Alabama Shakes rocks Amphitheater despite rain and delayBy Bailey Shoenberger | 08/21/2015 6:49pm
Photo of lead singer Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Thursday, August 20. CW | Kinsey Haynes
Despite the constant threat of rain and lightning delays early in the show, rock band Alabama Shakes showed Tuscaloosa they meant business. Both University of Alabama students and Tuscaloosa families mingled together as the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater neared full capacity. Seating almost 8,000 people, all of the amphitheater’s seating felt close to the stage, but located right on the Black Warrior River, the intimate open-air amphitheater lent no escape from the ominous thunder.
As the rain turned from a sprinkle to a steady drizzle, the only change in the crowd was a growing eagerness to see the show start. Despite the dampness, when the opening act, Drive-by-Truckers, mounted the stage and greeted their fans, the crowd cheered and yelled. As the rain grew stronger, the crowd grew tougher, singing along to the band’s southern roots mixed with a rock and roll aesthetic.
But then, the band stopped. A representative of the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater took the stage and told the crowd that the amphitheater was in the path of severe lightning strikes and had to be evacuated immediately. The Alabama Shakes would only go on if the concert was declared safe by the city.
A mad dash for cars and cover from the rain ensued, but amidst the confusion, everyone turned to social media, keeping a close eye on the amphitheater’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Fans didn’t have to wait long. A little over a half an hour later, the doors were open again.
When the audience was back in its seats, the amphitheater felt even more packed and alive than before, and when Alabama Shakes took the stage, their grateful attitude set the stage for an amazing show.
Alabama Shakes did not disappoint. Just as their new album’s title promised, this was a show full of both sound and color. Lead singer Brittany Howard thanked their Tuscaloosa fans, reminiscing of a time when the Amphitheater allowed them to play before they grew more successful and well known. From there, she immediately pulled the crowd into her soulful lyrics. The emotions coming from the Shakes were palpable. Howard had the ability to make the audience truly believe in every lyric she sung. The band’s psychedelic beats were accentuated with a dazzling array of colors from the stage lights. Every instrument blended together and reverberated through the crowd. Every note soared loud and clear, and Howard’s vocals exceeded expectations. Alabama Shakes showed that they were worth both the wait and the rain, making magic happen with every song.
The crowd sang along to almost all the songs, cheering, hollering and complimenting Howard on her floor-length orange and purple floral dress. At the end of Shakes’ set, everyone in the amphitheater rose to their feet for a standing ovation and refused to stop cheering until the Shakes returned to the stage for an encore. For a moment, the crowd sounded like thunder.