Shaky Knees Day Deux spanned the generational gamut with Walk the Moon, My Morning Jacket, Huey Lewis and The News and Foals among the bands garnering hordes of fans.
Another blessed-weather day graced the downtown music festival, which concludes on Sunday with a lineup highlighted by Young the Giant, Deftones, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, At the Drive-In and Florence + The Machine.
The only minor snafu on Saturday came shortly after Shakey Graves took the Ponce de Leon stage and a power outage occurred. The musician (Alejandro Rose-Garcia) played an acoustic song during the 20-minute delay, which caused a domino effect that resulted in all of the performances on the three stages inside Centennial Olympic Park being delayed 10 minutes.
No one seemed to mind.
Here is a recap of some of Saturday’s performances.
For more information about the final day of Shaky Knees 2016, click here.
For coverage of Day 1 of Shaky Knees, click here.
The alt-rockers from Rhode Island are a quirky group. Their main stage set launched with a song that was little more than distorted bass and fuzz guitars, but flipped to the melodic country lilt of “Houston, TX,” in a matter of minutes. John McCauley and Ian O’Neil traded vocals and see-sawing guitar licks throughout the set, which also included “Smith Hill,” while Robert Crowell’s rootsy keyboards coated the band’s sound with a layer of Americana.
- Melissa Ruggieri
A rock band featuring an accordion as one of its primary instruments will, inevitably, raise some eyebrows. But the Louisville trio make it work, creating lush, dream-poppy tunes by way of Lacey Guthrie’s lovely lead vocals and the aforementioned accordion, joined with backing vocals from drummer Maryliz Bender and Kevin Ratterman’s hard-charging guitar. The group played strong material from its debut album, released late last year, including the slinky, Jefferson Airplane-esque “Yoo Doo Right.” The highlight, though, came during a surprise appearance from Jim James, lead singer of fellow Louisville band My Morning Jacket, headliners later in the evening (read on for a review of their set). The group and James created a yearning, spare cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” that left you wondering what other magic could have been created if James could have stuck around a little while longer.
- Yvonne Zusel
Singer-guitarist Matthew Houck hails from Alabama and is currently based in Brooklyn, but it seemed many of the fans packing the area at the Ponce de Leon stage recalled his time in the early 2000s when he called Athens home. The Phosphorescent sound often resembles a mix of The Wallflowers and Springsteen, particularly on “Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)” and the rootsy, tempo shifting “A Charm/A Blade,” which, like opener “Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master),” came from the band’s acclaimed 2013 album, “Muchacho.” Aching pedal steel guitar colored “Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)” and Houck’s robust vocals—paired with his band T-shirt and trucker hat – gave the band’s set an unpretentious feel.
Huey Lewis and The News
The escalating thump that introduces “The Heart of Rock & Roll” served as the stage-setting sound for Huey Lewis and The News – fittingly, since the band was primarily there to perform its landmark 1983 album “Sports” from front to back. Within minutes, Lewis demonstrated that the old boy is more than barely breathing – he’s smokin’. Whether blowing his harmonica, tossing to old sax pro Johnny (“Jah-nay!”) Colla for a solo or hitting the notes of the timeless “I Want a New Drug” and “Heart and Soul,” the still-ruggedly handsome Lewis charmed. “Now it’s time to turn the record over, because that’s what we did in 1983,” he said, only partially joking, midway through the “Sports” play-by-play. It was a treat for fans to hear the simple “Bad is Bad” and pulsing “Walking on a Thin Line” (dedicated by Lewis, as always, to Vietnam veterans) – songs usually never played in the band’s hits-filled sets. The crowd was a pleasant mix of longtime followers, burly dudes in My Morning Jacket T-shirts and tattooed twentysomethings, proving that Lewis’ soul-pop travels well through the generations. While his voice sounded a bit rough on “You Crack Me Up,” it reversed course for the new “While We’re Young,” a breezy paean to living in the moment filled with signature horn squiggles, the band’s groovy cover of J.J. Jackson’s “But It’s Alright” and the gotta-play “Power of Love.” Say this for Lewis, too – in addition to his easygoing stage presence, he somehow makes crow’s feet something to aspire toward.
It’s always fun to speculate whether The Decemberists will end their set with “The Mariner’s Revenge Song,” the epic story-song that usually includes the appearance of a cutout of a whale making its way across the stage. Performing on a smaller stage at a time-restricted festival, it would have been easy to understand if the Portland-based group had left the whale at home and the song tucked away. But, ever the crowd pleasers, the band did indeed bring along their blow-holed friend and created a foot-stomping, sing-along set closer. The rollicking tune was a perfect end to a sampler set of some of the band’s more popular songs, including “the dirge-like “Down by the Water”, the three parts of “The Crane Wife” and the power pop of “Make You Better,” off the group’s most recent album, “What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.” Meloy’s distinct voice blended nicely with the dreamy vocals of his backup singers, one of whom happens to be Atlanta native Kelly Hogan.
By the end of the second day of Shaky Knees, there were plenty of candidates for Most Riveting Stage Performance. But consider Foals a definite finalist. The quintet from Oxford, England, has been crafting their brand of indie-dance-rock since the mid-2000s and singer/guitarist Yannis Philippakis and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Smith are ideal salesmen. The band’s colorful, energetic set spanned the jangly guitars and disco beat of “My Number” to the chugging groove and explosive chorus of “Mountain at My Gates” to the unmitigated frenzy of set closer “Two Step, Twice,” from Foals’ 2008 debut, “Antidotes.” While Philippakis and Smith bounced around (even drummer Jack Bevan hopped on his stool and later came to the front of the stage to engage the crowd), a frenetic light show stormed behind them. Philippakis ventured into the adoring crowd twice – even participating in a moment of crowd surfing until security thought otherwise – and, once safely returned to the stage, roared mightily behind his mic. There were plenty of muscles being flexed during Foals’ performance – and not all of them musical.
My Morning Jacket
A question: Is it possible that, in spite of how much we’re all devastated by the death of Prince, we’re a little “Purple Rain-ed” out? Is there really more room in our hearts for another cover? Louisville rockers My Morning Jacket proved that the answer is, in fact, a resounding “yes” during their two hour headlining set. The band’s soulful take on the Purple One’s classic, anchored by frontman Jim James’ gritty vocals, was one of many wow moments during a revelatory performance that was one of the highlights of the Shaky Knees weekend thus far.
James — who, with his wild hair and beard and colorful kimono looked like a fashionable version of The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” — led his band through MMJ favorites including the light, poppy “Off the Record” and the sultry “The Day is Coming.” Closer “One Big Holiday” in particular showcased how big the band’s live sound can really get when they break out into full-on jam mode, and was a strong showcase for the skills of drummer Patrick Hallahan.
The group also offered up some material from their most recent album, 2015’s “The Waterfall,” most notably the anthemic “Believe (Nobody Knows)” and “Compound Fracture,” which set the tone for the night by turning into a dizzying, psychedelic wall of noise.
Several songs were punctuated with bursts of pyrotechnics, confetti and smoke, creating a scene fit for rock royalty. At the end of My Morning Jacket’s set, you’d be hard pressed to find anybody in the crowd who’d argue that’s not exactly what the band is.
Walk the Moon
Back in 2011, Walk the Moon was part of the return of Music Midtown lineup. That was moderately exciting news at the time. Three years later, the affable Ohio quartet became suddenly ubiquitous with their dance-pop earworm “Shut Up and Dance.” Though follow-up singles “Different Colors” and “Work This Body” didn’t achieve the same level of inescapability, they solidified the band as more than a one-hit wonder. And those who haven’t witnessed their infectious live performance might want to take note. Singer Nicolas Petricca,
with his multicolored face paint and sashaying dance moves behind his keyboard and floor tom, is a joy to watch. From “Sidekick” to “Avalanche” to the aforementioned “Different Colors,” he instantly connected with the crowd, who seemed to know every word of every song. But as riveting as Petricca is, he’s in solid company on the frontline with bassist Kevin Ray and guitarist Eli Maiman, who were game to hop on risers and lock into a groove with fans. Walk the Moon’s high-gloss pop was well-represented with “Down in the Dumps,” which features a synthesizer intro that sounds like 1970s-era Elton John, and “Tightrope.” Petricca reminded the crowd that the band lived in Atlanta for a year while making a record (their self-titled 2012 release) – good news for fans, since the guys seemed to enjoy their time back in the city.