Welcome to our third and final portion of Overblown’s guide to the 2015 Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. We’re here to simplify your decision making process and keep you from agonizing about that unmissed performance you otherwise might not have considered. These acts will all be playing Sunday, May 10th. Check out part one for Friday’s guide, and part two for Saturday. Let’s dive in.
12:30 – 1:15 – Matthew E. White, Nikki Lane, and The Damnwells
An avowed devotee of Stevie Wonder and Randy Newman, Matthew White composes songs with an expansive sound, replete with soulful horns and jazzy piano. It might be a bit early in the day, but my curiosity has definitely been piqued, and I may kick off my final day at Shaky Knees with some 70s-style R&B jams. Nikki Lane maintains the rootsy thread that runs through the festival, and supports the throwback-sound theme of this particular slot. Twanging out Southern sass like a contemporary Loretta Lynn, Lane capably balances accessibility and complexity, combining sumptuous orchestration with pop catchiness. The Damnwells also fit into the alt-county genre, writing the kind of astute lyrics one might expect from a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. The smidgen of synthesizers The Damnwells employ distinguish them from their fellow boot-scooters, beyond the pendulum swing between sunlit melody and melancholy blues. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this timeslot, so enjoy.
1:15 – 2:00 – Mini Mansions, Steve Gunn
I’d never heard of Mini Mansions until writing this piece, and found myself fighting the impulse to dance during that first listen. They categorize themselves as psych-pop, but I found them a bit more of a synthed-up T Rex with Brian Wilsonian aspirations (Listen to their song with Brian Wilson below! – ed). Steve Gunn makes lap steel blues capped off with a Lou Reedy baritone. Unhurried and lovely, his recent Way Out Weather is haunting, merging folk with krautrock embellishments. Both options seems viable for this time, contingent upon one’s mood.
2:00 – 2:45 – Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Old 97s, and The Mowgli’s
Preservation Hall Jazz Band is an authentic New Orleans style jazz band, and they’ve been active since the 60s. They’ve played Coachella, and closed it out last year onstage with Arcade Fire. I have no doubt they’ll prove an impressive ensemble. Old 97s are a Texan alt-country band, and the band I intend to see in this particular slot. Their single “Timebomb” has stuck with me since I heard it back in high school, and they’re rumored to have a riotous live act. The Mowgli’s (I fail to comprehend the possessive apostrophe appended to their Jungle Book inspired name, but whatever) are So-Cal rockers with a self-proclaimed mission to spread peace and love. With seven members, these megahippies are likely crowd favorites. I, however, am far too surly to see them.
2:45 – 3:45 – The Both, The Sheepdogs
The Both combines the already formidable powers of Ted Leo with the incomparable songwriting of Aimee Mann. Leo’s punkiness and Mann’s accessible poppiness complement one another astonishingly well. I’ve heard their onstage banter is almost as good as their songs, and I intend to find out. The Sheepdogs are a crew of Canadian boogie rockers who sound like they were fed a steady diet of Creedence Clearwater Revival and Allman Brothers. If you’re into flannel and beards, this may be the spot for you.
3:45 – 4:45 – Best Coast, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Heartless Bastards
Best Coast will provide us with plenty of lo-fi surf jangle, and are probably the favored pick for this slot. Their most recent album claims inspiration from Patsy Cline, Mazzy Star, and My Bloody Valentine, which is impressive. They frequently accomplish the rare feat of sounding simultaneously huge and intimate. English folk punk Frank Turner brings his acoustic ramblings to Hotlanta’s Central Park, and my curiosity is piqued. I haven’t heard a thing about this guy until writing this, but I suspect that’s because I’m a Yank. Heartless Bastards, a quarter of Ohioan garage rockers, round out this group. A little bluesy, these guys have drawn comparisons to their fellow statesmen The Black Keys. Lead singer Erika Wennerstrom’s voice rings out pure and true as any I’ve heard.
4:45 – 5:45 – Dr. Dog, Diamond Rugs
Dr. Dog is an indie folk band from Pennsylvania. If you haven’t had enough indie folk this weekend, you should probably see them. Diamond Rugs are an indie rock supergroup of sorts, composed of members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Los Lobos, and Six Finger Satellite. They remind me of The Replacements, though they do suffer from the condition of self-indulgence that all supergroups do.
5:45 – 6:45 – Spiritualized, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave., and Panda Bear
Spiritualized is a personal favorite and English space rocker Jason Pierce has written some of the finest, weirdest music in recent memory. Lazer Guided Melodies and Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space are both masterpieces. I’ll definitely be seeing them. However, I am by no means slagging off their competition in this slot. Trombone Shorty is stupendously talented. Panda Bear’s Person Pitch was the best headphones album of 2007. You can’t go wrong here.
6:45 – 7:45 – Ryan Adams, Xavier Rudd & The United Nations
See Ryan Adams. Xavier Rudd is a talented dude, and he plays a lot of instruments, but he’s basically an Australian John Tesh with a man-bun. Adams, on the other hand is an angry, hard drinking sad sack who makes heartbreakingly majestic music. Sure, he was married to an actress who was in The Princess Diaries, but nobody’s perfect. In fact, I think that makes him even more impressive. Even at fifteen years old, Heartbreaker still exerts an insistent charm.
7:45 – 9:00 – Ride, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Minus the Bear
I’m going to be at Ride for this one. These legendary shoegazers only just back together recently, and after all these gentler folksters, I’m ready to have my eardrums bleed. Old Crow Medicine Show makes their de rigueur appearance in this slot, playing their old-timey banjo rags. If you still haven’t folked yourself enough yet at this show, I guess you can hear them play “Wagon Wheel.” However, I insist that you need to remember that the dude from Hootie and Blowfish covered that song. If you need some synths and weird time signatures, go see Seattle indie band Minus the Bear. But seriously, see Ride. Actually, don’t see Ride, so I can have them all to myself.
9:00 – 11:00 – Tame Impala
Just in time for the drugs to wear off, everyone’s favorite Australian psychedelic band comes to give you some flashbacks. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve to bask in the lunatic birthday party atmosphere of this band. Pat yourself on the back, and then let these guys pitch shift the interior of your skull. Make sure you sit down, though. After the weekend you’ve had, you undoubtedly have shaky (and sore) knees.