Wednesday night I took in the debut of one of the most highly hyped bands of the year, the Alabama Shakes.
Now I had known about these cats for a lil’ while, cause I read My Old Kentucky Blog, and that dude was on them like hot fire, because he, like I, is a fan of Patterson Hood and his Drive By Truckers, and Mr. Hood kind of jump-started the whole Alabama Shake situation. By situation I mean he helped to make it so that the world could get to shake with’em.
So anyways, I’ve been playing their four track debut EP for what amounts to a hot minute, and they’ve been getting a lot of hypester-press-love for a steady few, and now I’m hearing them on the radio, in commercials, and blaring out my neighbor’s window, so they have no doubt arrived. Thus the question posed when I set off to see their set at the Troubadour with my trusty companions the Buddhaphest and Bernard (ed. note: see Hakeem from Coming to America) was could the live show hold up to the superb four tracks that they’d been teasing us with for half a year?
My answer, yeah, it was groovy as all get up.
Skip the part about the WeHo crowd being packed full of music know-it-alls and jeans that cut-off the oxygen flow to the brain. Skip the fact that there was this absurd stage light that kept flashing in our faces and inducing mild seizures and painful migraines.
Cut to the chase, where the Troubadour, overzealous lights and all, is still a great place to hear a band that’s just getting their stride. It’s small, the sound is pretty good wherever, you can see the act wherever, and you can buy French fries. Which Bernard and I did, while commenting on all the notable “ones” that we wouldn’t mind introducing our biblical names to.
The Troubadour was in fact the perfect spot for this group’s LA arrival. Who knows where they’ll be coming through next year. One would assume the Wiltern or the El Rey will open it’s doors, and then the question of can this band hold its own on a larger stage will come up. Yet, for now, the performance they gave in that most intimate of settings will stand testament to their skills. To that I’ll tip my hat to a very no-frills band of musicians who all looked like they were having an authentically good time, playing authentically good songs, behind an authentically talented leading lady.
That lady was Brittany Murphy, and her soul-shocking voice was able to induce shakes from even the most unshakeable of crowds. Hipsters were shuffling their feet at least twenty degrees further than they usually shuffle, I saw several actually dancing. I didn’t see too many spins, but I was in the back, and my point here, is that the music was good enough to get even a tough crowd moving, and that’s difficult. So I can certainly imagine the hootenanny’s that they are throwing in less up-tight cities to be quite the spin-full affairs.
Ms. Murphy’s voice is without a doubt a unique one, and channels that sultry soul that makes good southern rock grab you by the gut and send your head a thinkin’ and feet a dancin’.
The band assembled a live set full of catchy songs that one could not help but move with. They played all four of the hits off of their four track sampler, but if I had to pick my favorite moments for the night (ed. note: aside from meeting a bum in the Pavillions’ doorway that was playing house music and went by the name of DJ Biscuit) they would be their last song “Heat Lightning,” and then their first encore, “Ain’t the Same.”
While their close-out for the night was a very inspired version of the already released “On Your Way” it was these new songs that left me most excited about this show. Now I know that the hype is legit and that it’s gonna carry on a little longer, because there’s about to be a good bit more fun comin’ out a Alabama-way. So let’s hurry up and get that album out mama, cause as of now, I’m baggin’ what you’re mowin’.
Only real question is, when will the Alabama Shakes be hopping in the Jam Van? SXSW me thinks…
Quote(s) of the Night:
Bernard – “She is very soulful! I love soul!”
Bernard again – “DJ Biscuit, I like him, he is a good man.”
Links for the Day:
– That New, New, NEW Hotness... (via The Best Website in the World)
– The nerve on this hick… (via Prefix)
– It’s no “Roller Coaster of Love” but it’ll do... (via Spinner)
– Coming soon to a Jam Van near you… (via Pitchfork)