Alejandro Rose-Garcia is too sinewy, cheekbone-y cute and actor-ish to be considered a rustic, boho hobo folk singer, let alone a solitary bluesy one-man band. That's more the job of Austin-based Shakey Graves, Rose-Garcia's bummy, strumming, country-punk alter ego who sang his heart out at the Electric Factory on Saturday night, stuffing the room full with boyish, like-minded, boxcar-riding imitators and their gals with matching bandanna-on-a-stick accoutrements.
Graves, a longtime local favorite with two albums (2011's Roll the Bones, 2014's And the War Came) to his name, was all bluesy bluster and gutsy dirtball directness as he bounced around the stage, hooting, hollering, billing and cooing in a chipper, raspy voice. Like Hank Williams III without the dire hardcore metal rush and clunk, Graves worked his ambient alt-country magic like a rib when alone on stage for the musky likes of "Roll the Bones" and "Late July." His insistent smile and manicured stubble made even the most brooding song (e.g. "Bully's Lament") jovial.
There was delicious triple-time energy to everything Shakey shook loose, as if to frantically fill in for his full-blooded music's missing pieces, but the frenzy was necessary to what he puts forth, so much so that the latter half of the set had a downright unfinished feel to its run of songs such as "Dearly Departed." It was if Graves was thinking about the next tune and the tune after that, rather than completing the thought of the song he was playing. The fact that first a drummer (on the wiggy "If Not for You"), then an additional duo of musicians wound up on stage playing guitar and bass didn't allow Graves to relax. "Family and Genus" was fringe, racing rock with its leader kicking up his heels.
For all his common-man elements - the low slung trucker cap, the friendly between-song tales, the Texas state flag draped across his amps - Graves sonically couldn't hide the fact that there was something grander in his sound, something eerily atmospheric and elegant to "Word of Mouth" and "Only Son." Without damning him with faint praise, there was something epically Coldplay-ish to his melodies, an ascent, a push that took his vocals from their usual rasp into something cooler, smoother and bigger.
While that elegant weight is something that came through on his most recent album, it was fascinating to hear Graves, in a live setting, sounding not so shaky after all.