Alabama Shakes bring soul-infused rock to Baldwinsville

Review: Local music fans treated to a gutsy and powerful performance Sunday night at Paper Mill Island.

Instant applause broke out as Brittany Howard strapped on her guitar and took to the stage at Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville.

The lead singer of Alabama Shakes led her band to a speedy start without an introduction on the breezy Sunday night. It became clearer that an intro was unnecessary as the crowd began to sing every word along with Howard during the opener, "Goin' to the Party."

Jonny Corndawg energizes the crowd with his band as they open for Alabama Shakes in Baldwinsville, N.Y., on Sunday.

By the time bandmates Zac Cockrell (bass), Steve Johnson (drums), Heath Fogg (guitar) and "Styrofoam Jones" (keyboard) entered into "Hang Loose," audience members did just that; bending and swaying from the knees with their heads bobbing one way and their plastic beer-filled cups swinging in the other direction.

Relatively new to the music business, Alabama Shakes performed with the ease and tenacity of any veteran. Formed only three years ago in Athens, Ala., the Shakes (as they were then called) performed mostly classic rock covers from the likes of Led Zepplin.

Fast forward to 2012, and the band released their first full-length album, Boys and Girls, in April and now are selling out shows across America.

Howard, wearing a simple, yet, sheer sleeved black dress, rarely talked in between songs Sunday night. She's a woman who means business.

She emoted every note on the love-lorn, "Heartbreaker," proving that the slower the melodic tempo, the more energy would rise from her gut, spewing words intensified by the guttural raspy quality of her voice.

The gutsy lead singer spent the rest of the night teetering between being assertive at will, yet gentle by choice in how she chose to lend her voice to the music.

Each musician who stood steadily behind her played to the tempo of her boisterous cries and flowed in and out of blues and rock and roll seamlessly.

The sizable crowd injected their energy onto the stage. Howard, feeling the connection so much, decided to share a new song with the audience.

With the sass of Pink and the steadfast groove of Al Green, Howard attacked every song with the same voracity of the last, making her title track, "Boys and Girls," a resounding musing to the female audience.

But the night didn't end there. Fans were treated to not one, but two encores by the southern rockers.

Howard persuaded the stage crew to turn the microphones back on as she whipped out a Prince-like falsetto and danced along the stage to a "Hurricane Strut."

During an encore song, Howard breaks down the intentions each song is supposed to accomplish noting that the musical bridge is for words of wisdom. After assuring that, "I'm not that wise. I've done a lot of dumb s---," she blared out one more anthem for the ever captivated audience to remember.

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