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Alabama Shakes Turn Up the Soul at Lakeside Lounge [12/10/11]
The best band you probably haven’t heard yet is the Alabama Shakes, a neo-soul outfit hailing from Athens, Alabama. The quartet – Brittany Howard (vox/guitar), Heath Fogg (guitar), Zac Cockrell (bass), Steve Johnson (drums) – was reportedly discovered by Patterson Hood (Drive-by Truckers) and eventually became darlings of CMJ earlier this year. It was the hottest ticket in town these past few days, with sold-out gigs at both Brooklyn Bowl and Mercury Lounge. So, having been locked out of the latter on the previous night, we were uber-stoked to learn that the Shakes would play an intimate gig at an even smaller venue in Alphabet City. Lakeside Lounge.
Determined to see the show, we arrived an hour early to the Saturday evening performance, at which point the band was being interviewed for a Myspace (who?) segment. Key nuggets from the exchange included their musical influences (AC/DC, Otis Redding, Ike Turner), the new album (April release), and recent record label signing (ATO).
With a capacity of roughly 150 heads, the space reached the maximum fairly quickly, and extraneous fans were turned away at the door. But like many shows at the Lakeside, many stood outside by the emergency exit for the entirety of the show. The set kicked off strong with radio single “Hold On,” priming the audience for forty-five minutes of raw soul in the sonic vein of Muscle Shoals and the Swampers. Indeed, Howard’s pipes and exaggerated stage movements were enough to send tingles up the spine, marrying elements of both Janis and Aretha. Other highlights included toe-tapper “Hurricane Strut” and the emotional “I Found You.” In the end, though, the band played only what they knew, exhausting their entire budding repertoire of a dozen songs.
The Alabama Shakes are now off to the Midwest for another string of tour dates, but when they return to Gotham, expect more gigs at Bowery Ballroom and beyond. Buy their EP here.
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