Words // Garrett Smith – Photos // Ellie Alonzo & Garrett Smith
Alright y’all – it’s finally that time to bid farewell to Shaky Knees once and for all – for this year, at least. Before we go, though, we have one last, grand finale of a day to recap for you, our beautiful readers. Whether you were in attendance alongside us, or are there in spirit, now, reliving every emotional moments as if you were beside us the whole time – we appreciate you taking this journey with us.
Hop in and get out for one last day aboard the Shaky Knees express, won’t you?
// Day 3
This breezy sunlit Sunday began, for us, with a similarly bright, daytime artist in the form of Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real. Ol’ Willie’s progeny is a veritable continuation of his father’s work, but bearing its own standard as a new wave of hippie country rock. Each song is a portal into the singer’s life – some road songs written on tours with his father, and other’s retelling the romantic life he holds behind closed doors. No matter the window through which we peak, Nelson delivers on his eponymous promise, and gives us the broken mosaic of his own personal truth.
Next up comes a band proclaiming themselves to be on the journey to “being the best band in the world”, and while they may not be quite there, the LA indie rockers sure do inspire confidence towards that pursuit. At once a combination of underplayed electronic dance and sultry neo-soul croonings, Sir Sly attains the “indie” label if only to give them something solid in the midst of an apparently genre-fluid oeuvre. They are smiles galore, but with nothing so vapid or happy-go-lucky about their music. It feels precise as a well-oiled machine, and the rhythm of the crowd reflect that just as well.
Alice Merton has risen the radio-ranks with her soulful affectation and punchy, dance-style rock. The singer-songwriter has, since her breakout hit “No Roots”, gone on to be a recurring face on the airwaves, and if you haven’t checked her out intentionally – you’ll be hearing her soon enough, either way.
A personal favorite of ours, and a set of faces you’ve seen a few times between the lines of our website, Alvvays made a sunny day all the brighter with their whimsical, surfer-turned-pixie-punk vibes. We’re always excited to see this group, and their light ascendant tones mixed with frontwoman Molly Rankin’s matter-of-fact bright, poppy vocals find no difficulty in lighting up every face in the crowd. This has been our first chance to catch tunes off their latest release, Antisocialites, which delves more into pop-punk/dream-punk territory than their poppier freshman self-titled release.
It’s been a joy, as alvvays.
Post Animal held the stage simultaneously at the Criminal Records stage while Alvvays played at the Peachtree stage, and the two could not be more dynamically opposed. If Alvvays is the light side of the Force, Post Animal is the dark side – but there is nothing evil in the latter’s music. Rather, Post Animal delivers a heavier style of music that, to this listener, feels like a contemporary spiritual successor to early Black Sabbath Ozzy – with a little electronic, post-psychedelia rock. It’s a continuation of that understated darkness that bands like Sabbath began; an ominous tone here or there in the vocals and instrumentation, that is, nonetheless, elevated by classic rock chords and newly spun progressions.
Which takes us to another kind of throwback – All Time Low, a band that many of us haven’t listened to since the pubescent hell of our early middle school and high school days. To have made it through such strange times can be attributable only to bands like ATL, who today, playing at a festival in the ATL, take us back to our first enchantment with the emo scene, and bring us back to all those delectably nostalgic vibes. And the guys are clearly happy as can be; a decided departure from the sadness that fueled their music, but –
a personified reflection of the optimism that they gave us all, nonetheless.
Our next band graced the A-town scene for the first time in the band’s history – as well as performing their first American tour since forming in 2014. These electro-pop Aussies had their first single produced by Daft Punk, and Parcels have never looked back since. They are without a doubt in the same vein as Daft Punk, with a disco-soul vibe and decidedly dance-worthy jams. They do bring more focus onto guitar-centric music, which adds to that neo-soul vibe that many of us Americans find irresistible.
It’s verifiably boogy-inducing.
Another legendary reunion was on the scene today, and like the Distillers before them, Basement is a truly punk/alt-rock legend. Their fuzzy overtures combined with moody, emo-esque vocals cemented the band’s place in the alternative pantheon, and we couldn’t be happier to see them reunited and, even crazier, performing live on stage in the heart of Georgia.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club continued in the same vein of angsty malaise, bearing with them a similar flag of angry, shoegazy garage rock that pairs so perfectly with the noise of Basement. They’re dressed exactly as one would imagine based off the name, as if James Dean himself hopped out of the grave and onto the stage to deliver a rebellious, greaser rock.
Two of our next appearances are both singer-songwriters dominating the airwaves right now – Lord Huron and Vance Joy. While the former has a more atmospheric, and at times ethereal instrumental backing, the latter is pure radio-friendly singing, with music that fades into the background as soaring, boyish falsetto rules the day. Huron is the less poppy, more alternative of the two, with more mature sounding vocals.
Nevertheless, one would be hard pressed to have not heard tunes from either of these rising stars.
In a slight departure from the last two – but within the same family, like cousins, maybe once removed – The Menzingers came in on the heels of the moody alt-rockers above with a happy pop-punk set that brightened our day like no others. Whether it’s the anthemic “After the Party”, or the playful radio-rock of “Bad Catholics”, the band ousts themselves as the heralds of middle America, giving us glimpses into the lives of trailer park residents, wrestlers, rednecks, Catholics – and, above all, young average-upbringing men and women with a lot to say. Their performance is pure energy, and a positive one at that – but like many pop-punkers, we know that that optimism is a thin sheen on which we trepidatiously balance, careful not to fall into the abyss which it covers. They are the masters of sadness-turned-to-the-light; spinners of any innocuous circumstance.
They can take even the most mundane of lives and imbue them with divinity.
The Voidz, of course, remain peak Julian Casablancas. Dim, erratic lighting, muffled distant-sounding vocals, and instrumentation that defies genre, but resides somewhere between noise-rock and preppy-punk. Peak. Julian.
We’re now closing in on the finale – but we’ve got one larger-than-life legendary stop first. To say we were in disbelief at catching the world’s greatest guitar duo is an understatement; after all, there would be no set of words to accurately capture being in the presence of gods-among-mortals.
We’ll do our best.
Tenacious D graced us with their presence on this fine Sunday, the Lord’s Day – but metal and the fight against Satan were the focus of the set. Jack Black and Kyle “KG” Gass may have a little more grey in their beards – or, in KG’s case, have a little more beard in their beard – than when they dominated the comedy-rock scene of the early 2000s, but there was no less bravado in their step as they performed classic hits from “The Pick of Destiny”.
Whether it was a mock on-stage break-up between the two that led into a perfectly set up rendition of “Dude”, or a medley of Jack Black solo interpretations of genres and music (including Pink Floyd’s The Wall), the duo was in peak form. On the spur of the moment – between exaltations of Dio and refrains of heavy metal’s indomitable spirit – Black announced an upcoming sequel to the aforementioned “Pick of Destiny”, which we at first took for a crowd-hyping farce but which, since having returned home from the festival, was a veritable announcement for an as-yet-dated release.
Here’s to hoping for another high-flying, face-melting, power-sliding heavy metal tour-de-force – and many more years of performance for KG and Jables.
If Tenacious D was the comedic relief for the cinema of today’s bill, then The National was a welcome return to the serious drama for the final act of a beautiful, musical film.
The alternative, post-punk outfit delivered their signature defiant, moody baritone vocals, backlit by an array of gorgeous lighting and projections. Playing tunes from across their nearly two-decade span, the band gave the crowd everything they wanted – from the ponderous melancholy of “The Day I Die” to the desperate optimism of “I Need My Girl” and upbeat drum-heavy newcomer “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”.
Well, folks, it looks like it’s that time again. Time to return home, to regular lives and regular work, with only the saccharine dreams of fried foods and beautiful tunes to guide us on. Until, that is, we find ourselves drawn along by the invisible hand towards our next inevitable outing, where we hope, as always, to touch a glimpse of the divine.
Until next time, people of Austere – stay in the loop with what Shaky Knees is cooking up for 2019 here, and be on the lookout for our next festival foray.