Music » Livewire

The Legendary Shack Shakers

With Ghostwriter and the Whiskey Daredevils. Saturday, August 26, at the Beachland Ballroom.


Robert Plant called them "fucking great," inviting the manic quartet to open for him on his forthcoming European tour. And no wonder: The Shack Shakers are among the best live acts on the rock circuit. Irrepressible frontman J.D. Wilkes' bug-eyed stage presence combines the fervor of a Pentecostal preacher with the ribald rock spirit of Jerry Lee Lewis.

The Shack Shakers' sound mines a wide stretch of Americana, from rockabilly and gut-bucket blues to gospel, cabaret rag, and even klezmer, all pumped up by punky rhythms. The band's latest, Pandelirium, adopts an even broader palette and delivers more mid-tempo, New Orleans-style carnival numbers, sounding like a cockeyed blend of Tom Waits and Gogol Bordello. It's a smart play that demonstrates their versatility and might help them avoid the pigeonholing that has ghettoized kindred spirit Reverend Horton Heat. And Wilkes is arguably the greater artist, melding a southern gothic sensibility with roots rock and punk in an even more intriguing way than the Cramps.

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