Shakey Graves Fort York, Toronto ON, September 18

Shakey Graves Fort York, Toronto ON, September 18
Photo: Shane Parent
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Don't bother telling the crowd gathered to watch Alejandro Rose-Garcia that the man better known as Shakey Graves isn't a headliner. Judging by the size of the 3 p.m. crowd, they wouldn't believe you, nor would they care. The Austin native — who two days ago took home Emerging Artist of the Year honors from the Americana Music Awards — came onto the West Main Stage wearing a requisite cowboy hat and had a Texas state flag waving from his synth. As always, Rose-Garcia was joined onstage by his converted suitcase bass drum, as well as a recently added full drum kit that would be put to great use throughout the breezy overcast day's set.
 
Distorting waves of sound in ways akin to Jimi Hendrix, Rose-Garcia messed around with the amps before jumping into "Roll the Bones." The musician vigorously stomped the pedals until sweat dripped from his jutting jaw, his neck visibly strained, veins pushed against skin. After a short introduction, he was joined onstage by drummer Chris Boosahda, who counted time before launching into a booming rendition of "The Perfect Parts." Reversing 2014's And The War Came's track order, they moved from "Perfect Parts" to "Dearly Departed." It was performed without the help of Esmé Patterson, instead allowing Rose-Garcia to make use of his vocal flexibility and letting the crowd fill in the gaps.
 
The charming frontman is a natural conversationalist and bantered with the crowd prior to singing "Tomorrow." Standing onstage solo again, Graves told the tale of his writing the song at 17, and in the midst of performing it, finished the anecdote like some impromptu episode of VH1 Storytellers. Even later, when his patch chord became dislodged, Rose-Garcia kept his cool, no doubt helped along by the improvisational talents of Boosahda. Having captured the ears and hearts of the crowd, he finished the set with "Late July" and "Family and Genus." With the audience firmly in his pocket, Shakey Graves brought some light to an otherwise cloudy day.