Part 8 of the 2019 Deutschtown Music Festival In Review
Gator Shakes are a metalcore band from Pittsburgh; they play loudly and aggressively, as any metal band should. Not sure if their band name refers to the tremors of alcoholic alligators that have gone cold turkey or to a refreshing smoothie made out of alligators. Either would be metal as fuck.
On the way back to the Deutschtown Music Festival’s epicenter from the dusty, remote parking lot of Threadbare Cider House (where Bonnie and the Mere Mortals had just shimmered and yeehawed), I stopped back at St. Mary’s Lyceum, where I knew Gator Shakes would be playing a 7pm set in the basement. I was tipped off about the band thanks to an article in the PGH City Paper, and since I had already seen hip-hop, funk, R&B, and countrygaze(?) shows that day, I decided that some earsplitting metal would be just the thing. Even so, my ears were not prepared.
Since I hadn’t actually listened to Gator Shakes’ music before that day, I wasn’t sure if they were a Metallica-style singing band or a lung-shredding, “This vocalist sounds like he’s going to die” band. This was cleared up during soundcheck, when frontman Jake Morgan was testing his mic; “Check…check…check…check CHECK CHYEEEAAAAHHHK!” The intensity only ratcheted up from there.
I’m not sure if it was the linoleum floors of the St. Mary basement, my position relative to one or more speakers, or what, but Gator Shakes put on the loudest damn show I’ve ever seen. Some of Morgan’s higher-pitched shrieks felt like nails driving into my eardrums; the same was true for guitarist Joshua Bradley’s rapidly-picked, atonal fills and drummer Cody Schillo’s thunderous crash cymbal hits. And it was awesome. It’s not often that I viscerally feel a concert, but that was the case on this fine Saturday evening. My hearing didn’t fully recover until halfway through the week.
Musically, the band is tight, alternating between rapid, hardcore-inspired passages full of knotty riffage and meaty bass (courtesy of Chris Barbour), and chugging, rhythmic breakdowns. You can get a sense of the band’s sound by listening to their first single, “Traitor to the Cause,” released in May. Despite the temporary deafness that resulted from seeing Gator Shakes, I look forward to hearing more from them in the future.