SK16 Day 3 Decisions: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Parquet Courts, or Diet Cig

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Shaky Knees 2016 is upon us, ready to kick in gear this Friday, May 13th. This year in downtown Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park and International Plaza, Shaky Knees is bigger than ever. With over 75 bands, like any larger festival, the decisions become difficult when picking which sets to attend.  Whether it’s two of your favorite bands playing at the same time, or you are looking for something new to discover that you may not know yet, there’s always tough decisions to be made. 

A few days away, now it’s time to start planning out your own personal schedule for this year’s Shaky Knees. Once again this year, Shaky Knees has 5 stages, with 2-3 stages going at any one time slot on both Friday and Sunday. Saturday, the times are staggered around more, so we’ve offered our 6 Must Catch Sets for Saturday. We’ve combed through the Friday and Sunday time slots to bring to you what we deemed the toughest choices of the festival for the non-headliners. These time slots cover bands that you may not know and need to hear about, or perhaps have multiple bands playing that could offer more crossover appeal to fans of the other bands playing at the same time. 

For those difficult decisions, we present to you our yearly Shaky Knees Death Match. We will have each band in the time slots we’ve chosen, pitted against each other. You make the decision on who you must catch. Keep checking back throughout the week as we offer our thoughts on those decisions. Check here for the time slots we’ve already covered.

Shaky Knees Friday Day 3 time slot at 3:15PM has three really outstanding bands, one of the toughest choices of the festival. But it would be hard to catch them all. Now it’s time to decide, which set will you catch?

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Ponce de Leon Stage – 3:15PM-4:15PM:

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Photo by Mike Gerry

This rock band has only been together for about six years, but they already come across as indie vets. Unknown Mortal Orchestra burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut album in 2011. From this, the track “How Can You Luv Me” promptly got stuck in many heads (including mine) in early 2012. That year they gained recognition touring North America extensively with Foxygen, and I was lucky to catch them open for Grizzly Bear at the Tabernacle just before that tour.

Since then they have released two more albums. Their sophomore record II bears another popular earworm– “So Good at Being in Trouble”, which you may have seen on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2013. Last year saw the release of Multi-Love with another string of catchy tunes including “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” a whimsical and dancey number bemoaning a familiar nuance/ nuisance of modern romance.

Led by Ruban Nielson, son of a New Zealand native trumpet player and Hawaiian hula dancer—Unknown Mortal Orchestra boasts a very unique sound on the indie scene, a sound that seems to reflect Nielson’s eclectic roots. While most often classified as psychedelic rock, their sound also incorporates nearly equal measures of funk and dance pop. Their songs are both catchy and mellow, fun to move to and groove to—at whatever speed you are personally feeling. Layered with the melodic and psychedelic tones are Nielson’s groovy vocals with hints of R&B. Unknown Mortal Orchestra promises you a trip from modern melodies to psychedelic indie dance grooves reminiscent of classic hippie hits from the 1960s.– KD

Parquet Courts – Boulevard Stage – 3:15PM-4:15PM:

Parquet Courts, Photo by Ben Rayner

Parquet Courts, Photo by Ben Rayner

Parquet Courts is the kind of band that worms their way into your head. Nothing may stick the first time you go through their material, but a seed will have been planted, waiting to emerge at any moment. Listen to their 2014 efforts, Sunbathing Animal and Content Nausea, and try not to find yourself humming some sticky melody or quietly singing one of the many eminently repeatable lyrics. A punk band brimming with ideas, Parquet Courts seems to have an endless supply of material. Their ability to turn a phrase and match it with an equally satisfying melody lends itself to a breezy and jaunty listen.

Live, the band is as precise and witty as expected after listening to their albums. They are able to move brilliantly through their songs, connecting them so seamlessly you can’t help but be in awe. If there’s a moment to breathe or pick your brains up off the ground it seems to be an act of generosity, as there is no doubt Parquet Courts could rip through their entire discography without so much as a water break. The band is a controlled demolition; those who know what’s coming can prepare themselves. But those who are unaware will be blown away, not by the magnitude, by the precision and timing that reduces everything to rubble.

A festival is the optimal place for acts that produce grand sweeping sounds. The music ebbs and flows over the crowd and reaches as high as possible. But after a couple of days of dreamy, languid sets (and a few beers) the summer sun starts to drain your energy. Sometimes a crowd needs a swift kick in the ass to get them back into fighting shape. On Sunday at Shaky Knees, Parquet Courts will be wearing the steel-toed boots. – ME

Check out “Berlin Got Blurry”:

Diet Cig – Boulevard Stage – 3:15PM-4:15PM:

Diet Cig

Diet Cig

After only two years together, the New York duo that is Diet Cig have an irresistibly fresh sound that is also perfectly smooth. And of course they have a kickass name which suits their early to mid 90’s pop-punk sound perfectly. Their female lead, Alex Luciano comes across as brilliant and tough mixed with sweet and charming… an attractive combo to be sure. Noah Bowman, the drummer and other primary band member, brings a more worn but welcome style that you may have heard in other indie projects like Forged Artifacts. Over Easy, the debut EP by Diet Cig, was released in early 2015. It’s a fun mix and “Harvard” is a great stand out track with some choice words for an ex over the way they moved on.

Though they only have one EP, Diet Cig has released a few other songs including the single “Dinner Date” which is really incredible as is the amazing music video that accompanies it. The band has an incredible, young energy that they project in their live presence and through their sound and lyrics. Themes in their songs are the particular trials and adventures that come with growing up, moving out, and dating. While some of those can be tough times, the band treats them like a college band party to be pushed through and celebrated with driving punk style beats and grungy guitar rhythms that really just make you want to dance. Some of my favorite sounds of the indie scene right now are reimagined styles of the 90s, and Diet Cig puts that out there in one of the best ways I’ve heard. It’s the kind of sound that you can really get lost in and dance to, and I can’t wait to do just that this weekend. – KD

For those that love a good playlist on the go, we’ve added these tracks to our Monomania playlist on Spotify for your listening pleasure:

Contributors: Caitlin Daugherty (KD)Matthew Ellis (ME)

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Mike Gerry

Head music fiend at OpenEars Music

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