Excitement lingered in the summer air as thousands of concert-goers lined up at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to see the legendary Austin-born and based Shakey Graves. The buzz and anticipation for a night filled with blues, folk, country, and rock and roll, was lighting up each attendee’s face. Being only his third show post-pandemic, many loyal fans and attendees were enthusiastic to welcome his music back to the stage.
The musical experience began with opener Lucy Dacus. Dacus’s sweet and soulful voice filled the Amphitheatre with an acoustic, joyful sound. Her playful and powerful melodies were supported with foundational and tremendous talent by supporting guitarist Jacob Blizard.
The gratitude for artists sharing their craft is perhaps appreciated now more than ever. Her fans were there singing along as she propelled us into the night, doing an excellent job warming up the crowd for an evening of fun and upbeat music.
When Shakey took the stage, he opened up to the crowd, joking that he often wished the world would stop, but never realized it actually would. He yelled, "Be careful what you wish for!" to the eager audience, and laughter traveled up and down the steps that had been vacant all spring.
Shakey Graves took to the stage just as the sun set, and the nearly full moon softly glowed just to his right. He yelled out to a packed audience,igniting the night—and reflected back at him were smiling fans ready to be shaken by Shakey Graves’ sound. Post-pandemic thrill energized the crowd.
With the total energy of a one-man band, Shakey grasped the audience with his opening rendition of the folk song "Tomorrow." The crowd was captivated and fully engaged and there was a quietness, respect, and attentiveness rare among such large gatherings. He shared that the song is about not knowing what is coming next, and about being completely attuned with that. Donned in a cowboy hat and farmer-like overalls, he kissed the mic and launched into his set.
Weaving sound seamlessly, he slowed the song down and it morphed from "If Not for You," into a unique and inventive version of The Pixies’ "Where Is My Mind?". To no one’s surprise, the crowd began singing along with him during the main section of the melody and into the chorus.
Beautiful purple lighting framed Shakey Graves as he wound down this crowd-pleaser and his supporting band entered the stage. He spoke of stories and experiences in South Carolina, giving the audience a glimpse into his world beyond music. The band went on to play "The Recipe" and "Mansion Door" with a psychedelic rock feel, as the rainbow lights weaved in between them.
As the audience settled into the band and into the experience of being together, tiny raindrops began to fall. Still, they were merely kisses, and the night continued without any weather dampening the party.
The band had a unique way of weaving each song into the next, really taking the audience on a musical journey. They played "Bully's Lament" into "Late July," and "Strange Days" with plenty of energy; and Shakey Graves displayed his incredible vocal power and range, as you could truly feel he was singing with everything he had.
Shakey Graves and the entire band eventually did a costume change, and re-entered with sparkle jackets that Shakey shouted reminded him of disco balls. After that, the band launched into a psychedelic set that weaved their songs "Strange Things" and "The Point" into another cover of David Bowie's "Starman."
After launching the audience into space, the band left, and it was just Shakey Graves on the stage in his magnificent jacket as he re-expressed his pleasure to share new music with everyone. He sang his heart out and thanked the audience for letting him “just be him.”
As an attendee, one could feel the genuine exchange between the audience and the artist at this moment before Shakey exited the stage for a brief intermission.
Without making fans wait too long, he returned for a solo encore with the fan-favorite and long-awaited performance of "Roll the Bones." The foggy haze, blended with the colored lights framing him and the stage, eventually seeped out into the audience, where the line between performer and audience blurred. The foggy purple lights faded as Shakey exited the stage, and the crowd roared with enthusiasm as he closed out the night.