Music Festivals

Who Cares if Jon Snow Is Dead? — the Alabama Shakes Are in Town

There are maybe a handful of worthy excuses for missing the Sunday night broadcast of one of the most exciting hours of premium cable entertainment this great world has to offer, Game of Thrones. They include but are not limited to: tornados, alien invasions, the birth of your first child (for the second and third ones, one should live-stream), and, finally, an Alabama Shakes concert. 

This, the band's headlining set to close out West Palm Beach's SunFest, was the Shakes' last show on this leg of its tour, and the immortal Brittany Howard warned the crowd that she was about to give it everything she had, "whether you like it or not." 

She delivered on her promise. 
About half of the insanely diverse (in age, not race) crowd at SunFest knew what they were getting into, which is, simply put, the greatest performing band on the market right now.

The Shakes' set was nonstop rock glory, with Howard wailing and shredding with a talent this world hasn't seen in decades. Even Janis Joplin, were she alive today, would have to stop and take it in.

While the Alabama Shakes as a whole are an amazing band — with bassist Zac Cockrell and lead guitarist Heath Fogg providing a powerfully unique and infectious sound — the undeniable backbone of the group is Brittany Howard. 

In the few moments where she did stop singing to speak to the audience, she was humble and grateful — even though the crowd wasn't giving her half as much as she was giving them. But Howard didn't spend much time on pleasantries. Instead, she grabbed her guitar, attacked the mic like it owed her money, and head-banged so hard that her glasses came flying off. This, of course, isn't abnormal. In only two albums, the Shakes, and Howard specifically, have earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the greatest live bands in the world. 
Ping-ponging from songs off the band's first album, Boys & Girls (2012), and the most recent, Sound & Color (2015), every note in the set was executed with precision and power. And even a relentless touring schedule, Howard nailed her trademark squeal at the beginning of "Don't Wanna Fight."  

The lineup at SunFest always feels as if it were randomly selected from a hat, which is undoubtedly part of its charm. But this, year we're thankful that the Alabama Shakes were selected. Because there's just no one better. 

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Ryan Pfeffer is Miami New Times’ music editor. After earning a BS in editing, writing, and media from Florida State University, Ryan joined the New Times staff in November 2013 as a web editor, where he coined the phrase "pee-tweet" (to retweet someone while urinating). Born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, he’s now neck-deep in bass and booty in the 305.
Contact: Ryan Pfeffer