Sunday night at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto will definitely go down as one of my top shows. It was my first time at this venue and I fell in love right away! For anyone who hasn’t been there, it’s a perfect small venue with an open floor area in front of the stage and an upper level with seating. The floor slopes just slightly towards the stage allowing the vertically challenged, like myself, to enjoy a great view from anywhere in the crowd.
The opening act, Those Darlins, was a new band to me and I went in without knowing a single note of their music. It’s great hearing a band for the first time live and getting a feel for not just their music, but their personality and performance style. Initially I wasn’t sure that Those Darlins were my cup of tea, but around three songs in they had totally changed my mind. Their unique song style made for an interesting and entertaining show as the two leading ladies took turns leading the vocals all the while blowing us away on their guitars. By the end of their set, These Darlins had won me over and I was really glad we were able to see them.
Next up was Mr. Alejandro Rose-Garcia himself, a.k.a Shakey Graves. Walking onstage to The Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’ brought some nostalgic excitement to the fairly young crowd. The stage was decked out in true Texas style, with a cow skull in the back and the Lone Star flag draped over the keyboard. Shakey performed all the crowd favourites including “Dearly Departed”, “Roll the Bones”, “Late July”, “Hardwired”, and my personal favourite “Perfect Parts”. Each song was a unique live version and included hilarious anecdotes about the writing process and tidbits of Shakey life advice: fear neither the dick jokes, nor the death jokes, and if you don’t feed your puppy, it will die, and you will have to eat it . Our group wondered if one of the ladies from Those Darlins would be joining in to sing Esme’s part in Dearly Departed, but that was left up to the crowd who clearly came prepared. While most of the show was a solo act, we did see a drummer (didn’t catch his name, but he was quite amazing) join the stage for a few songs, and the energy between the two of them was incredible. I went into this concert with a lot of excitement about the music Shakey Graves has created, but I came out of it with more appreciation for him as an all-round performer. If you have the chance to check this guy out, make sure you do, you will not be disappointed!