Shakerleg is the most intense subway performer we’ve ever seen or heard. Walk anywhere near the Union Square L tracks any given evening and you will likely hear the echoing of Shakerleg’s custom-welded drum set. Walk any closer and you'll be drawn to drums like the snake to the flute. One look at Shakerleg’s wildstyle, stick-free, bare-knuckle drumming and you know he’s more concerned with this moment than a long term career in drumming.
NYC’s subway system is littered with performers of all musical persuasions (and varying levels of talent). So Shakerleg’s mere existence as an ‘underground’ artist ain’t the news we’re bringing you. What we feel compelled to share is a story of ‘underground’ superstardom. What does it mean to be an underground superstar? Well, if you’ve been flown half way around the world to perform in another city’s subway system, then you are one. That’s pretty much the standard we’re using.
Last year, with the financial backing of the Amigo Hotel in Seoul, Shakerleg and a handful of other NYC subway artists flew to Korea to perform in various subway stops and hotels in Seoul. The intention was to promote ‘underground’ culture and boost local tourism in Korea’s capital. By the end of their visit, Shakerleg and the other artists had been interviewed by every major paper and were guests on every major Korean talk show. A few months later he was flown back to Seoul for an encore series. Say superstar.
Shakerleg is good. He can bang those drums like he invented it. In fact, he does claim to have invented a percussion technique that involves striking the cymbals on the way up after a downswing (think Jack Black’s inward singing: “Think about it, man! Rock singers are only rocking you half the time!!!"). But he also displays proficiency with other techniques. His choice of the Union Square L line goes beyond the favorable acoustics. The L line at Union Square is arguably the most important thoroughfare for NYC’s hipster digerati and cultutal creatives. If you’re after this fertile audience of hip “trendsetters” porting digital cams and high-speed internet connections, then that platform is a ready example. In fact, you may evern get approached by a documentary filmmaker looking to make you the subject of his next film.
That is actually how Shakerleg’s story will be told next, and his location at Union Square has a lot to do with it. Rozaur Alexander, an up and coming documentary filmmaker at NYU, met Shakerleg on that very platform a few months ago and has since collected dozens of hours of footage of Shakerleg’s disorderly, impromptu performances. Their goal is to get the film in the hands of Conan O’Brien and land a spot on his show. If that doesn’t work, Shakerleg plans to rock out the lobby of NBC (while Rozaur gets it on tape) until he gets the answer he’s looking for. Some of his other plans are organizing a cross-country tour (filmmaker in tote) breaking noise ordinances and causing trouble all over the US of A. Shakerleg’s the kind of guy not afraid to tango with the authorities. His eyes lit up when we talked to him about some of the crazy stunts that artists are pulling. So we’re planning a little joint brainstorming session to see what degree of extralegality we can reach. We’ll keep you clued in.