Alabama Shakes hits Chicago for a pair of weekend shows

By Jake Krzeczowski November 30, 2012 2:04PM
Originally Appeared for Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: December 1, 2012 2:09AM

Don’t let the name fool you, Alabama Shakes is not just a one-state band.

The group loves the Land of Lincoln — Chicago in particular. Since heading out on tour just over a year ago, the four friends from Athens, Ala., have graced the city with their brand of American soul-roots rock on several occasions.

The Shakes return Saturday for a sold-out show at the Riviera and perform Sunday with Band of Horses for the 93XRT Big Holiday Concert at the Chicago Theatre.

“We’re glad to come back to Chicago,” said guitarist Heath Fogg. “I love Chicago and love being able to play there as much as possible.”

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsSince releasing their debut album “Boys & Girls” in April of this year, the Shakes have racked up the mileage points while touring the world and seeming to pop up at every major summer festival.

After the Chicago shows, the group heads to Sydney, Australia, for the Big Day Out Festival.

All this for a group that was simply looking to garner enough of a following to piece a tour together a year ago.

“The band is viewed publicly differently than it was even a few months ago,” Fogg said. “It’s just been a dream come true and exceeded any dreams that we had for this in a lot of ways.”

In a run-up to Lollapalooza, Alabama the Shakes played an Aug. 1 show at Metro. The band was one of the most anticipated acts at this year’s festival but a giant storm rained out its set.

“It was unfortunate at Lollapalooza, it was a crazy day,” Fogg said. “We invited some people who were stranded in the storm onto the bus, and drank some beer and waited it out. Unfortunately, there was just too much water.”

Not wanting Chicago to miss out on an opportunity to see them live, the Shakes quickly scheduled a small show Sept. 11 at Subterranean, teaming up with American Family Insurance for the Alabama Shakes’ “Dream Show.”

Fans had to RSVP by “liking” the insurance company’s Facebook page and then pick up wristbands to get in.

Lead singer Brittany Howard’s soulful, booming voice filled the room and brought the group back a bit to the days of playing clubs and bars back home.

“It’s always a treat to play something like that. Big stages are fun but the crowds can be far away. I don’t know but we love those little rock ’n’ roll clubs,” Fogg said.

This time around should prove to be the biggest yet for the Shakes in the Second City and allow plenty of fans to catch the interplay between Howard’s vocals and crafty guitar work by Fogg and bassist Zac Cockrell.

“This show will be a bit bigger and give some folks who missed us at Lollapalooza a chance to come see us,” Fogg said. “Hopefully, it’ll just be a rock ’n’ roll show for us and the fans as well, we’ll definitely make it fun.”

Jake Krzeczowski is a locally based free-lance writer.

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