Alabama Shakes 12/8 Brooklyn Bowl Review

Alabama Shakes Up Brooklyn by Tina Benitez

Jerry Lee Lewis once said “there’s nothin’ like tearing up a good club now and then,” and Alabama Shakes definitely have the ability to rip through a venue. Already breathy with visible beads of sweat on her forehead and neck just two songs into the band’s 15-song set at Brooklyn Bowl, singer Brittany Howard instantly set the tone for the remainder of the night. The first of three New York shows, including a secret show on Dec. 10 at the Lakeside Lounge, the Athens, Ala. quartet sold out each night. “There’s an awful lot of you,” said singer Brittany Howard. The band pounded through an hour-plus set—even distracting some serious bowlers from their timed game. One second Howard is melodically screeching like a reincarnated Janis Joplin, the next she’s rotating the stage more than the boys ripping through her Gibson like Chuck Berry.

Moving through songs from their EP and upcoming debut album, Boys & Girls, the band played heavy blues and more Motown flashbacks in “Hold On” and “You Ain’t Alone” with Howard evoking James Brown from her grunts down to the cool whip of her sweaty nose and brown. Midway through, Howard glossed over a popped G string on her guitar, and the band played on. Howard, along with guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell and drummer Steve Johnson, have indeed come a long way since their cover days two years ago from raved CMJ shows, a successful tour with Drive By Truckers and their upcoming gigs at this year’s SXSW. Even if Howard and co. emit a bounty of legends, there’s not an ounce of evidence that shows she, or they, fake any of it.

Photo by Tina Benitez. Check out more of Tina’s work at

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