SHAKY KNEES MUSIC & ARTS FESTIVAL: Day 1 Recap

What a weekend in Atlanta for this year’s Shaky Knees Music & Arts Festival!  I don’t know about you, but if your knees and feet aren’t shaking by Saturday evening, you aren’t doing it right.  This year’s festival was held in Atlanta’s Central Park (formerly known as Bedford Pine Park prior to 1999) in the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.  Little known fact- this park was created after the Great Atlanta fire of 1917, and after some of this weekend’s artists’ performances they could’ve started another raging fire, or four, in the park.   I also want to say that the weather was superb… not a drop of rain all weekend and the sun was mercilessly shining bright upon all those who attended.

Despite the heat, the attendees were constantly smiling all weekend and giving out ‘High-fives’ to random people bringing the overall mood to a Roo-like feeling.  With this being said, I will say that this was one of the most successful Shaky Knees Music & Arts Festival’s to date.  The first day of the festival, I caught 11 acts perform and conducted two interviews (one with three members of the band Haerts and one with Dan Maines, the bassist for the band Clutch) before tiring out around 9 pm., i.e. the Shaky Knees syndrome.  Look for separate articles detailing the sit down with both Haerts and Dan Maines forthcoming.

I arrived at the park to check-in right around 1 pm and was able to catch some of Black Pistol Fire at the Ponce De Leon Stage before heading over to check out the band Haerts perform on the Piedmont Stage.  I had a 2:55 PM interview set with Haerts in our media tent, so I was excited to catch them play beforehand.  They played a really energetic set to a nice sized crowd that gathered early as the festival was just picking up steam for the day.  The sun was blazing down on everyone (more so at the Piedmont Stage as it was positioned just right to get all the sun’s rays) but no matter, the crowd was enthusiastic and excited to be sharing this moment with Haerts.  One of Friday’s top and most spirited performances belongs to this band in my opinion.  If you enjoy indie pop then check out Haerts today.  So don’t forget to check back here at concerthopper.com soon to read my interview with them!

Before getting to the first interview of the day, I was able to watch Jukebox the Ghost and Two Gallants perform at their respected stages.  I was impressed with the stage presence of Jukebox the Ghost as they went through an impressive set list of their songs.  Of course, Two Gallants put on one of the best shows of the day.  A personal favorite of mine for some time now, I was thrilled when I realized I would be able to catch a majority of their set prior to my first interview.  If you have never listened to the band Two Gallants, I believe you are doing yourself a musical injustice!

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Two Gallants

 

After taking a break with the band Haerts, I was able to catch the last half of Wavves before making the journey to the Piedmont Stage for Clutch’s afternoon performance.  Another band I was impressed with seeing live- the band Wavves.  A spirited band that really showed a genuine excitement to be playing in front of the crowd that gathered.  The band Clutch started off at 4:15 PM to a smaller crowd than expected as they played opposite of Mac Demarco and Zella Day.  Obviously, different genres of music between these three, but still a hard choice as all three acts are amazing live.  Knowing I would see Mac Demarco play Bonnaroo in a few weeks, I made the call to see the band I have seen over a dozen times since 2000 and my next interview.  Be sure to also check out www.concerthopper.com for my sit down with Clutch’s bassist, Dan Maines on the new album, Psychic Warfare, and the bands’ future plans.

About halfway through Day 1 of the Shaky Knees Music and Arts Festival, I had already seen 7 performances and conducted 2 interviews… and I was just getting started!  After Clutch, I watched a bit of Manchester Orchestra before having to split the time between both Death From Above 1979 (DFA 1979) and TV on the Radio.  Although both bands put on a really great show, what stuck out to me was the performance from DFA 1979.  Having not played or rehearsed in two months, Sebastien Grainger (vocals/drums) admitted to making errors in their performance and apologized.  But to be honest, mistakes or not- they basically dominated their time slot.  Such a great show regardless of mistakes.

Up next would be the hometown band Mastodon playing the main stage (Peachtree Stage) before the day’s headliner, The Strokes.  Troy Sanders would give many thanks for the band being invited to play the Shaky Knees Music and Arts Festival; “We never thought we would be invited to play this festival.  Never!” With that being said, the band proceeded to put on one of the best shows of the day.  It was a first time for me to see Mastodon in a) daylight and b) at a festival, so I was curious as to what songs they would play and how it would be watching them in the daylight.  They played a good mixture of songs from the majority of their discography while ending the evening with an appearance from Clutch’s front man, Neil Fallon, for an intense rendition of “Blood and Thunder” from their album Leviathan.  A song that they recorded some ten years ago when the band was just starting out.

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Mastodon

 

The crowd went ballistic as Neil came out within the first few notes of the track.  This was not the first time that this had happened as both bands are currently on a tour together, The Missing Link Tour, in which the night’s finale has been this track.  I was worried that maybe they would not be able to do it at the festival, but I was pleasantly surprised to have this come to fruition.  As many of you may know, I have been a fan of Mastodon for many years and each time I leave with a giant smile on my face.

I was able to catch the last half set of Pixies, after the interview with Dan Maines, and cross this band from my youth off of my ‘bucket-list’.  Soooooo good!  I mean for Pixies to have been a mainstay in the initial progression of alternative rock in the early 90’s and to still have not only relevance in the scene but to actually perform each night with the same love that they had since the beginning… that is special right there.  Something a lot of older bands cannot say for themselves.  I was hoping to hear the song, “Debaser” but did not and after asking some people around me…it was not played.  Guess Mr. Black must be saving that song for the next time I see them live.  {Hint Hint Francis!}

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Pixies

 

After watching Pixies end their performance, my total for the day was eleven bands and two interviews, so needless to say I made an executive decision to forego The Strokes.  Yep, you read correct.  After trekking back and forth all day for some 8 ½ hours in the sun I thought about the next two days and how much more walking I had to do.  So leaving before the massive crowd to have my ride scoop me up did not seem like a bad decision in the long run.  Sometimes at a festival you have casualties of war, so to speak, and this time it was The Strokes.  Sorry Julian, hopefully next time!

But then I had to rest up to attend an 11:30 PM show at The Earl, in the area known as East Atlanta Village, of the band that was opening for both Mastodon and Clutch on their current tour- Graveyard.  If you like blues rock mixed with a little psychedelic edge, then check out this Swedish band, which formed back in 2006.  This was one of the few shows not sold out during the Shaky Knees Late Night Shows; as James Blake, The Dead Milkmen, RIDE, and Portugal. The Man were all sold out.  Well with Day 1 a rounding success and in the books, it was time to rest up for Day 2.

(To be continued…)

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