[SXSW] The Alabama Shakes-An Unexpected Kick In The Soul

One of the more awkward moments of the Thursday day-show at Stubb’s BBQ came before The Alabama Shakes hit the stage. More than any band in town, all the buzz surrounded The Shakes.

People were piling in as The Punch Brothers took the stage. As the local radio host introduced progressive bluegrass veterans Chris Thile and crew, the first words that came out of her mouth were “I know you are all here to see The Alabama Shakes, but up next we have The Punch Brothers.”

Thile did a double take about what she said. They all laughed, it got awkward and the show went on. It’s crazy to think that seemingly in the blink of an eye, a band from a small town 100 miles south of Nashville across the Tennessee border, would be upstaging The Punch Brothers.

I had no idea what to expect of the Alabama Shakes at Stubb’s that day. I didn’t expect to see Brittany Howard walk out on stage. I didn’t expect my soul to burn for 45 minutes. I didn’t expect to melt into the music. But when they played I gave into enjoying a music performance unlike I can ever remember. Looking back on that, I think it had to do with being swept away by something unexpected.

Five years ago was the summer of porch sitting and Natural Light. It was an extra hot sticky disgusting summer and all we did was bitch about the weather and sit in front of fans on Confederate street. Vinyl was making its way back and we would listen to Aretha Franklin’s Lady Soul album nearly every night. The first time I heard “People Get Ready” was one of the most magical musical moments of my life. The Alabama Shakes come in right behind with an unexpected kick in the soul.