Shakey Graves delights Vancouver fans once again

Shakey Graves with Kolars at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 12/12/18

Shakey Graves. Photo by Mariko Margetson.

Alejandro Rose-Garcia is one of a kind. Most fans know him as the charismatic indie roots legend Shakey Graves, and on Dec. 12, almost 3,000 devoted fans in Vancouver saw him perform at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Theatre.  

First to take the stage was Kolars, a well glittered husband and wife duo that blur the boundaries of even the most creative combination of musical genres. It was psychedelic and moody sometimes sounded inspired Iggy Pop or BRMC, and other times had the mood of rave. Lauren Brown drummed and tap danced from atop a beat box with languid tribal movements while Rob Kolar slithered and grooved and shredded beside her. It was visual and auditory artistry performed with one hundred percent conviction.  

Kolars. Photo by Mariko Margetson.

At the heart of it was a similar magic that propelled Shakey Graves into super stardom back in 2013. People liked him because he was different and because he carved his identity with conviction and ferocity and backed it up with raw musical talent.

Kolars. Photo by Mariko Margetson.

Shakey Graves started the set solo, among a stage littered with guitars and other musical devices, including a fire-engine red kick drum fashioned out of an old suitcase. Behind him, four separate white panels flashed black and white images and the occasional written collage. It was an unexpected start to a show that was in support of his most recent album Can’t Wake Up.

Can’t Wake Up is the third full length studio album from the Texas native and at first listen is a pretty clear departure from his earlier work. The gritty, earthy flavors of “Roll the Bones” and “And the War Came” give way to a more cerebral, full-bodied and often synthesized sound.  

However one feels compelled to describe the music, Vancouver fans were certainly enjoying every bit of it.

Shakey Graves. Photo by Mariko Margetson.

The end of the third song saw Rose-Garcia on his knees, forcing some reverb and pedal effects out of his cream colored fender while his three band mates took their places beside him.  This brought the crowd to their feet.

“Dearly Departed” was the only number from his older work that was missing from the set list that evening. “Roll the Bones” was a highlight from his prior work, but “Kids These Days” drew the biggest cheers and pre-song hand clapping.

Shakey Graves. Photo by Mariko Margetson.

As top notch as the evening was musically, Rose-Garcia is very much the nucleus of the performance. He manages to be relatable while maintaining a larger than life persona on stage. He has a highly intelligent ‘aw shucks’ vibe going on, and fans are just as happy to hear a short story about his first visit to the city or a little friendly advice on being comfortable in your own skin as they are swaying to the music.

Shakey Graves ended the evening solo, just as he had begun it. This time the crowd was moving and shaking and cheering and dancing. True to form, the performer took a low bow and acknowledged the fans before graciously shaking hands and bounding off the stage.