Last Thursday night at Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas was a flurry of anticipation, as Shakey Graves graced the stage on his new tour celebrating the release of latest album Movie of the Week.
Opening act flipturn from Fernandina Beach, FL had their own sea of fans in attendance as well – dripping in sweat and singing the songs back to the band at the front of the stage.
The rising indie band’s 2022 debut album Shadowglow was produced by Jon Gilbert (Mt. Joy, Adam Melchor), and the band shares the Dualtone Records label with Shakey Graves, Abraham Alexander, The Lumineers and more.
flipturn’s frontman Dillon Basse carries an effortless charisma on stage, with vocal styles feeling reminiscent of early Decemberists, Death Cab For Cutie and even a little Radiohead.
One of the most striking things about flipturn was the utter raving fandom in the crowd, some people even crying during songs.
Their biggest fans seem to be in their early 20s – which would make sense considering that the band members themselves are all college age. The band’s young exuberance and hunger can be felt through their seamlessness on stage, obviously in the zone as they played Longhorn Ballroom.
As flipturn left the stage and the setup began to change over, the crowd creeped closer to the front – everyone hoping to get just a little more of the action that awaited them from the next performance.
Shakey Graves and the whole band took the stage in darkness; and as the lights came up, someone from the crowd yelled, “Where’s Spooky Wagons?!”
Frontman and mastermind of the project Alejandro Rose-Garcia cracked a smile.
The first notes of “Family and Genus” rang through the Longhorn Ballroom, and “Ready or Not,” here came the show.
There’s something comforting about the way this ensemble creates a vibe. It felt like being around a campfire with your favorite band, being told stories of old through the lens of music.
The songs from Movie of the Week are the soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist. The ebb and flow within the album are characteristic of a fever dream, weaving a tapestry of sensations for every receptor in the brain.
“There was this time I was having a dream that I was listening to a David Bowie album that didn’t exist,” Shakey Graves said on stage, as the crowd jeered. “And I woke up, and I remembered the first nub of that song. So I ran upstairs and I recorded it. And it’s this.”
The band sprang into the first notes of “Limbo,” the second track from Movie.
Rose-Garcia mentioned that much of the album was written during the pandemic, and that he was grateful to have the opportunity to work with the talented musicians on the project.
“Usually all these guys would be busy doing stuff too, but we were all stuck at home,” he said. “I loved sitting at my house doing nothing. If you find yourself bullying yourself out of doing that, do less. Relax a while.”
The next song followed the album tracklist, “Evergreen,” whose lyrics reflect that sentiment: “Please don’t wake me, please don’t call/Let me rest, yeah let me be/Overgrown and evergeen.”
Shakey Graves feels like a new brand of empathetic rock star. There’s a sensitivity in the music that creates space for compassion, while fulfilling the ever-rebellious spirit of rock & roll. A true idol of modern times.
During the set, the band took a break as Shakey played a handful of solo songs with his suitcase drum, including “If Not For You” from his 2014 debut album And The War Came, a cover of “Blue Jay Way” written by George Harrison,”Bully’s Lament,”and infamous “Roll The Bones.”
At the end of RTB, he put the microphone to his throat and you could hear his heartbeat. It was a radically artistic moment during the set that gave reminder to the human inside and behind these pieces of genius.
The band returned to the stage, and continued “Big In The World,” “Century City,” “Lowlife,” and “Was Here,” from Movie of the Week – all bangers in their own right. They gave a call back to Shakey Graves early days with “Pansy Waltz” from his debut album, and the rough and tumble lifestyle that came during those times.
The last song of the set was a solo performance of “Tomorrow,” before the 2-song full-band encore of “Counting Sheep” and “Dearly Departed.”
Witnessing this Shakey Graves show was like attending a masterclass in cinematic performance; like staring into the sun during an eclipse.
It was intimate, it was grand, it was down to earth and in the clouds. It was a kaleidoscope of light and sound.
Shakey Graves hits the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on November 1 (with Rayland Baxter), and continues tour until November 19, with stops in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, DC, Ohio, California, Colorado and more. Find dates and tickets on their website.
Also, check out the interactive element for Movie of the Week on the Shakey Graves website, where you enter a prompt to create your own custom soundtrack and artwork. It’s rather brilliant.
Jessica Waffles is a freelance photographer/videographer and regular contributor to KXT.
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