Shaky Knees Music Festival has grown and taken on many forms throughout it’s 5 years, from it’s start at the Masquerade Music Park in Old Fourth Ward, to Atlantic Station, to Central Park, and this year’s, second year in a row location at Centennial Olympic Park.
This year Shaky Knees has 3 stages, all nicely nestled within the main park, giving you plenty of opportunity to catch most of the acts you really want to see, but also to bounce around and discover someone new. Throughout this week as I’ve told people I’ll be at Shaky Knees this weekend, the first response I usually get is: “Who’s playing? I feel old because I don’t know any of the artists playing that festival anymore.” My quick response is “You know The Pixies right? LCD Soundsystem? Phoenix? The xx? Ok, I know you know Ryan Adams (not Bryan)?” No? Ok, how about we put together a nice little list for you to help you out?
Sure we know all the headliners are going to put on amazing shows, but Shaky Knees is an indie music festival, which means it’s as much about the bottom and middle lineups as it is the headliners. We’ve put together a list of 11 Under the Radar Acts that we believe you should make an effort to catch at this year’s fest. While some of these names are plenty hot and buzzed about in the indie world for folks that keep up like us, for others if you haven’t checked into these acts, get out to Shaky Knees early because these are some of the best of what’s next! – Mike Gerry
Temples (Peachtree Stage)
Friday, May 12th 2:15-3PM
This English four-piece began bringing their psychedelic rock to the masses in 2012, led by singer and guitarist James Bagshaw and bassist Tom Walmsley. Temples‘ debut album, Sun Structures, was released in 2014 and found rapid success — making it on The Top 10 charts in the U.K. They sold out shows in their North American headline tour and played festivals like Glastonbury, Coachella, and Lollapalooza, eventually releasing their sophomore album Volcano in March of this year.
If you haven’t had a chance to see Temples live, Shaky Knees will be the place to do so. Their live sets really show-off the band’s harmonious sounds and twisted melodies. Layers of bass and reflective lyrics echo throughout the crowd; creating its own space for psychedelic grooves to dance to. One might even think it’s the sure sounds of a band gaining momentum and securing their spot in success. – Avery Newmark
Rainbow Kitten Surprise (Piedmont Stage)
Friday, May 12th 2:45-3:30PM
Rainbow Kitten Surprise is a five-piece alt-rock band out of Boone, North Carolina. The band has released two full length albums since forming in 2013, including their last, 2015’s RKS. Rainbow Kitten Surprise writes unnerving folk tunes that they transform into high energy rockers that translate well into what they’ve become known for, their wild, energetic sold out live shows. Frontman Sam Melo bounces around the stage, into and out of the crowd, leaving every ounce of energy he has, dancing around stages. The band is currently working on their follow up to RKS, which they hope to be out before the end of 2017. Shaky Knees should serve as a great time to try out some new material for Rainbow Kitten Surprise. It’s not just the band that gets wild at a RKS show, they know how to pull the crowd right there in with them. If you are looking to let loose and dance right in the middle of a bunch of other folks dancing right along with you, then this is your set to catch. – Mike Gerry
Car Seat Headrest (Peachtree Stage)
Friday, May 12th 3:30-4:30PM
Car Seat Headrest’s latest album, Teens of Denial, released this time last year, was the Leesburg, VA native Will Toledo’s 12th album released since 2010, his second album on Matador Records; the first of which (Teens of Style 2015) was a reworking of songs from Car Seat Headrest‘s prior albums that were released via his Bandcamp. With Teens of Denial being his first album of new music released via a label, the 24 year old Toledo has already made a mark, and the latest album landed universally on critical year end lists. I personally saw CSHR at Terminal West last year, and I’d put the show towards the top as one of my favorites of the year. Will Toledo and the band not only rock, but his relatable and introspective lyrics make for plenty of moments to lose yourself within the music, whether 8+ minute journeys like “Cosmic Hero” or “The Ballad of the Costa Concordia”, or sing alongs on “Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales.” This is the music of the teenage angst of an early 20 something that has a realistic view on his place in this world. There’s no doubt Car Seat Headrest is a can’t miss set at Shaky Knees. – Mike Gerry
Pinegrove (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Friday, May 12th 4:15-5PM
Montclair, New Jersey’s Pinegrove are a rock ‘n’ roll band that mix rock, pop, and country into a sound that has helped the band become one of the hottest young indie bands around. Pinegrove began in January 2010 with the release of their first EP titled Mixtape One. In February 2012, they released their debut full-length album titled Meridian, and their second and third EPs in 2013 and 2014. In October 2015, the band was picked up by Run For Cover Records who quickly reissued Pinegrove’s compilation cassette. February of last year, the band released their critically acclaimed sophomore album Cardinal, and things have really begun to take off for the band. With their interesting mix of somewhat rock ‘n’ roll, somewhat emo, somewhat grunge and somewhat Americana, the band’s evocative lyrics have been leaving an impact on their audiences wherever they go and they stick out as one of the more interesting acts at Shaky Knees. – Mike Gerry
Twin Peaks (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Friday, May 12th 5:45-6:30PM
In the years since dropping out of college to support their debut album Sunken, Chicago based Twin Peaks has covered a lot of ground. They were anointed “Best New Band” by NME, and have performed to audiences in the states and Europe, including Lollapalooza, Reading & Leeds, and now Shaky Knees. While Twin Peaks may be a little older now, (their third album Down In Heaven was released last May, and they just released a 20 song live album – Urbs In Horto) their restlessness endures. Down In Heaven encompasses elements they’ve only flashed to us before, now honing in on their distinct sound. A combination of ‘60s garage rock, a little country and a lot of punk rock rowdiness — Twin Peaks is something to get excited about, and they will once again leave no doubt at Shaky Knees with one of the best sets of the weekend. – Avery Newmark
Family and Friends (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Saturday, May 13th 8:45-9:30PM
Ah finally a local band that we can all get behind! Family and Friends are a seven piece folk rock collective family out of Athens, GA, with some members now living in Atlanta. So we are going to claim them, as we should! But this isn’t a case of just another local band, Family and Friends have released two EPs since 2014, including the most recent 2015’s XOXO. Recently the band has been out in LA working on their debut full length album. Since first forming, the band has built up plenty of momentum towards this moment on the Shaky Knees stage, and most of that is primarily through their live performances. This is a family, these are friends, and they show all the love on stage. If you love folk rock; big, dueling drums bouncing around stage, multiple piece harmonies, and loads and loads of energy, then this is absolutely the set for you! After seeing Family and Friends set on the Ponce stage, not only will you want to hug the band, you’ll want to hug the stranger next to you. – Mike Gerry
Hoops (Piedmont Stage)
Sunday, May 14th 12:30-1:15PM
Hoops started in Indiana as a lo-fi ambiguous project by frontman Drew Auscherman and is now one of the best bands in dream-pop. After corralling some of his friends together, Hoops became a full quartet band in 2014 — more extroverted and melodic from the bedroom project it once was.
Their debut album Routines was released this year, filled with airy uptempo guitars and crooning vocals. Its soft approach carries ‘80s vibes throughout, playing drums wholeheartedly pure and blissful. During a live show, the bandmates can be seen frequently swapping instruments and positions on stage. Simply adaptable and committed, proof that solid chemistry amongst friends is enough to rise above. – Avery Newmark
Whitney (Piedmont Stage)
Sunday, May 14th 1:45-2:30PM
The duo Whitney (composed of former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich ) are simply and profoundly rock ‘n’ roll. The two joined forces after separating from previous bands and have since made music that is buoyant in not so happy territory — joining the new wave of sensitive male musicians. Whitneys’ songs flare with trumpets and lyrical despair, almost as if carving their special place in the world. They haven’t played many festivals, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t deserving — Shaky Knees sure know’s they belong! – Avery Newmark
Great Peacock (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Sunday, May 14th 1:45-2:30PM
I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it, Nashville’s Great Peacock always puts on a great performance, and that’s not just me saying that from one or two shows, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the boys play live. There’s plenty of reason why Great Peacock has been able to keep their performances so compelling. The harmony driven, guitar heavy folk rockers provide songs of the south, and even if you aren’t a true southerner, Great Peacock will make you feel like you were born and raised here just like them. The band writes pop songs that sing directly to the soul, whether they test their more country side, or hit more towards a full blown rock ‘n’ roll outfit. And live, that’s exactly what they are. Sure you’ll be able to sing on and enjoy the band in the early afternoon sun, but this is not a band that lacks energy, there will be plenty of hair swinging and guitar solos to reel you right in. Great Peacock released their excellent debut album Making Ghosts in 2015, and hopefully at Shaky Knees we will get to hear some more of what they’ve been working on since! – Mike Gerry
Ron Gallo (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Sunday, May 14th 6:15-7PM
You may not know about Ron Gallo yet, seeing as he just released his debut album Heavy Meta in February via New West Records, but by the end of his set on the Criminal Records Ponce de Leon Stage, you are sure to remember who Ron and his band are. The Nashville-based, via Philadelphia (do they breed rock ‘n’ roll in Philly these days?) songwriter is the former frontman of Philly’s Toy Soldiers. Toy Soldiers were known more in the realm of Americana, but on this project, Ron Gallo takes the rock ‘n’ roll up 11 notches with a fuzzed out, grunge influenced psychedelia. Since Toy Soldiers called it quits in 2014, Ron Gallo has quickly become known for the three piece band’s vigorous, uninhibited live shows. But getting beyond just the rock ‘n’ roll, Ron Gallo has always been first and foremost a songwriter, and on Heavy Meta Gallo really shows off his songwriting skills with an album that’s plenty snarky, and explores his ideology and frustration with humanity today. Ron’s got a lot to say, and his delivery is on point, making this a show you should absolutely be paying attention to at Shaky Knees. – Mike Gerry
POND (Ponce de Leon Stage)
Sunday, May 14th 7:45-8:30PM
POND not only shares the coolness of being from Perth with Tame Impala, but they also share members — the original idea being to kind of float in and out collaborating whenever they can. POND is a psychedelic rock band too, but with a more mischievous bent, a little more chaotic. Their latest album The Weather, released this month, is filled with heavy synths and dance rhythms, while also being produced by the one and only Kevin Parker.
POND’s fresh psych-rock soundscapes evoke surreal experiences that can take you out of this world. If you want to hear their new songs come to life in an unforgettable raucous show, be sure to catch their set at this years Shaky Knees. – Avery Newmark
We will see you at the park this weekend!
Check out our photo gallery from Shaky Knees 2016, Day 3: