Alabama Shakes Roll Into Texas With Soulful Set - Rolling Stone
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Alabama Shakes Roll Into Texas With Soulful Set

Band deliver on their hype at SXSW

Alabama Shakes play SXSW.

Alabama Shakes play SXSW.

Alex Reside

“Hello, Austin, Texas. I’m gonna murder you,” huffed Alabama Shakes’ singer-guitarist Brittany Howard, stomping her feet as the band launched into “Hang Loose,” a rollicking tune about living carefree. Billed as one of this year’s must-see acts at SXSW, the group delivered on their hype during NPR’s showcase at Stubb’s Wednesday night, tearing through all but two tracks from their upcoming debut LP, Boys & Girls.

Alabama Shakes’ music is drenched in gospel and Southern rock influences, but their real calling card is Howard, a wildly soulful vocalist who has already earned comparisons to Janis Joplin. Her bandmates – bassist Zac Cockrell, guitarist Heath Fogg,  drummer Steve Johnson and keyboardist Ben Tanner – know better than to distract from a good thing. They took a backseat and let Howard’s charisma bleed through songs like “I Ain’t The Same” and “Always Alright,” a pass-the-alcohol adrenaline-starter with genuine swagger.

At one point, Howard paused to explain Boys & Girls‘ title track, recounting how she was ridiculed growing up for having a boy as her best friend. “Oh, why can’t we be best friends anymore?” she sang in earnest. After the multiple SXSW shows that Alabama Shakes have lined up this week – some 2,000 people piled into Stubb’s alone – Howard shouldn’t have any more trouble keeping friends.


“Hang Loose”
“I Ain’t the Same”
“Hold On”
“I Found You”
“Always Alright”
“Boys & Girls”
“Be Mine”
“Rise to the Sun”
“You Ain’t Alone”
“Heavy Chevy”
“On Your Way”
“Heat Lightning”

In This Article: Alabama Shakes, SXSW, SXSW 2012


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