Concert Review: Esme Patterson, Sean Rowe, Shakey Graves, December 3, Lincoln Hall


I think it’s fair to say that I’m slightly obsessed with everyone who played Lincoln Hall on Wednesday night.

Let’s start with Esme Patterson. Esme Patterson had cheekbones I could see from the balcony. She was sporting bright red lipstick, some badass tattoos, and a Zelda Fitzgerald-ish head of cropped blonde curls. More importantly, Esme Patterson has a concept album called Woman To Woman composed of songs written from the viewpoint of women who are featured in famous songs. For instance, sure Dolly Parton is desperate to keep her man away from Jolene, but maybe Jolene has the good sense to know that Dolly Parton’s man is probably a no good bum if she has to keep a constant eye on him (track 2, Never Chase A Man). Or what about Loretta? How does she feel about being left behind every season by a man who’s more like a piece of desert debris than a man (track 3, Tumbleweed)? Not only is the album fantastic as a concept, with well thought out lyrics and stories – but all the songs are fun to listen to and downright addictive, with sweeping strings, hooky guitars and Esme’s enticing and playful drawl (and sometimes musical squeak) drawing you in.

Let’s move onto Sean Rowe. Sturdily built and beardy, I think Sean Rowe summed up his own appearance best when he introduced his song “my little man” by saying “this song is about my son. I know what you all are thinking “He has kids? He looks like he eats kids!” I don’t. I have kids.” Sean Rowe rumbles. When the man opens his mouth you can feel your bones vibrate. If he needed a day job (which he doesn’t, dude is exactly where he’s meant to be) but if he did, he could serve as the lead singer in a The National cover band. He and his buddy Rex (who served as backup vocals/pot banger/xylophone ringer/washboard clanger) threw down on that stage, spinning out dark yet foot tapping folk rock masterpieces with unmitigated glee. By far my favorite part of his set was hearing Sean Rowe rumble out the opening “ohm-ohm-ohm-ohm-ayyyy” notes to “The Game”, the opening piece to his set, just because of the sheer and utter, stunned and delighted silence it produced in the crowd. That voice is a force of nature.

And finally, let’s round out the night with Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Shakey Graves. Shakey Graves reminds me of nobody so much as Jack Skellington. With a lanky figure and broad, sweeping, graceful (yet a little bit terrifying!) body movements and a devilishly impish grin on his face, Graves stomped, joked, danced, talked and sung his way through the night and into the heart of every person in that crowd. Sporting a Wu Tang Clan sweatshirt and long black locks under his flat brimmed hat, Graves took the stage solo with just his guitar and a backwards facing kick drum that gave him both drum and tambourine, and sang quite a few songs in a style I can only describe as quirky/dirty/backcountry rock with a storyline (it would be like if the music of the Decemberists had a baby with a hoedown). My favorite track by far was “Late July” – the story of a man who kills a gold digging woman who had stolen all his money, steals a bus, drives to Mexico, grows weed, gets picked up by the police, then goes to the electric chair – the song ending with dead silence and Graves going “…zzzzzzzap!” An obvious highlight for everyone was when Graves called Patterson back onstage to perform “Dearly Departed” which is one of the most addictive songs you’ll ever experience – listen to this track and I guarantee you’ll walk around your house singing “you and I both know that the house is haunted/you and I both know that the ghost is me” for the next three weeks at minimum.

I have no idea if I’ve done a good job of summing up these three incredible acts or if anyone reading this is going to be like…wait what? But honestly it does not even matter – whether I’ve convinced you these three are amazing and you have to see them live or I’ve totally confused you so you have to see them live to understand what I’m talking about the result will be the same – and believe me you won’t regret it.

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts

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