02/08/2016 Orlando Weekly, Concert review , 'Legendary Shack Shakers return from hiatus and completely destroy (Will's Pub)'
Monotonix, Lightning Bolt, Bob Log III – these are legends of live experience. And the Legendary Shack Shakers (Feb. 5, Will’s Pub) are in this elite company. With the gift of musical, conceptual and physical genius, it all has to do with bandleader J.D. Wilkes.
Between his music, writing, filmmaking and illustration, Wilkes is actually one of the most eminent artistic ambassadors of the Southern mystique. He doesn’t shy away from its dark old blood – he conjures it. Like the juiciest episodes of Justified, his portraits and caricatures aren’t the facile hick stereotypes. It’s the vision of a wickedly smart good ol’ boy who not only knows his heritage but knows how to work it with diabolism.
With the Shack Shakers, Wilkes has crafted one of the truly great underground live bands over the 20 years of their raucous existence. Straight from the Iggy Pop school of performance, his wild hillbilly leprechaun stage presence is as punk as it is slapstick. And he attacks the live show with a crazed Pentecostal fire and an eye wink.
But due to a hiatus that saw Wilkes pursue his other also-notable artistic muses – including the Dirt Daubers, a band he fronts with wife Jessica Lee Wilkes – it’s been a handful of years since the Shack Shakers have been here after a long chain of regular stops. And, clearly, Orlando has felt the privation because a full house turned out to receive the return with total event buzz. See, boys? We miss you.
They’re back on the heat of a new album, The Southern Surreal, on Alternative Tentacles. The new material’s less like the Mack truck mania of yore and more of a sonorous tracing of the American roots like a dark, sinister Southern Culture on the Skids, but it’s quite a good maturing of their aesthetic.
Wilkes, however, has ceded nothing in his showmanship, thankfully. And they tore it up live like they’ve always done in the past like no other. One interesting detail was seeing Fuller Condon of the Two Man Gentlemen Band (another band that used to play the area frequently) on upright bass.
Truly, it was pure bliss to see them back in business and back in town again. They’re so legitimately great that even all the tens of thousands of words I’ve summoned to try and capture the spectacle over the years have always fallen a bit short. So, maybe just this one time, I’ll let the photos illustrate the total concert porn that is a Legendary Shack Shakers show: