Sunday, May 8, 2016

This Week's Shows (Shaky Knees Edition)

So this is it - Shaky Knees week, time for the fourth edition of Atlanta's annual indie and alt-rock festival.  There's only a handful of other shows this week as most clubs and venues aren't even trying to compete, and others are hosting official Shaky Knees Late-Night Shows.  We've listed a few of those other shows that are happening this week, but most of this post consists of our picks for Shaky Knees - it's not meant to be a comprehensive guide but just one fan's strategy to get through the five stages and three days of music.  Your preferences, we're sure, will differ.

As always, please keep in mind that musicians and night-club proprietors lead complicated lives and I'm prone to errors, mistakes, typos, and fubars; it's advisable to confirm any of the information below on your own before making plans.


Dead Meadow, Reverends, Midnight Larks (The Earl)
Dead Meadow are critically praised hard rockers who blend Black Sabbath riffs and dreamy layers of guitar-fuzz bliss with singer Jason Simon's high-pitched melodic croon.


Uncle Van & The Buzzards of Fuzz, Blue Tower, Bleach Garden, '94 Broncos (529)
Atlanta's Uncle Van and the Buzzards of Fuzz refuse to let rock and roll die with their fuzzed-out psychedelic tunes and gritty, lo-fi aesthetic.


Born Ruffians, On An On (Aisle 5)
Born Ruffians are a clever and tuneful Canadian indie rock band fuses hooky guitar jangle with moody, folk-influenced melodies.  Minneapolis' On An On consists of former Scattered Trees members Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing.

Born Ruffians at The Earl, April 24, 2013

On An On at The Drunken Unicorn, April 10, 2013
Collective Soul (Music Room at Smith's Olde Bar)
First of two sold-out nights where Georgia-based post-grunge band Collective Soul, who rode strong hooks to the charts in the '90s and beyond, will be filming a live documentary.


Maya, Kudzu Kids, Pallow (The Earl)
Maya are three "psychedelic punk musicians from Atlanta, GA with some sonic finesse for your entertainment."

Dromez, Filth, Ironing, Dux (Mammal Gallery)
Four industrial/noise bands for your mid-week entertainment.

Collective Soul (Music Room at Smith's Olde Bar)
Second of two sold-out nights where Collective Soul will be filming a live documentary.


Beach Slang (12:30-1:00, Shaky Knees)
Beach Slang are a punky indie rock trio from Philadelphia heavily influenced by the Replacements. Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can still catch them at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at The Earl on Friday night.

Saintseneca (1:00-1:45, Shaky Knees)
Ever-evolving group from Ohio that began as a folk band, but evolved to become a mercurial folk-rock ensemble,  melding folk music from Appalachian and international traditions to postmodern pop and acoustically driven indie rock.

Kaleo (1:45-2:30, Shaky Knees)
Kaleo are an indie folk-rock quartet from Mosfellsbær, Iceland. we've never heard them before, but their video on the Shaky Knees web site sounds promising.

The Front Bottoms (2:30-3:15, Shaky Knees)
This eclectic indie rock duo from New Jersey blend punk, pop, and rock with witty, surreal lyrics, and are probably worth the long walk to the far-distant Boulevard Stage.  Or we could always break for lunch. 

Wolf Alice (3:15-4:15, Shaky Knees)
Led by vocalist Ellie Rowsell, this North London act mixes folk and electronic elements with vintage '90s indie rock.

Crystal Fighters (4:15-5:15, Shaky Knees)
Spain's Crystal Fighters, a folktronic band that combines Basque folk instruments with drum loops, heavy synth, and lilting vocals, were formed after singer Laure recovered a diary of her deceased reclusive grandfather while visiting his Basque country home. Inside his notebook was the skeleton of an incomplete opera, whose name the band took as its title.  Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can catch still Crystal Fighters at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Vinyl on Friday night.

Against Me! (5:15-6:15, Shaky Knees)
A onetime solo acoustic act that evolved into a full-fledged old-school punk band by 2007.  More changes followed a May 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, when lead singer Tom Gabel announced his gender dysphoria, plans to transition to living as a woman, and assumption of the name Laura Jane Grace. Against Me! release their album Transgender Dysphoria Blues in 2012.  On the other hand, nothing against the transgender issue (good for her!), but I've never been a big fan of their music, so this might be a good time to get some refreshments and find a good vantage spot for Savage's set.

Savages (6:15-7:15, Shaky Knees)
OMG, Savages.  The British all-female post-punk quartet plays its own brand of noisy, blistering music.  A festival highlight, in my opinion.

Bloc Party (7:15-8:15, Shaky Knees)
A chance to finally see one of my favorite bands of 2005, an ambitious and eclectic art punk quartet based in London that mixes angular, percussive tracks with edgy pop and atmospheric ballads.  One more to check off the bucket list.

The Kills (8:15-9:30, Shaky Knees)
The Anglo-American duo of Alison Mosshart, formerly of the Florida punk band Discount, and drummer/guitarist/vocalist Jamie Hince, plays fiery garage rock with blues grit, new wave cool, and loads of feedback.

The Kills at Crystal Ballroom, MFNW (RIP), 2011
Jane's Addiction (9:30-11:00, Shaky Knees)
Innovative rockers led by Perry Farrell, who united hard rock and alternative in the late '80s with their critically acclaimed work and who pretty much invented the DIY festival with their Lollapalooza shows.


Speedy Ortiz, Charlie Hilton (529)
In the best non-Shaky Knees show of the weekend, the Massachusetts quartet Speedy Ortiz combine creative songwriting, quirky time signatures, and all the brash artiness of '90s indie rock, led by singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis.  Opener Charlie Hilton was the frontman of the band Blouse.  If you don't have tickets to Shaky Knees and for some reason don't want to go to one of the official Late Night Shows, then by all means go to 529 to see Speedy Ortiz up close and personal in the intimate confines of 529.

Speedy Ortiz at Shaky Knees, 2015
Son Little (12:50-1:15, Shaky Knees)
If we don't wind up oversleeping and getting to the festival late on Saturday, we can catch Aaron Livingston, the potent and deeply personal soul/R&B collaborator with Roots and Rjd2.

Strand of Oaks (1:15-2:00, Shaky Knees)
Strand of Oaks is an Indiana-based band that specializes in bold and anthemic indie-Americana that draws from classic rock and folk.  We missed them last year when they played The Earl, so this is a good chance to make up for what we missed.

Drew Holcombe & The Neighbors (2:00-2:45, Shaky Knees)
Drew Holcomb is an earnest songwriter. That’s his strength, and his somewhat melancholy tenor voice -- which can get husky and smoky when he needs it to -- makes everything seem intimate and urgent. Holcomb and his band, the Neighbors, work a sort of folky pop-country territory, sounding at times like a muted, less vital Nashville version of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and like Petty, Holcomb's lyrics only occasionally match his attitude.

JJ Grey & Mofro (2:45-3:45, Shaky Knees)
Florida band that mixes funk, soul, rock, and blues for a rootsy, swampy sound with a reputation as an exciting live act.

Shakey Graves (3:45-4:45, Shaky Knees)
Shaky Graves is the stage name of Austin-based "hobo folk" singer, songwriter, musician, and actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia.

Deer Tick (4:45-5:45, Shaky Knees)
Veterans of Shaky Knees 2014, Deer Tick are indie roots rockers from Rhode Island, led by the intimate songwriting and ragged but tender vocals of John McCauley.

Deer Tick at Shaky Knees, 2014
Phosphorescent (5:45-6-45, Shaky Knees)
The brainchild of Athens-based singer-songwriter Mathew Houck, Phosphorescent have released a string of critically acclaimed, country-tinged rock albums.  Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can still catch Phosphorescent at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Terminal West on Friday night.

Phosphorescent at Center Stage, January 25, 2014
Silversun Pickups (7:15-8:15, Shaky Knees)
These L.A. alternative rockers have been weaving layered guitars and effects around surging, melodic tunes for years now, but they still get our fists up and pumping every time we hear the violent part of Lazy Eye.  Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can still catch the Silversuns at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Center Stage on Friday night.  However, this might also be a good time to take advantage of all the Dads over at the Peachtree Stage watching Huey Lewis and the News, and sneak over to the Ponce Stage to get a good spot for The Decemberists. 

Silversun Pickups at MFNW (RIP) 2012 
The Decemberists (7:45-9:00, Shaky Knees)
There's a time overlap between The Silversun's set and this, so some hard choices have to be made, but we're intent on catching this sophisticated yet folk-tinged indie pop band from Portland with a hyperliterate edge provided by vocalist Colin Meloy. These American treasures show what the presence of something like Powell's Book Store can do to a city's music scene.

The Decemberists at Variety Playhouse, April 11, 2015
My Morning Jacket (9:00-11:00, Shaky Knees)
My Morning Jacket are a revered Kentucky combo that stands halfway between indie rock and alt-country, combining twangy, rural sounds with a thick rock onslaught, and a jam-band approach to live sets.  The opportunity to catch back-to-back sets by The Decemberists and MMJ is one of the main reasons to attend this year's Shaky Knees.

My Morning Jacket at McMenamins Edgefield, October 2012

Julien Baker (12:00-12:45, Shaky Knees)
A cruel lineup choice:  the festival planners are forcing us to choose between Brooklyn's Caveman and Memphis' Julien Baker for the Sunday opener, not even letting us consider sleeping in on the morning.  I'm not sure how Baker's sensitive and emotional ballads, which span a shaky middle ground between heart-wrenching and cathartic, will hold up in a festival setting, but that's part of the reason for picking her set over Caveman's.

Julien Baker at Aisle 5, January 29, 2016
Ought (12:45-1:30, Shaky Knees)
This Montreal-based, hyperliterate, occasionally Fall-esque indie quartet merges the frenetic energy of dance party pop with the politics and urgency of the D.I.Y. scene, and is fast becoming one of our favorites, so we're looking forward to catching this early Shaky Knees set.

Murder By Death (1:30-2:15, Shaky Knees)
Shadowy and narrative indie rock band blending plaintive Americana and rootsy folk influences, Murder By Death feature a female cellist, so you have to love that.  Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can still catch the band at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Vinyl on Saturday night.

Murder By Death at MFNW (RIP) 2013
Frightened Rabbit (2:15-3:15, Shaky Knees)
Scottish indie rockers marked by sparse arrangements and the plaintive singing of Scott Hutchinson. Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can catch Frightened Rabbit (with Caveman!) at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Terminal West Saturday night.

Parquet Courts  (3:15-4:15, Shaky Knees)
Another cruel lineup choice, with Parquet Courts on at the same time as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Even though it's been sounding like UMO is playing at the top of their form lately, I can't resist the idea of a day with sets by both Ought and Parquet Courts. Spinning off from Fergus & Geronimo, Brooklyn-based Texas expats Parquet Courts makes a jaggedly noisy sound they dub "Americana punk." Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets can still catch Parquet Courts at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at The Earl on Saturday night.

Parquet Courts at The Earl, January 29, 2015
St. Paul & The Broken Bones (4:15-5:15, Shaky Knees)
St. Paul & The Broken Bones are a tight sextet with a gospel-tinged neo-soul garage sound complete with horns and a dynamic lead singer who can sound just like Otis Redding when he wants to.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones at Egyptian Ballroom, December 27, 2014
The Black  Angels (5:15-6:15, Shaky Knees)
Shoe-gazer swirliness and old-fashioned psychedelia meet in Texas-based Black Angels' music.  We haven't seen these guys live in over 5 years now.

Black Angels at The Earl, November 14, 2010 
The Head & The Heart (6:15-7:15, Shaky Knees)
The Head & The Heart are a Seattle-based group whose music splits the difference between acoustic folk, Americana, and pop. After the pretentiousness of their show at The Buckhead Theater, we vowed we had gone to our last THATH show, but what else am we going to do at this hour, go watch The Deftones?

The Head & The Heart at Buckhead Theater, November 12, 2013
Explosions In The Sky (7:15-8:30, Shaky Knees)
Explosions In The Sky are a popular Austin-based instrumental post-rock quartet known for moody, cinematic compositions drawing from a number of sonic sources. Those of you without Shaky Knees tickets might still be able to catch EITS at a Shaky Knees Late Night Show at Variety Playhouse on Saturday night, provided you already have tickets to the sold-out show.

Explosions In The Sky at The Tabernacle, September 29, 2011
Florence + The Machine (8:30-10:00, Shaky Knees)
Hailing from South London, Florence Welch writes songs that occupy the same confessional territory as gossip-loving, genre-bending contemporaries like Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, Adele, and Lily Allen and the moody, classic art rock of Kate Bush, blending pop, soul, and Baroque arrangements into a sound that has earned the young artist considerable buzz.

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