Event Coverage: Shakey Graves, October 4, 2018

Originally published by Imprint Entertainment

The Tabernacle in downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park District looks like a galleon on the inside with different compartments in which to hang out. Two or three bars covered in hand-painted art in every room, at the top of every staircase. Hand-painted art all over the walls, even black stars painted on some of the ventilation shafts hanging above. There’s a large room in the middle of the venue with a couch area where people can mingle before and after performances, two ATM machines, a photo booth, and a large merch area built like the merch tents you would find at a music festival complete with Tabernacle shirts, hats, and scarves. This room also leads to a smoking area overlooked by a brightly lit Ferris wheel.

There is plenty of standing space as well as a seated balcony in the stage room where The Wild Reeds play songs from their debut and sophomore albums. They play indie folk-rock ballads and anthems, complete with some surprisingly body-moving breakdowns.

The Wild Reeds released their sophomore full-length album, The World We Built, last year from Dualtone Records. There are some cute decorations hanging around the stage including some colorful fuzzy balls on the keyboard. A sign made of twist balloons spelling out “PARTY” is propped up above the kick drum. Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe occasionally switch instruments and lead vocal duty. Lee looks so excited to lead. They’re all excited to rock with each other.

There’s an accordion the size of a small microwave set up next to the keyboard. I wasn’t sure what Kinsey Lee was doing when she was pushing the air door in and out, but she seemed really into it. Deep into their set, bassist Sharon Silva asks the audience, “Have you ever felt like nobody wants to listen to you?” as a lead into a song, and this is the type of full honesty they display on stage. The Wild Reeds play passionately as if every song was a point they wanted to make in a heated argument.

Several minutes pass after their set and out steps Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who goes by the name of Shakey Graves, in front of four tall screens projecting images of a bonfire and a running river. He steps out alone with his hollow-body guitar, washed in projection light, and he begins to play “Nobody’s Fool,” the title song to his 2015 album. The lights pulse along with a steady kick drum. He has the presence of a full band and the swagger of a blues troubadour, the way he grooves with his guitar. He’s playing the kick drum and tambourine with his feet, allowing him to sway and keep a whiskey bar beat. The projected fire dances on his body, his face, jacket, snapback, and hollow body guitar.

After three songs, the rest of the band step out and get behind their instruments and the projection switches to something glitchy and pixelated, later switching again to changing color stripes in a racing motion with tire track pattern. The lights brighten and roam and the band look like a ragtag group of fun, humorous, and casual music makers.

Shakey Graves engages the crowd with hand gestures, his lead guitarist loses himself in guitar solos, and in the middle of the set, they play a hard rock blues rendition of “Something in the Way” by Nirvana followed by the first song of his fifth studio album, Can’t Wake Up, released earlier this year via Dualtone Records. At one point Shakey Graves holds the mic and soon his hat is off so he can shake his hair. Girls cheer when he takes off his jacket. There’s a fun call and response moment when he recklessly grabs the mic stand and carries it around so he can sing in an alternating fashion with the crowd.

He finishes the set alone in fire the same way he started, his gutar and his foot on the pedal of a kick drum. A nice way to frame the set.