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Shakey Graves at KAABOO 2016, September 18th. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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RECAP: A song can be very sexual. Not erotic per se. But sexual in that very basic rhythmic sense of the process: starting slow, warming things up, easing your way in, and then unleashing the fury and the passion, the agony and the ecstasy. You wouldn’t think it to look, what with the busker vibes, trucker cap, the dirty white tee, and an American flag draped over some old timey stage props, but it was there.

It starts off with Alejandro Rose-Garcia aka Shakey Graves playing some simple blues guitar. Still solo, he adds in his own kick drum and tambourine. You can’t really see the setup unless you’re close, but if you’ve ever cruised 3rd Street Promenade or some other gathering point for street performers, you know the drill.

As he starts to sing, I’m reminded a bit of Deer Tick. Then, one by one, his bandmates step on stage. It feels like an old kung fu movie where the superhero is outnumbered and proper fucked but then, one by one, his kung fu homies step out from the shadows to back him up and kick some ass … Which is exactly what Shakey Graves and Co. proceeded to do. They methodically turned up the dial and kicked some ass.

At times they reminded me of the soundtrack from a Robert Rodriguez film – heavy tex mex guitar that seems about right for a bar brawl, but also with a lot of grungy feedback driven guitar riffs. What holds it all together though is the drummer. Dude is a manimal. As some of the raucous guitar solos threaten to loosen the anchor and go adrift melodically, the drumbeat keeps it all locked down.

It’s not all jams though. When Shakey sings “Dearly Departed”, the whole crowd chimes in. Squeezed together in the cozy nooks fronting the Trestles Stage, it’s good fun. Dare I say a Mellencamp vibe? John? John Cougar? Whichever one is less douchey because Shakey Graves is super legit. Like Mellencamp … but without the blow-dried, moussed up hair.

A few songs into the set, the band leaves Shakey solo on the stage and he starts playing a desert waltz. The two older ladies next to me start dancing a box step and it’s adorable. The heftier one steps on my foot and apologizes profusely. I say it ain’t no thing, so she smiles and says “Alright then, it’s your turn, son!” And we waltz. And if everyone else in the crowd isn’t shoulder to shoulder, they’d be waltzing too. Because we forget to the dance sometimes, and that’s not a good thing.

It’s a blast and for the moment, this middle aged white trash ruca with her painted on eyebrows and drunk yet nimble footsteps, my new best friend, is reminding me how much fun it really is. Especially when a smug and talented artist is talking shit to the crowd … but he’s talking shit to himself too. He’s not trying to be a dick. He’s just having a good time and trying to get everyone else to have a good time too. So maybe he’s a little self indulgent at times. That’s alright. He gets it. After a quasi-extemporaneous rant on the state of the world that seemed pretty smart, Mr. Graves tacitly acknowledged his narcissism and pantomimed the wristicular motion of masturbating and then capped it off with the regal gesture of throwing his imaginary ejaculate at the crowd, which brought a handful of chuckles, but also a whole lot of cheers. Shakey Graves may be a long way from Austin, but he definitely found his peoples.

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