’re having a great night? You can still fuck that up.”

At the conclusion of the song, he told the audience, “The main thing the two shit head versions of me figured out is that you can’t be scared of somebody.”

Rose-Garcia continued to interact with the audience, feeding off the energy it provided. He encouraged a call and response from audience members during songs and talked to the audience between tracks.

As the show wrapped up, Rose-Garcia took a minute to introduce the other performers on stage before saying, “And I’ve been your host, Shakey Graves, from Austin, Texas.”

After the last song of the set, the four men bowed and exited the stage.

Rose-Garcia returned alone for a two-song encore, comprised of “Hard Wired” and “Late July.”

After the show, when Rose-Garcia was asked about the theme of good and bad advice and what the worst advice he had ever received, he simply responded, “I don’t really think there is any such thing as bad advice because I think all advice is inherently a little silly. But it’s important to listen to people, which is kind of what I mean by bad advice. So, everybody gives advice but you can give advice without being able to actually practice what you preach. It’s really easy.”

Similarly, when asked about advice he would give to others, he said, “Trust in something. Whether it’s yourself – you have to trust something. If you don’t trust anything, you’re fucked. And that’s kind of the trick of ‘don’t listen to anybody but don’t feel like you have to trust everybody.’ If you can find that middle ground—somewhere in between those two—you’ll be okay.”

Rose-Garcia says of Philadelphia: “I like the people of Philadelphia. Every time I’ve come to the city, I’ve really enjoyed myself.”

He concluded that this tour will be the last of the year and for a while as Shakey Graves has to head to the studio to write and record new music.

“We’re in the process of [writing new music],” he said. “This is kind of a send-off tour.”

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