If you were anywhere in Seattle on the evening of November 15th, Neumos was the venue you’d count yourself lucky to spend it at. Those who ventured out to Capitol Hill, hopefully with tickets in hand, were treated to an outstanding sold-out performance by Shakey Graves. Alejandro Rose-Garcia who performs under that moniker, brought along with him two equally and distinct artists in support for a full night of, at times, raucous but indelible performances. Graves has been keeping busy with the release of his album, And the War Came, as well as a full schedule to which Saturday's show marks the third time he has played the Northwest this past year. Judging from the size of the crowd, it will not be the last for quite some time.
Colorado native Esmé Patterson, formerly of the group Paper Bird, opened the show. Patterson has a new album out, titled Woman to Woman, which follows the conceptual perspective of women depicted by other well known artist from the likes of The Beatles (with songs like "Eleanor Rigby"), The Beach Boys and Elvis Costello, just to name a few. Patterson's vocals were strident at times, reverberating throughout the audience, interspersed by the sustained of the guitar and drum accompaniment. The crowd was enthralled from the beginning.
Rayland Baxter, a songwriter and guitarist from Nashville, followed Patterson and there could not have been a better complimentary dichotomy between these two artists. Resembling a young variation of Pete Seeger, Baxter sauntered onto stage hesitantly grabbing his guitar before letting the crowd know he forgot his set list. In a moment, he had gone and returned. Baxter possesses a unique sound and masterful ability to pair his vocal range to the vibrato used on his guitar. His vocals effect created a haunting feeling as he tore through “Dreamin” and “Olivia”, professing to the captivated crowd his yearning for a reciprocated love. For one track, Baxter surprised the crowd by inviting The Head and the Heart's Charity Rose up for a duet.
Shakey Graves began the final act solo at first. Neumos swelled, packed wall to wall, and what felt like floor to ceiling. Graves started earning his reputation early on by incorporating what is now a signature piece of percussion, his homemade suitcase drum. Here, he started on with just that small, yet intricate piece. With his guitar in hand, he exudes a charisma that the crowd easily identifies with. During the first few songs; Shakey Graves doesn’t let them forget it either. Standing just inches from the audience, he prodded everyone to help sing rhythm and background vocals, even offering just a little bit of criticism in jest. About halfway through, he brought out the rest of the band. As his sound becomes more frenetic, it progresses with the additional artists and only gets better. He definitely hasn’t sacrificed his core sound in exchange for influence of other musicians. At times during his set, his vocals shifted between a trademarked raspy Texan drawl, to an ethereal harmonic quality that was only emphasized further by bringing up Esmé Patterson, who lent her voice on a few standout tracks on Shakey Graves' new album. This was an excellent way to bring the show full circle, showcasing just how much these artist are able to navigate around one another, with Shakey Graves gravitating toward to center and commanding an excellent production on a brisk Saturday night in Seattle.
Little Big Shows tend to sell out - that much is true. But with Little Big Show #10, Seattle broke a ground speed record, as tickets were gone almost before they even appeared. Every few months, KEXP joins Starbucks Seattle Theater Group to spotlight a Seattle charity with a show at the Neptune The…