Gathered in a mass of a crowd at one of Chattanooga’s more popular concert venues, The Signal, fans in admiration of music and appreciation of true talent alike set out on this Tuesday evening, May 7th, to see the live performance of the gifted multi-instrumentalist Shakey Graves. A few years ago I caught a glimpse of a video of a live recording of Shakey Graves playing four instruments simultaneously whilst still singing so well and controlled, and have been a long-time fan ever since. With all of that in mind, I knew that my excitement for this show was just as much about seeing a live performance of an individual with so much raw and natural talent as it was about the incredible music that this man makes.
To start the night off, the gifted duo of Illiterate Light blew away the crowd lighting up the stage with only their voices, a minimalist standing drum kit, and a guitar. Thoroughly exceeding my expectations as a rock “duo”, Illiterate Light brought just as much vibrant energy and sound, if not more, than a full-scale company would have. The gritty yet melodic sounds created by the two combined with their charming lyricism left me in disbelief that it was only two guys alone that created a sound as good as this, and live nonetheless.
Having been fueled with high energy and excitement from the opening band, the anticipating crowd went wild with applause the second that Shakey Graves calmly stepped out from behind the large props of the city-scape set on stage and walked to the front for his opening songs. Right off the bat, Shakey went straight to performing his song “Roll the Bones” which is undoubtedly well-loved and noted for the Audiotree Live video performance of that song which went viral showcasing his talent of playing multiple instruments at the same time and making it look easy. Just as he did in that video, he did live as well. Alone on stage, playing the guitar with hands, the bass kick drum with one foot, a kick drum like tambourine with the other foot, singing, and playfully interacting with the crowd at the same time, I quickly noticed the fact that he likely has more talent and coordination in his pinky than I have in my entire body.
Shortly after preforming a few songs solo, his three band members joined him on stage to continue on with the show, playing songs with hauntingly beautiful melodies that when combined Shakey’s raspy strong vocals, left lingering feelings of euphoria in atmosphere. So much so, that by the time the show ended there was not only one, but two pairs of women’s lacey underwear that had been thrown onto the stage and hung on the microphone stand. How a single man has the ability to create, play, and perform music like he does and also cultivate that much energy in a crowd alone is beyond me. If I had not already been a huge fan of that man and his abilities, after that show there is no doubt in my mind that I most certainly would have become one.
Written by Gabrielle Lasater
Photography by Ana Leonard