Saturday, May 21, 2016

Shaky Knees Retrospective, Day 3 Part One

On paper, Sunday, Day Three of Shaky Knees, looked like the best day of the festival (Sunday > Friday > Saturday), and in practice it worked out that way too.  The weather was still sunny but unseasonably cool, and what's not to love about a day that starts off with a set by

Julien Baker (Ponce de Leon Stage)

Like she did earlier this year at Aisle 5, she wore her "Sad Songs Make Me Feel Better" t-shirt, and with the relatively small audience for her opening-hour set, she managed to convey the same sense of wounded intimacy on the big Ponce stage as she did at the smaller club. In fact, the set seemed all the more special as only a few of us were there, those in the know about how great her songwriting and performing are, sharing a deep emotional secret with each other and with Baker as she sang.

One of the planned highlights of Day Three was the opportunity to catch both the bands Ought and Parquet Courts on the same day, so after Julien Baker, we headed over to the Peachtree Stage and our adopted home of the VIP pavilion for the set by

Ought (Peachtree Stage)

Montreal's Ought formed in 2011, drawing on their city's underground political scene, loft parties, and D.I.Y. culture. Fronted by singer/guitarist Tim Beeler, the band melded unlikely influences from both high-energy mid-'90s emo bands and airy, early college rock acts like the Feelies and Talking Heads. 

It was our first time catching Ought, and they more than lived up to our very high expectations.  The set was witty, urgent, literate, and post-ironic all at the same time.

It was around this time that the festival organizers fed the VIP crowd (two meals a day catered by Fox Bros. BBQ), so we stayed around the VIP pavilion and ate while waited for the next set, which was performed by Scotland's

Frightened Rabbit (Peachtree)

Okay, we'll admit it, the only song we know by Frightened Rabbit is 2009's Swim Until You Can't See Land, which they didn't even perform, so we were kind of out of it.  Most of their songs sounded very much like the kind of songs that the band that wrote Swim would write, but we were still struggling to find a point of access, other than Scott Hutchison's brogue during his frequent and hilarious stage banter.  

Our other problem was that the whole point of the first half of the day was to catch both Ought and Parquet Courts on the same day, and as the latter was on immediately after the former, and over on the other side of the Shaky Bridge of Death, we were looking at our watches (actually, phones) throughout Frightened Rabbit's set and then left early in order to go catch

Parquet Courts (Boulevard Stage) 

Parquet Courts, the band, were dwarfed by the giant Boulevard Stage, but cheekily advertised who they were one cheesy, ultra-low-budget sign behind them.   

Parquet Courts play noisy indie rock with jagged punk edges borrowed from late-'90s guitar-heavy alternative acts. The band began in 2010 when the former Texans relocated to Brooklyn and began practicing and gigging regularly.  Centered around Fergus & Geronimo songwriter Andrew Savage, the band also includes guitarist Austin Brown, who shares vocal duties.  

The band is hugely prolific and have churned out at least three full LPs in the past few years, as well as a handful of EPs and some other recordings under the name "Parkay Quarts."  The problem is that even those of us who try to keep up with the band are disappointed to not hear our favorite at least relatively recent songs.  No Stoned and Starving from 2012's Light Up Gold, and while the set definitely kicked some serious ass, even those of us who've heard this year's Human Performance were often at a loss after Berlin Got Blurry.  Hey, we're not complaining (well, maybe we are a little), it was a great set, but a band with as many songs and recordings as Parquet Courts deserves a longer set than the 60 minutes allocated by the festival.

But again, it was worth it, and the thrill of hearing them and Ought on the same day, even if separated by free VIP barbeque and a Frightened Rabbit set, was pretty satisfying.

We were now half-way through the third and final day of Shaky Knees and heading for the home stretch.  We'll wrap up this retrospective tomorrow. Here's your parting shot.

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