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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 24, 2014

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The Alabama Shakes at the Riverside.
The Alabama Shakes at the Riverside.

Friday fish, fun and fantastic Southern rock

For me, a normal weekend usually consists of hustling about my part-time jobs, maybe getting a work out in, and spending some time with friends. Weekends are when those of us in service industry jobs tend to have our busiest nights, so typically I'd rather pick-up rather than lose a shift. However, last Friday I was off from work, free to roam, with plans to see Alabama Shakes at the Riverside.

We started the night at John Hawks Pub. We were cutting it a little close to concert time, but luck was on my side and there wasn't a wait when we arrived. We were able to score a small booth with the ability to somewhat overlook the river (due mostly to the fact that the tables blocking our line of vision were empty). I barely glanced at my menu and immediately ordered the fish fry - after all, it's Friday in Wisconsin. The fish fry was excellent, but my beer selection faltered.

Another big plus about John Hawks Pub is that it's located just a few short steps from the Riverside. We already accomplished the daunting mission of parking, which only took 30 minutes, and after dinner we easily marched over the bridge to the venue.

The doors for the show opened at 7 p.m., we chose to arrive closer to 8:15 p.m. By the time we made our way to the stage, the opening band was playing their last few songs.

Although this is the second time I've seen Alabama Shakes, the first show I went to was after I spent the day partaking in the North Avenue Stumble. As you can imagine, the show was a bit of a blur after eight consecutive hours frolicking from bar to bar. This time around I intended to be fully present for the show.

The concert was completely sold out and the seats filled quickly. I maneuvered to the front, hoping to score a great view of the show. It didn't take long before Alabama Shakes took the stage.

Lead singer, Brittany Howard, completely blew me away. Her voice rivals that of the best female leads. She brings a sort of classic rock charm to the bands overall feel. The energy in the crowd completely fit the show. Applause and shouts rang out fiercely as the band concluded their hit "Hold On."

They played a mix of songs from their most recent album and even threw in a few new pieces. After a little taste of what the next album may sound like, I'm already sold. I don't think I stopped dancing from the beginning until the end of the show's encore.

Our group decided to continue our dance party at Moct. Friday night happened to be their eight year anniversary party. The theme was '80s and I have to compliment the staff on dressing the part. Our bartender was decked out in a typical '80s outfit accompanied by blue eye shadow and red lipstick. It was perfect.

A few more hours of dancing left me beat and ready for bed. I may not have lasted all night jiving around Milwaukee, but it was definitely a great start to my weekend and the perfect way to spend a work-free Friday evening.

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