LIVE: Keller Williams @ Skyloft, Albany 10/24/2019
Skyloft is the newest music venue to the Albany area, which opened this past spring and is located in the Crossgates Mall. It’s an impressive concert space that since opening has hosted diverse musical acts of all genres. This past Thursday, October 24th, Skyloft welcomed one-man-band extraordinaire, Keller Williams.
The lights dimmed as Keller Williams surprised the audience with walking through the crowd strumming his guitar before heading up onto the stage. There’s various guitars at the ready, complete with a bass set up, laptop, a Hand Sonic percussion tool and a dizzying number of pedal machines. Williams starts the set with “Beat My Chest,” giving fans a taste of his finger picking speed and ear for timing. Keeping with the “chest” theme, Keller goes into “The Big One” an upbeat song about the possibility of having a heart attack but embracing living for the moment with a highlighted guitar heartbeat rhythm.
Keller throws out a few heavy bass notes, causing the crowd to give big cheers as he begins to slowly build up the melody and start looping. There’s no turning back as Williams starts to construct layers of sound that soon morph into music. He has a playful stage presence thanks to his notable facial expressions and microphone dancing, and of course the occasional imaginary but very real cymbal crash. Continuing with the storytelling, he sings “She Rolls” about a young girl who steals a cop car, with a vocal tone similar to Dave Matthews.
A fun twist for the night were the covers that Keller Williams incorporated into his sets. It’s not a secret that he is Grateful Dead fan, especially with his steady cover of “Scarlet Begonias” with a surprise segue into Phish’s “The Wedge.” After a quick set break, Keller Williams came back on stage with a lively “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States. Being the good humored conductor that he is, Williams encouraged crowd participation by signaling them to sing out and help with the crescendos. It’s fascinating to see where the music goes, how it starts from a small repetitive beat to fully orchestrated song, with the addition of instruments one by one.
Giving way to Keller Williams bluegrass side, he played “Mullet Cut” off his album with The Travelin’ McCoury’s, adding in a jaw harp for a swampy vibe. The night took a turn as he bounced between bluegrass and funk with the addition of technological horns throughout the jams. Williams reigned in the crowd for a unison singalong of “Perpendicular Teeth” and “Doobie in my Pocket,” accompanied with a unique slide whistle. And he added a vulgar driven song that had Williams comparing the female concertgoers with angels.
The show came to an end with a Grateful Dead cover of “St. Stephen” and a beautiful encore of instrumental bliss with thunderous drums and raindrop like wind chimes. Keller Williams is a mad scientist of music. His experimental and improvisational jams create unique performances for fans that can expect something different every show.