Ahead of St. Petersburg show, Shakey Graves seduces Word of the South Festival

CL headed north for Tallahassee for a sneak peek.

Share on Nextdoor

If Friday night’s Shakey Graves performance was an indication — and I’m pretty sure that is, indeed, the case — the this weekend’s Word of the South in Tallahassee is gonna be legendary.

The Currys — who deserved a much larger crowd than they had as the opening act — warmed up a crowd that grew larger and increasingly frenetic as Graves started to sing.

Truth be told, though, “singing” doesn’t seem the right verb here. Undulating? Seducing? Playing with? Graves — who will play St. Petersburg’s Jannus Live on May 4 — did all those things as he moved through the set. It seems appropriate here to mention he wore black skinny jeans and a black button-down shirt with giant red hibiscus on it. In the photos, it’s pretty clear it’s a Hawaiian shirt, but I swear to Christ last night it looked like he was channeling Tom Jones and that shirt looked like it had giant red roses all over it, a Texan cowboy ready to give the crowd what it begged for.

That illusion was helped along by the way he seduced the crowd, which wasn’t supposed to be dancing in the pit. It started with one lone woman in the ticketed seat section dancing along to the music, beer in hand as she swayed to Graves’ feel-it-in-your-sternum suitcase percussion. By the end of the first song, that lone woman feeling the music had turned into a multi-generational pit of bodies. Things that happened in the pit: A legit do-si-do. The running man. Head-banging accompanied by the sign of the horns. Three women whom the photographer for the event described as “trying to get Shakey’s attention” but I’ll describe here as “trying to air-mate with Graves” (unsuccessfully).

After the first two songs, a gentle, serious, behemoth of  bouncer tried his level best to clear the crowd that wasn’t supposed to assemble in the first place, but who was anyone kidding? It was a glorious blend of bodies, and the ages spanned no less than five decades. No one was going anywhere, and if they did, they just retreated and returned when his back was turned. Finally, he gave up, got out of the way, and resigned himself to keeping women from climbing up on the stage.

This is why, save for the actual music (which is about as far from Tom Jones as one can get) the analogy came to mind. Well, that and the way Graves used his body to get the crowd’s energy even higher. He wiggled his hips. His body flowed with his music. He waggled his eyebrows, flirting with the crowd that wanted all he would give. It was clear last night Graves loves what he does and he wants you to love it, too. And if you fall a little bit in love with him? Well, maybe that’s OK, too.

Follow @CL_music on Twitter to get the most up-to-date music news. Subscribe to our newsletter, too.

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
Scroll to read more Music News articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.