Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Alabama Shakes Concert Review – OK, We “Get It.”

     In early 2012, we were aware of the escalation of attention going to the Alabama Shakes, and considered making the drive to San Francisco to see the band at a relatively small venue. However, after listening to the band’s releases for a few days, one of us kept repeating the same statement, “I don’t get it.” The rapidly growing “buzz” about the Alabama Shakes was not understood. Because of the skepticism of one of us (me), neither of us went to see the band.
     But a few months later, the Alabama Shakes were among the performers at Outside Lands, the three-day festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Although the band was scheduled at a stage that accommodates a large crowd, the venue was overwhelmed. From a slightly elevated vantage point, we scanned the fans of the Alabama Shakes. It was a sea of people, with any available ground being occupied by a high density of concert-goers. We marveled at how it would feel to be in a band with very limited notoriety at the beginning of a year, but with a draw that overtaxed an outdoor festival only seven months later.
     Partially through the performance at Outside Lands, it became clear – “I get it!” There are “emotional spaces” that are not shared by everyone; not inherent to all of us. People who can reach the emotional space of the Alabama Shakes, without being pushed, were able to appreciate their music very early on. I was not one of those people. But at Outside Lands, I was carried to that space. Like never before, I understood what is meant by “soulful music.”
     We saw the Alabama Shakes in Texas later in 2012, and for whatever reason, it didn’t have the same affect. However, last night (March 5, 2013), at the Fox Theater in Oakland, the Alabama Shakes again brought us into that space that they currently rule. Music can be powerful. Live music can be overpowering.
The Alabama Shakes are from Athens, Alabama. The members are:
Brittany Howard – lead vocals, guitar
Zac Cockrell – bass, backing vocals
Heath Fogg – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Johnson – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Ben Tanner – piano, organ, backing vocals, Farfisa, percussion

“Hold On” - Saturday Night Live, February 2013

"Always Alright" by the Alabama Shakes, who are currently allowing FREE Downloads

"I Found You" by the Alabama Shakes

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