While most of the festival goers anticipated the promise of Phoenix and Ryan Adams, much of day three’s value was found in the smaller acts. The lineup was absolutely stacked on Sunday’s last day of Shaky Knees 2017 and kicked off with Con Brio, setting the standards high. Shaky Knees closed down their final day with a stronger reminder why Atlanta’s indie rock fest has become one of the absolute best music festivals in the nation.
Here are eight memorable acts we saw while making the rounds throughout Shaky Knees second day, plus a full photo gallery below. Other compelling acts included Hoops, Great Peacock, Cloud Nothings, and Arkells.
Chicago indie-rock band Whitney played to a sunny afternoon audience on the Piedmont stage — their vibe was relaxed and chill. Julien Ehrlich and his drums took front and center of the stage, providing not only killer drum beats, but also the key ingredient to Whitney: a refreshing falsetto. They changed their setlist midway, informing the crowd that the song they wanted to play would sound better later on, not wanting to compete with thunderous Cloud Nothings across the way. Their trumpets roared on with a pretty piano and organ synths, unleashing a new track they called, “Rolling Blackouts” towards the end.
Saint Motel’s stage design mimicked their vintage classic sound, complete with old television sets and outfits clean and cool. Lead singer A/J Jackson croons into “Cold Cold Man,” pausing midway to ask the crowd to sing, dance, and move along with them throughout their whole set. “Feed Me Now” was a jammy funk, complete with horns and trumpets galore. They ended with loveable “My Type,” however, many fans noticed they didn’t play their radio hit “Move.” For whatever reason, that doesn’t matter — their heavy guitar and amp from Jackson created one of the most fun, danceable acts of Shaky Knees.
Hamilton Leithauser sounds at times like a beatnik, graveling plain-spoken verse in the ways Bob Dylan does so well. His set had very little bass; easy listening proves to be more his style. He went grittier in “1,000 Times,” laying down the soulful keys for the rest of his set.
The dream pop sequence “Heads Up,” off Warpaint’s album Heads Up (released this past September), started off this L.A. bands set. It was a soft open, but only the beginning. They took the snare drums up a notch during “Krimson” and got extra synthy during “So Good.” A favorite for many was when they got heavy with “Bees” (off 2010’s album The Fool) at the end. Their set was one that felt like an enchanted spell — breathy vocals and witchy-vibes had the crowd tuned in for the entirety.
Day 3 was a tough one for Shaky Knees goers to attend — it was Mother’s Day. But for those who were in attendance, hopefully you had a chance to catch Ron Gallo’s set at the Ponce de Leon stage. It was unlike any other’s encountered; a modern day Jim Morrison, poetic and daring, front and center. It began with Gallo demanding that everyone pull out their “stupid phones” and call their mom — as he then proceeded to do. After a Facetime with mom and jokingly thanking Third Eye Blind for opening for them, the band shredded into “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me.” A few songs later he proclaimed “this new song” is for the ladies, titled “Entitled Man, Keep Your Hands Down Your Pants.” Taking the energy down just a notch (but not really) they played a cover of the hit ‘90s song “You Gotta Be.” It’s clear that Gallo’s a livewire performer — one minute an electrifying rock ‘n’ roller and the next shaman-like tossing bottled water into the audience
As dusk set in on the weekend’s final shows, one of the most elegant singer-songwriters in the music business took to the Piedmont Stage to perform a mix of recognizable hits, fan favorites and deeper cuts. Not to be confused with Bryan Adams, Ryan Adams drew in quite the fan base for his Shaky Knees set, which started with “Do You Still Love Me?”, a reflective and fiery ballad, and continued with songs from Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, and from many of Adams’ solo albums like “New York, New York” and “Come Pick Me Up,” both of which helped close out his set.
POND’s set took place fifteen minutes into Ryan Adam’s across the way; if you took a gamble by leaving early to make that, a psychedelic treat awaited you. The Tame Impala spin-off collaboration blasted into “30,000 Megatons” (off their latest album The Weather) rowdy and ready to go. Mischievous bent, they filled the stage with synths and dance rhythms, playing hits “Waiting Around for Grace” and “Elvis’ Flaming Star” off 2015’s Man It Feels Like Space Again. Halfway through they went into a groovy rendition of another song off The Weather, “Paint Me Silver.” Audience members, some with painted faces, danced with each other and cheered along with the band’s playful antics — at one point Nick Allbrook chanting “Bible music, electric revival.”
French indie-pop Phoenix marked the end of Shaky Knees 2017; their set electrifying before it even began. The stage had enormous mirrors set up throughout and light displays you could probably see from space. Phoenix got a bit of a late start — anticipation as well as the crowd grew larger and larger. When their set finally did begin, it started with a giant heart lit-up (the heart from their Ti Amo album) and the bass drum thumping into their new record’s title track. They continued with a solid mix of songs, including “Long Distance Call”, “Trying to Be Cool”, and “Armistice.” One of the moments that defined their lavish set was during the psychedelic “Love Like a Sunset”; Mars laid down in the middle of the stage while a sky full of constellations and flashing solid colors flashed around him. Their set was hypnotic and enchanting, full of energy and surprise — they ended by crowd-surfing (past the 11 p.m. curfew) into a three-song encore, including “1901”. It was the first festival Phoenix played since unleashing Ti Amo, and it couldn’t have been a better way to celebrate the fifth edition of Shaky Knees.
Check out our photo gallery from Shaky Knees 2017 Day 2, photos by Mike Gerry, Lauren Arum, & Katrina Merto: