Review: Shakey Graves brings sweat and spirit to the Palace

Saturday’s show was animated and energetic, filled with classic Americana grit.

Alejandro Rose-Garcia of Shakey Graves performs at Palace Theater on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 in Saint Paul. Rose-Garcia began the show solo, bringing his accompanying musicians on stage a few songs into the set.

Courtney Deutz

Alejandro Rose-Garcia of Shakey Graves performs at Palace Theater on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 in Saint Paul. Rose-Garcia began the show solo, bringing his accompanying musicians on stage a few songs into the set.

Ksenia Gorinshteyn

With foot-stomping, a dysfunctional microphone stand and hip swaying rivaling Elvis Presley, Shakey Graves brought Americana energy to the Palace Theatre on Saturday night.

The show began as lead singer Alejandro Rose-Garcia approached the microphone with a red Solo cup and perfectly-tuned acoustic guitar. The setting resembled a campfire in some ways: intimate and warm.

When Rose-Garcia began singing, the crowd pulled toward his voice and apparent charm.

There were three parts to the concert — an opening acoustic set, a full band performance and a closing acoustic set. The acoustic sets let Rose-Garcia’s humor shine as he sprinkled short anecdotes and remarks in between verses and songs. 

“Roll the Bones” was among the few songs he played that required heavy use of what appeared to be a suitcase drum. He alternated between the two pedals — one for a kick drum and one for a high hat — seamlessly and always on beat. Toward the end of the song, the beat built up so quickly that his playing resembled a quick and intense flamenco performance. 

Once the band came in, it was full grit and sweat. Band members entered with a bass, another electric guitar and a drum set, creating a fuller sound that mixed alternative rock with acoustic roots.

“Big Bad Wolf” acted as the warm-up for what would follow. Lyrics were shouted so passionately that voices cracked and heavy guitar riffs made ears ring. The music slowed down enough for Rose-Garcia to introduce the next portion of the show.

The trilogy of songs “Pansy Waltz,” “Dining Alone” and “Excuses” followed the narrative of a man who doesn’t take responsibility for his negative actions and complains about his life while doing nothing to fix it. 

The songs’ arrangement made the story clear, especially as Rose-Garcia added a theatrical flair to his performance. He pointed to concert goers as he sang, “You should’ve been a better friend of mine,” and swayed his hips enough to make fans mimic the act.

“The Perfect Parts” — the turning part of the show — came after the trilogy. It started calm, each member of the band grooving in their own space. Then the chorus hit. 

The lights flickered, the band members broke out of their designated spots and Rose-Garcia started yelling. He turned the mic to let the audience scream along with him, and the guitar pounded through the speakers.

There was so much movement between Rose-Garcia and the audience that, as soon as he went to take a swig out of his Solo cup, the mic stand fell over.

He threw his cup but continued to play his guitar. The audience continued to scream. 

They rode this energy to the final acoustic set and encore. The band brought it in for “Dearly Departed” before Rose-Garcia moved on to his final solo set, featuring “Tomorrow” and that same campfire feeling.

The Palace Theatre served as a perfect setting for Shakey Graves. The crowd gave each other room to dance along with the band — all dancing hard. 

The high intensity of the show mixed with the band’s intimacy created an atmosphere unlike any other concert. For a night, the venue transformed into a community of strangers happily screaming and swaying in unison.

Grade: A