Shaky Knees Death Match: Mastodon vs. American Football


With the 2015 version of Shaky Knees Festival‘s official schedule being announced, 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 Friday Day 1, 7:15PM time slot has two artists that have built massive cult followings over the years in Mastodon at the Peachtree Stage and American Football at the Boulevard Stage.

Mastodon – Peachtree Stage


By Ben Crow

Opening Friday at Shaky Knees, Mastodon is the band that is absolutely not to be missed.  Hailing from right here in Atlanta, their heavy yet melodious psychedelic-metal sound will blow you away.  While some may initially be turned off by their ‘metal’ label, I find the group to be phenomenal instrumentalists and talented composers; after all, their second album (2004’s Leviathan) served as a concept-album homage to Moby Dick, winning numerous awards and being recognized as a contributor to the decade’s most important recordings by NPR.

Even in my own experience, these guys seem to appeal to such a wide range of fans and tastes.  All you have to do is look at how eclectic their fellow on-tour bands have been; from Deftones and Alice in Chains’ redux, to Cursive, Metallica, and Slayer, Mastodon is all over the place.  They even released vinyl in 2012 with mutual song coverings with Feist.  Regarding their other studio work, each album has a very distinct feel and sound; their live performance and setlist is guaranteed to be completely insane.

For some outside-the-box metal, this is your band.  Recommended pre-show albums are the band’s 2000 debut Remission, 2004’s Leviathan, and 2006’s Blood Mountain.  There is a lot to these guys beneath the surface; don’t miss the chance to see them live!

American Football – Boulevard Stage

american football

By Taylor James

American Football will be taking the Boulevard stage at 7:15 on Friday at the Shaky Knees Festival. Consider this your chance to see a band that largely shaped the indie scene of the early 2000’s.

I was late getting on the American Football train. Their debut, and only full-length, the self-titled American Football, never truly hit my radar until about a year ago, fifteen years after its initial release. Before truly seeking out American Football and diving deep into their beautiful album, I embarrassingly thought they were that band Ben Gibbard was in before Death Cab.

Despite how inaccurate my presumption was, in retrospect, it makes sense to me. For all the reasons I have loved Death Cab in the past: atmosphere, complicated and pretty melodies, and quiet, driving vocals; the band obviously owes a debt to American Football. American Football seemingly ushered in the wave of underground emo that maintained a small audience during the same time radio-friendly emo was blowing up across the United States. I find it incredibly justified to say if it wasn’t for American Football there would be no early Death Cab, no The World is a Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die, and no Foxing. The two latter bands being emo revivalists seeing a good bit of success as of late.

When I discuss the second kind of emo, the underground-ish one, the genre in no way resembles what bands like My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, and even Brand New play. Instead, the kind of emo ushered in by American Football is all about musical subtlety and, in contrast, strikingly obvious lyrics. American Football’s tunes sound like an incredible blend of math-rock, post-rock, and a little bit of jazz thrown in for good measure. They feature interesting time signatures, complicated guitar riffs, and some haunting horn lines. The lyrics speak for themself, being blatantly angsty. Nonetheless, the vocal delivery could be no better considering its balance and contrast with the instrumentals.

American Football had been on hiatus for the last fifteen years, to everyone’s detriment, and had not toured since their sole album was released. Ushering in the fifteenth anniversary of that album, the band has been touring once again. Go see American Football, the band that is responsible for so much of the modern indie landscape. Their music has never been more relevant, and I don’t see it losing its panache any time soon.

Check out these artists on the Shaky Knees Spotify Playlist


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