As I walked through Massey Hall’s doors to find my seat, I was met with a sea of fans equally excited to see Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known as Shakey Graves. As anticipation grew, the crowd became almost unbearably loud before the lights went down and the opening act made their way onstage. Suddenly, the hall went quiet, but only for a moment…
The opener, And The Kids, started out in Northampton, Massachusetts in 2015, and have released two albums, Turn to Each Other and Friends Share Lovers. Their genre of music is described as rock, but, from what I heard, I think the term indie rock would be a better fit. Overall, this band was a decent start for the evening, and, having only been in the music world for a little over two years, they have definite potential to make something of themselves.
Watch And The Kids performing as part of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert series.
Shakey Graves began his journey in music long before his first official album. Originally, Shakey was a one-man band and usually armed with his tambourine and kick drum (made from a suitcase). To this day, when he performs solo, he continues to use them. In 2011 he released his first album Roll the Bones and, since then, has graced his fans with six more albums including his newest addition, Can’t Wake Up, which was released at the beginning of May.
His tour, “Sleepwalker”, began in April in Minneapolis and is ending in August in Morrison, Colorado. After the opening act exited, the whole “sleepwalker” atmosphere started to take shape. Even the stage crew seemed to be in on it – they were dressed up in Mexican wrestler masks, something totally random much like the odd, surreal things that can happen in a dream. There were also cutout silhouettes of a city skyline with big, puffy white clouds hovering overhead. And, to add a bit of Shakey Graves quirkiness to his concert, the cutouts stood beside a bunch of old TVs that were set to the “static” channel. The lighting also contributed to the theme of the night with moody, neon colours adding to the dream-like feeling.
Shakey began his performance with “Counting Sheep”, a track from his new album, to set the tone for the show. His setlist was a mix of some of his newer and older songs, which is perfect for giving newer fans a taste of where he started and those forever fans a glimpse of what they could be seeing from him in the future.
Despite the dreamy feeling, the audience was very awake and full of energy. If you’ve ever been to Massey Hall you know that it’s a seated venue, but, by the end of the fifth song, everyone was on their feet and stayed that way for the rest of the night; a testament to the fact that Shakey and his crew know how to put on a great show! Throughout the evening he kept the audience dancing and happy, even chatting with us a little bit, giving us an insider look into where some songs came from and how they formed into what they are now.
By the end of the night, every person in Massey Hall had been on their feet, dancing and singing along for most of the concert. His supposed last song of the night was a solo number, “Late July”, and, after that, he tried to say goodnight to the city of Toronto. However, the crowd had other ideas; we clapped, cheered, and screamed, “Shakey, Shakey, Shakey” until he had no choice but to do an encore! We got a total of three extra songs that night. I think it’s safe to say that by the end, everyone was pleased with his performance.
Take a listen to the Shakey Graves’ jam “Kids These Days” here.
Shakey Graves’ Setlist:
01. Counting Sheep
02. Cops and Robbers
03. Dining Alone
04. Pansy Waltz
06. The Perfect Parts
08. Nobody’s Fool
09. Roll the Bones
10. Kids These Days
11. Family and Genus
12. Climb on the Cross
13. Big Bad Wolf
14. Mansion Door
15. Late July
16. Only Son
17. Foot of Your Bed
18. Dearly Departed