Ten Best Things We Saw At Shaky Knees Festival

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  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from chorus.fm for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    A few weekends ago, I was able to attend Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to being held in one of the best cities I have visited on the East Coast thus far, Shaky Knees also had the added benefit of putting on the most killer festival lineup this side of Riot Fest. With fantastic sets across all of the days and stages from the earliest Sunday doldrums (more on that later) to the main stage headlining acts. Below you’ll find my 10 favorite things from the festival along with some photos I took over the weekend.

    10. Foxing’s Conor Murphy Battles Through Illness, while Beach Slang Brings Transcendent Rock and Roll to the Earl

    If you were smart enough to make your way over to the sold-out The Earl on Friday night, after the festival ended, you were treated to one of the most delirious, eclectic afterparties of Shaky Knees weekend.

    [​IMG]Foxing took the stage first, for their second set of the day, and vocalist Conor Murphy’s throat fought back against the extra work. Despite battling a vocal ailment that made the higher end of his register a challenge, Murphy put on one of the bravest performances I’ve seen on a stage, gritting through “Three on a Match” and “Indica” — songs with an emphasis on a near constant falsetto. Cheekily, the band inserted a reference to the singer’s now-gruff voice into the bridge of “Night Channels,” playing an impromptu cover of Macy Gray’s classic “I Try.”

    Beach Slang, meanwhile, brought a transformative energy to the sold out crowd. The band launched into a set that had even the older audience members pogoing in the name of the rock-and-roll spirit of staying young forever. Beach Slang, it should be noted, isn’t a band whose music seems a natural fit for a festival stage. They feed off the energy, the sweat, the brow-beating intensity of a raucous crowd. I wish the band all the success in the world, and their music certainly warrants it, but if there is a way to maintain the success and financial windfall of playing festivals, while continuing to perform in venues like The Earl every night, Beach Slang would be the ideal candidate to test it out on.

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    9. The Dear Hunter Played a 9-Minute Song in Their Festival Set, And Damn It Was Worth It

    The Dear Hunter, the brainchild of Casey Crescenzo, played a mid-afternoon set on Saturday. Although he had a shorter set than usual due to it being a music festival, he spared no expense in making sure he fit all his best songs into the time he had. Rarely stopping to do any talking, he ripped through the powerful “Mustard Gas” from Act III, “A Curse of Cynicism” and “Home” from The Color Spectrum series, “Waves” from Act IV, and the closing song was “Whisper” from Migrant. But the most pleasant surprise was the sweeping, bombastic lead single of Act IV, “A Night On The Town.” The band played every movement within the song, right down to the last, playful piano strands, which call to mind the earlier “Mustard Gas.” It was an excess, certainly, but a delightful one to take in.

    8. The Front Bottoms Deliver the Party to Shaky Knees

    Placed in the early Friday slot on Shaky Knees’ schedule, The Front Bottoms played at a time in which it seemed all of the festivals attendees were still getting their legs under them. By the end of The Front Bottoms’ hour-long set, however, it seemed as though the festival was officially underway. They kicked things off with “Skeleton,” and there were “good vibes all around” from then on out.

    7. Frances Quindlan of Hop Along Asserts Herself as Indie Rock’s Best Vocalist

    Hop Along come from the new epicenter of indie rock: Philadelphia. It’s not hard to see why Philly is having a moment in the spotlight. It has begun to assert itself as the blue-collar alternative to Manhattan, the art-school credibility of Brooklyn without the negative connotations. The bands are self-referential and incestuous in a way that only fosters, develops and perfects growth. Bands die, but from their ashes, even better bands are born. Such is the story with Hop Along. They took what many consider to be a modern classic emo band (Algernon Cadwallder) shredded it down to its bare essentials, and then threw one of the most powerful, evocative voices in indie rock at the forefront. Quindlan’s caustic, throat-ripping howl carried for miles across Georgia International Plaza, searing into the brains of all festival-goers. It was a raw, visceral experience watching Quindlan and company perform, one I’m certain hundreds of thousands of festival goers will surely experience in the upcoming years. It’s imperative that Hop Along becomes a household name in indie rock.

    6. Walk the Moon Wields Their Relentless Optimism as a Weapon Against Negativity

    I can’t say I’ve ever seen a band more absolutely joyous from the moment they walked on stage to when the time comes to depart it than Walk The Moon. Their music has a bubbly and giddly tonality to it, which certainly comes through in their performances, but it goes deeper than that. As they walked out on stage, fittingly to The Lion King’s blissful “The Circle of Life,” all I could think about is how happy these men seem to be to be alive. Even in a time of great sadness and tumult in singer Nick Petricca’s personal life, Walk the Moon proved time and again on stage that they are able to find the light in even the darkest of moments, and they won’t let anything “bring them back down in the dumps.” It’s an admirable and so often a thankless quality for a band to have. It also helps when you have the ultimate trump card to throw in near the end of the set: the world-beating “Shut Up and Dance.”

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    5. Ghost Extolls the Virtues of Satanism to a Crowd of Young People Waiting For The 1975

    [​IMG]In what was surely the weekend’s greatest bit of unintentional (or, perhaps, if the scheduling committee has a sense of humor, intentional) comedy was watching Swedish heavy metal band Ghost perform to a crowd of largely pre-teens waiting for The 1975 to come on stage. The band, who play entirely in costume, with five unnamed people in ghostly masks manning the instruments and a skelton-like, smooth-talking, vocalist who goes by the name of Papa Emeritus, took ample time in between songs to needle the young crowd. It seemed they were aware of the probability that the vast majority were not there for them, giving them the freedom to be even more eccentric on stage. At one point, before their last song, Papa Emiritus began an approximately three minute speech about the female orgasm and how the catholic church wants women to feel shame in their pleasure, and you could almost hear the uncomfortable squirming in the crowd. That is, until someone in the crowd shouted “Hail Satan!” at the top of their lungs, everyone laughed, and the tension was broken. What a weirdly entertaining experience.

    4. Julien Baker and Noah Gundersen prove Sad Songs Have a Place

    While both Julien Baker and Noah Gundersen are incredibly, absurdly talented musicians, I was a tad bit nervous how their stripped down sounds would carry over to a massive festival setting. All the weekend did was prove how immense talent seems to trump any and all external factors. Even as Gundersen forwent his entire backing band for a performance of “Selfish Art” during his early Saturday performance, his voice still boomed powerfully across the lawn. Even more pulverizing was the shocking performance of Carry The Ghost standout “Heartbreaker” — a song he has only played a handful of times since the album’s release. The song was incendiary in a live setting though, and was easily his set highlight. Julien Baker, meanwhile, continues to prove to me that she is among the greatest, if not the greatest, current songwriters in the world. Her noon set on Sunday was worth getting to the festival gates early, as her voice seemed other-worldly floating along the late Spring breeze. She battled through some early set technical difficulties admirably, giving a smirking response to her board op when he accidentally spoke over the PA instead of the monitors.

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    Noah Gundersen by Craig Ismaili


    3. Against Me Bring The Fire; Debut New Songs

    Against Me! seemed justifiably angry throughout their hour set at Shaky Knees. All throughout the American South, the “bathroom issue” seems to be raised near daily by some ignorant politician, none worse than in North Carolina. That was Against Me!’s next stop after the festival, where HB2 continues to threaten fundamental civil liberties of transgender citizens. The set that the band played in response to the incessant and ignorant political debating was fundamentally riotous in nature. Culminating in an incendiary, profanity-laden speech against the lawmakers, the band then ripped into “True Trans Soul Rebel.” Nowhere could you find a more potent political protest on the weekend’s lineup than this.

    2. Explosions in the Sky Is Everything Beautiful In The World

    When I was thirteen years old, I wrote up a list of bands I wanted to see live someday. This was not long after I attended my first real concert (Trapt at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown — leave me alone it was ten years ago). Now ten years later, I still needed to check one band off that list: Explosions in the Sky. The landmark band in the post-rock genre, Explosions has been a favorite of mine from the moment I heard their song “Your Hand In Mine.” I finally got a chance to watch Explosions in the Sky perform live, not once, but twice during Shaky Knees weekend. The first was during their aftershow at the Variety Playhouse (or as they called it the “pre-show aftershow”). The second was their set as the sun went down Sunday night. I couldn’t possibly imagine either set being any more perfect. The band is so tightly rehearsed live, it’s as if their albums are coming to life in front of your very eyes (and ears). I was a huge fan of the band’s most recent album The Wilderness, so to see a half dozen songs performed from it was a pleasant surprise. However, it was the song that got me into the band, “Your Hand In Mine” that, even despite some obnoxious people talking over the intro in both crowds, made me feel as through I was having an out-of-body experience by the end. That is what music should truly feel like every time.

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    1. The 1975 Are The Greatest Pop Band In The World


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    by Craig Ismaili

    That headline may be a bit of hyperbole. But is it, though? The 1975 have now put out the best pop album of 2016 so far (in my opinion) and they released the best pop album of 2013 (again, in my opinion). They have played arenas all across the United States and the United Kingdom, they are hopefully well on their way to having the same kind of chart success in the United States as they do touring success. I’m not entirely sure what else they could hope to accomplish at this point. Their entire set at Shaky Knees, opposite the festival’s headliner My Morning Jacket (who I unfortunately had to pretty much completely miss because of the conflict) absolutely blew my mind. Their stage set up is unlike any I have ever seen. It is so adaptable to the mood of each individual song, while still maintaining a consistent visual aesthetic that has become so synonymous with The 1975. And then of course there was the performance. My God, the performance. Taking the best cuts fromm the bands newest album, the band pulled off the infinitely catchy “She’s American” and the dance hall anthem “The Sound” just as much as they did the dirge of “Somebody Else” or the soothing gospel of “If I Believe You.” You just had to marvel at them at every stage. [​IMG]
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    The 1975 by Craig Ismaili

     
  2. johnnyutes

    Vaya con Dios Supporter

    Nice write-up. Very enjoyable read
     
  3. DearCory

    Regular

    Was there... in fact you can see the back of my head on the 1975 pics! Great write up... I'd say you hit the nail on the head. I'd only add Brian Fallon's charming solo set.
     
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  5. Steve_JustAGuy

    Trusted

    I don't know, I think I'd consider Walk The Moon a greater pop band than The 1975.
     
    Guys Named Todd likes this.
  6. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Had to miss this for The Front Bottoms. Killed me to do, but I like The Front Bottoms a bit more and was interviewing them. Still upset about that overlap and the Japanese House/Foxing overlap.
     
  7. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I mean, The 1975 are 1 and Walk The Moon are 2. I can't even begin to tell you how much joy I felt during the entirety of both band's sets.
     
    Luroda likes this.
  8. Steve_JustAGuy

    Trusted

    They are both great, and you're right, Walk The Moon is so relentlessly positive it's contagious. As far as my hypothetical rankings I think 1975 needs that radio hit that they haven't had. I do want to see their new live set up, because it looks great.
     
  9. Snewt

    Does whatever a spider can. Prestigious

  10. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I'm there no doubt! Thanks for hanging out with me so I didn't feel so alone in a new city. You're a good pal.

    Also stop pitching so well this week, thanks.
     
    Snewt likes this.
  11. SEANoftheDEAD

    cologne.band

    Awesome write-up. Super strong line-up top to bottom, and a lot of love was thrown out to a couple of my faves - THe 1975 and WTM.
     
  12. 9th At Pine

    Last one out of Liberty City burn it to the ground

    The 1975 played Friday, My Morning Jacket played Saturday. I know because I saw both haha. Good write up though! It was a great fest. I flew in from Chicago and I plan on going again next year. Love how spacious and chill the whole thing is.
     
  13. 9th At Pine

    Last one out of Liberty City burn it to the ground

    I'd also add in Deftones and Frightened Rabbit as two of the best sets of the weekend
     
  14. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I missed MMJ for Walk The Moon, right. I missed Jane's Addiction for The 1975. Forgot about that. Was a long weekend for sure. I loved both that Deftones set and Frightened Rabbit for sure. So many good performances. I skipped Silversun Pickups and Foals who were great, along with Atlas Genius, Florence, and the thing I closed my festival with the tail end of At The Drive In's set. What a jam packed lineup.
     
  15. whitenblue88

    The rivalry is back on

    Really good write up! I'd add the Wolf Alice & The Head and the Heart sets to that list, but it really was a great festival start to finish. I saw maybe 1 set all weekend where I didn't walk away more impressed with the band than I was before their set.
     
  16. 9th At Pine

    Last one out of Liberty City burn it to the ground

    Strand of Oaks was probably my favorite discovery of the weekend. I had only listened to their album once before the fest and they put on an excellent show. Anyone else find any new bands at the fest?
     
  17. whitenblue88

    The rivalry is back on

    I'd heard their music before, but I enjoyed Savages' and Atlas Genius' sets much more than I thought I would have. Really great live shows from both of them.
     
  18. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Didnt catch H+TH but I really enjoyed Wolf Alice's set.
     
  19. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    Ghost probably, or Foals, both of which I had heard of, but never really listened to before. Both seemed to be a ton of fun. I had definitely heard probably 3 of Foals' songs before
     
  20. whitenblue88

    The rivalry is back on

    I thought the bass was very high in the mix of Wolf Alice's set, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but Ellie's voice was great and I loved that they played a bunch from their EPs. My Love Is Cool was my AOTY last year, so seeing them live was my #1 reason to do Shaky Knees instead of Bonnaroo or Hangout this year.
     
  21. whitenblue88

    The rivalry is back on

    I've heard that about Foals too. My sister won tickets to the SSPU/Foals/Joywave show in Nashville a couple days later and said that Foals stole the show, even though she hadn't heard them at all before that. I'm bummed I missed them, but that set time was awful and the aftershow sold out fast too.
     
  22. lolfpcmlol

    Regular

    This was such a well run and great concert. The 1975, Foals, Young The Giant and Florence were my favorites. I wonder where they will have it next year as it's switched venues each year. It didn't seem crowded enough for the amount of space they had which makes me wonder if they sold enough tickets to make it worth it. However, that only added to the enjoyment as getting beers, food, and to the bathroom was a piece of cake. What a line up, what a weekend. Also, living in Atlanta, thanks for the positive comments on the city. It has a reputation it doesn't deserve. I love living here.
     
    DearCory likes this.
  23. cwhit

    goomba Prestigious

    you missed the most fun and happy set of the weekend because you missed diet cig grug!!!

    also ought is unreal and i'm sad nobody saw them
     
  24. Snewt

    Does whatever a spider can. Prestigious

    I didn't catch Ought, but I did see Diet Cig. They were a ton of fun. It was pretty funny when they cut their set short because they "played all the songs we know."

    I think grug was napping in the shaded media tent >-p
     
    cwhit likes this.
  25. Craig Ismaili

    @tgscraig Prestigious

    I was. Had my shoes off and my feet up on an ottoman and enjoying the air conditioning. It was dope.

    I regret nothing (bummer that I missed a good set but I was petered out by that point)
     
    Snewt likes this.
  26. cwhit

    goomba Prestigious

    She's just so happy on stage, makes me feel so good, haha
     
    Snewt likes this.