The second day of Atlanta’s Shaky Knees Music Festival saw a larger turnout than on the previous day. By 3 PM, the park was packed — Saturdays always tend to me the busiest and most ambitious day for most festival-goers.
Before Saturday, I thought North Carolina folk rockers The Avett Brothers weren’t festival-headlining material. It became clear to me pretty quickly that they’ve got quite a large following on that side of the States, the field was filled by the time they started their 9 PM set. Lots of people took to the grass to rest their feet, maybe for the first time all day, while taking in their marathon two-hour set.
Compared to the rest of the day’s lineup, The Avett Brothers were the most folk-sounding by a large stretch. Their versatility in bringing in elements of bluegrass and even punk rock is what makes them so intriguing. Over the course of 24 songs, they showed all the tricks they had up their sleeves and brothers Scott and Seth Avett brought their A-game.
The Avett Brothers
A cover of George Jones’ “The Race is On” past the halfway point of the set was a highlight, as was “Geraldine,” which closed their set before returning to the stage for a four-song encore. The Avett Brothers’ performance further confirmed the laid-back vibes Shaky Knees has been spreading all weekend.
In contrast to The Avett Brothers, Saturday’s schedule was chock full of punk rock. Palma Violets from the UK came right out of the gates firing. If Guy Richie ever makes a soccer hooligan movie, these guys better be on the soundtrack. Their energy was intense, and the track “Best of Friends” had quite the singalong going. One British dude without a shirt and with a big beard walked through the crowd trying to psyche them up into getting more amped. It was great to see people so energetic so early in the day as it helped carry momentum. The keyboards element to their band gave them depth a lot of punk bands don’t have.
Overheard while waiting in line at taco truck:
Taco truck worker (to girl in Jazz Fest shirt): “Hey did you go to Jazz Fest this year”
Girl: “No, I went last year.”
Taco truck dude: “Me too! Second weekend?”
Taco truck dude: “So for Phish…”
Girl: “I f*cking hate Phish.”
(everyone nearby laughs)
East Coast indie rockers Real Estate put together a solid set on the main stage. Vocalist Martin Courtney’s vocals find themselves in that Ben Gibbard-David Bazan monotonous range. To me, a lot of it sounded like Plans-era Death Cab for Cutie (not my favorite Death Cab but it was when they were their most mainstream). The sun was hot, but every once in awhile, a cloud would get in its way. “How about that cloud.” Courtney would say. “Let’s give it up for that cloud.”
One thing I noticed as I made my way from stage-to-stage: there were a ton more beer stands setup than people selling water.
Los Angeles’ own punk rockers FIDLAR turned in one of the most high-intensity sets of the weekend. From the first seconds of “Stoked and Broke,” people in the crowd where tossing full beers up towards the ceiling of the tent, spraying everyone within a 50-feet radius. Crowdsurfing came soon after, with a couple people pulling it off for a few minutes at a time. Now I know why pop-turned punk princess Kate Nash has FIDLAR etched into her guitar — these dudes know how to crush a live set. I’d take a guess that a lot of people towards the front spent a majority of their day’s worth of energy going wild during this set.
Boise indie favorites Built to Spill had a well-attended set at the Boulevard Stage. It’s crazy to think they’ve been performing for more than 20 years, and they played quite a few older tracks to go along with ones released from their 2015 album Untethered Moon. They ended their set with a favorite cover of theirs, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.
I caught partial sets during the worst conflict of the day. Neutral Milk Hotel saw Jeff Mangum’s voice sound just as amazing as it does on recordings, even with thousands of people singing along to old favorites from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. For those that wanted to get more of the punk aspect that had been key throughout the day, The Bronx had that covered in the Buford Hwy. tent. Though it was sparsely attended due to going against NMH and Interpol, this LA band brought it like it was a much bigger crowd. I caught the tail-end of Interpol in time to hear “All the Rage Back Home” and “Slow Hands.”
Social Distortion played their self-titled hit album in its entirety, including “Story of My Life” and “Ball and Chain.” The crowdsurfing was epic and they had one of the larger crowds of the day on the main stage. I left a little early to secure a spot on the railing for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. While waiting for him to come on stage, fans sang verses from Oasis favorites like “Live Forever” and “Supersonic,” it was quite entertaining.
Saturday was my birthday and there are few better ways I could have thought to spend it than singing along to “Don’t Look Back in Anger” with tens of thousands of strangers. Noel and his band were on their game — playing hits from Noel’s first solo album as well as favorites from the Oasis back catalog. “Everybody’s on the Run” from the first solo album and “Lock All the Doors” from the new one were early highlights.
“I hope you’re here to hear songs from my new album, that’s why I’m f*cking here,” Noel said in the most Gallagher of ways. Someone had a sign up that said “COME TO AUSTRIA.” “Why would I come to Austria if you just came here? Makes no f*cking sense,” Noel said hilariously.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Noel’s set was so entertaining that even the security guard was dancing along during “The Masterplan.” Noel ended the set with “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” letting the crowd sing the first two choruses before he finally came on for the final one. To me, Noel Gallagher was the real headliner on day two of Shaky Knees, and damn if he didn’t kill it.
“What the f*ck is Shaky Knees? What does that mean?” Noel said during his set. A girl nearby to me wondered aloud if it was about that feeling after you’ve orgasmed. It was hilarious but it actually made quite a bit of sense — after seeing Noel and his band shred for 75 minutes, my knees buckled.
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Tom Dellinger
Built To Spill
Mariachi El Bronx
Happy Birthday, Mark!
The Avett Brothers
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