Shaky Knees Death Match: Interpol vs. Neutral Milk Hotel vs. The Bronx


Shaky Knees Festival is less than a week away, now it’s time to start planning out your own personal schedule. 

For those difficult decisions, we present to you the Shaky Knees Death Match. We will have each band in every time slot pitted against each other. You make the decision on who you must catch. Check back daily as we explore each time slot.

Shaky Knees Saturday Day 2, 5:45PM time slot has 3 great bands that have all built huge following throughout the years in Interpol at the Piedmont Stage, Neutral Milk Hotel at the Ponce De Leon Stage and The Bronx at the Buford Highway Stage.

Interpol – Piedmont Stage


By Adam Mernit

The Shaky Knees Festival’s lineup for Saturday, May 9th is packed with a diverse group of artists that encompasses so many different musical stylings. However, none of the artists that will be featured on this day have found a way to stay as even-keeled as Interpol. With a sound that is simultaneously simplistic and intricate, Interpol is positioned in a niche of their own with respect to the general landscape of music in the twenty-first century.

We have none other than New York City and its burgeoning indie music scene of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s for setting the stage for Interpol’s unification. On Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which was also a major hub for the New York City punk and hardcore scene in the 1980’s, guitarist Daniel Kessler connected with drummer Greg Drudy in an effort to accomplish his longstanding goal of forming a band. After getting Greg Drudy on board, Kessler continued his recruiting efforts at New York University, where he would converge with bassist and keyboardist Carlos Dengler in a philosophy class. Dengler was sold instantly. The last piece to the puzzle was Paul Banks, another guitarist whom Kessler was familiar with from school as well. When Paul Banks showed up to his first practice to see that the band played cohesively, having already written and and rehearsed the song “PDA,” he was on board.

Time took its toll from Interpol as different stressors would impact the band’s development. Greg Drudy quickly left the band after three years to pursue a solo career, and Sam Fogarino would be his replacement. About a decade later, Carlos Dengler would leave Interpol, also to develop solo projects as his social pursuits had come into the spotlight and played a more prominent role in his reputation than his musical pursuits.

If categorization were absolutely necessary, Interpol would fall in line with the “post-punk” genre. Comparison has been drawn to the emergence of various indie bands that had arisen in the waning years of the punk rock movement and that had the influence of punk rock seep into their music in different ways. Various attributes of Interpol’s songs have relatively similar connotations than punk rock, such as fast snare work on drums and quick and both rhythmic non-rhythmic guitar riffs. Combined with vocals that seem to drone on yet that are perfectly fitting to convey the messages seeded into each song, the sound that comes together when Interpol performs and records is immeasurably unique, despite being likened to bands like The Smiths and Joy Division. All members are involved in the process of producing lyrics, giving each song a holistic element that draws from the minds of four different individuals.

Though the environment and other external factors throughout the band’s history have been volatile, Interpol has remained a constant in their mentality and in their dedication to their sound. From their first shows at the now-razed Luna Lounge at 171 Ludlow Street, to the 2002 release of Turn On the Bright Lights, to the spike in fame that arrived in the years after the release of Antics, there has never been a departure from what Interpol does best. Various different label and roster changes had the potential to throw Interpol off kilter, especially after the release of Our Love to Admire in 2007, but the band was able to shut out the noise and maintain their ideals.

Interpol was a part of significant development in New York City’s music scene but they had no clue how their influence was impacting the city while it was happening; they just kept playing. Growing alongside bands like TV On The Radio and The Strokes, Interpol soon found themselves as a cornerstone of consistency and intellect in this space. To pass on Interpol at Shaky Knees on Saturday would surely detract from festival experience’s overall value.

Neutral Milk Hotel – Ponce De Leon Stage

Neutral Milk Hotel

By Ben Crow

A lot can be said of Neutral Milk Hotel.  Maybe it was the band’s spread by pretty much exclusive word-of-mouth in the mid 90’s.  Maybe it was the fanatical cult following that (ostensibly) discovered their album from older siblings and relatives that were in the college scene back then; maybe it was the artificial scarcity those same fans endured for the entire decade of the 2000’s. Whatever may be said of Neutral Milk Hotel and their crowning achievement In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, let this be known: they are back for a brief moment, and they are a force to be reckoned with.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, the band’s second release yet best-known album, has essentially made the top-albums-of-all-time list by every musical periodical worth mentioning in the past 10 years.  Aeroplane’s brave concept-album style homage to Anne Frank and life in World War II has the most unbridled emotion I have ever encountered in an album.  Their music has brought me to tears on more than one occasion.  Jeff Mangum’s visceral prose and raw, accessible voice leaves no wonder why NMH’s popularity has only grown.

Since rekindling the original lineup in 2012 and announcing plans to tour starting in 2013, fans have been absolutely rabid to see the group perform their legendary songs live.  Dates sold out within minutes; their exhaustive 2013 and 2014 tour was ultimately extended into 2015, with the dire warning by the band that THIS IS IT for the foreseeable future.

If you have ever wanted to see Neutral Milk Hotel live, now is the time to do it.  If you’re new to the band, take a chance on something that will be truly amazing. From either perspective, this is the show you will tell your future children about when they discover this timeless group for themselves.

The Bronx – Buford Highway Stage

The Bronx

By Mike Gerry

This time slot with Interpol, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Bronx is packed full of great bands and could prove to be a difficult decision. But if you are a hardcore punk fan, wanting to smash your face off, then well, this should be an easy pick.

The Bronx is a hardcore punk band from LA that has been killing on stage and building a following since 2002. Besides the punk, this is a group of talented musicians that will also be rocking their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx at 1:15 on the Peachtree Stage. Known for their blistering live show, The Bronx released their fourth album (IV) in 2013 with a more hardcore sound than just straight punk.

The mosh pit will be strong at at 5:15 on the Buford Highway Stage with probably crowd surfing and one hell of a good time. Don’t sleep on The Bronx set, because anyone looking for to get wild and have a good time will no doubt love this set.

Check out these artists on the Shaky Knees Spotify Playlist


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