Alabama Shakes Garrison Stage, Toronto ON, June 6

Alabama Shakes Garrison Stage, Toronto ON, June 6
Photo: Shane Parent
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There were a lot of people on stage for the day's headlining set, but all eyes and ears were on Brittany Howard. The Alabama native's powerful, stunning voice cut through the massive crowd like a hot knife through butter as she belted song after song without tiring. Joined by eight other musicians, including three backup singers, Howard was the centre of the storm that was Alabama Shakes, and they worked together to absolutely demolish the massive, day-end crowd, leaving a crowd of stunned showgoers left to wonder how the next day could possibly top what they had just witnessed.
 
The set list, a generous blend of tracks from their debut, Boys & Girls, and recent sophomore effort, Sound & Color, not only showcased the band's blues- and soul-infused rock sound but also their remarkable synchronicity, with each member playing their part in executing the complex arrangements. Opening with the plea to youth "Future People," Alabama Shakes made sure their message was heard with tight, expansive instrumentation, and Howard's pipes as icing on the cake. Though the band delivered their all from the opening moments, they stayed strong through their stunning conclusion of "You Ain't Alone" and "Over My Head." And Howard, who usually keeps quiet between songs, also proved herself to be incredibly endearing thanks to some between-song banter that was genuinely appreciative but also light and funny.
 
Each of the 19 songs had their own identity, and showcased a slightly different side of the band. With a delicious smattering of blues, rock, and soul, the group brought Southern hospitality to the Great White North to cap off a great day with a fittingly fantastic set.