Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Follow-Up Post About Music

'Mercury' by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, James McAlister. Taken from the album 'Planetarium', released 9th June on 4AD: http://smarturl.it/planetariumalbum

Re-reading yesterday's post about music, I realize that I may have given the impression that I blame the recent decline in music, if not on the musicians, at least on the music industry.  Nothing could be further from the truth. I blame ourselves, the listeners.

With the rise of the internet and the mp3 file format, a huge abundance of music was suddenly available for free.  Napster and other file-sharing services thrived for a while, and even after they were driven out of business by iTunes and other services, the cost, in terms of both dollar value and convenience, went way down (and by "way down" in terms of cost of convenience, I mean it became less inconvenient - you don't even have to leave the house to download the LP or song of your choice).  

I remember one day back in 1996 driving to at least six different record stores stubbornly determined to find a copy of the debut Los Straightjackets album, modestly titled The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets, before finally driving home empty handed.  I had heard the band on Album 88, the former student-run WRAS, but no one had it in stock, and most of the clerks never even heard of it and looked at the disappointed 40-something customer as if he were making it up ("Los Straightjackets? Really?") or was just terribly confused.  Now, I can instantly download the album, or any of the 13 subsequent Los Straightjackets records, from the comfort of my home right here at the computer, or stream it on YouTube, Spotify, or any of a variety of other streaming services. At the push of a button, I can have someone deliver it to my house.  

I'm not saying that low cost and convenience are bad things, but they do come at a price.  At the same time as the cost dropped, we listeners decided that rock music had to sound a certain way - guitar driven, usually male vocals, song lengths between 3:00 and 5:00 minutes.  Sure, there were plenty of exceptions, but those exceptions merely served to highlight the boundaries of the rock sound ("it sounds like rock, but only with keyboards instead of guitars," or "it's a rock song, but 15:00 minutes long").  Our patience for anything out of the orthodoxy became increasingly short and we became increasingly intolerant.

Add that impatience and intolerance to the instantaneous availability of nearly the entire pantheon of all of recorded music, and today's listeners quickly box themselves into a corner of limited aesthetics. I mean, since there's no cost to us, most of us stream a song for something like 15 seconds, and if it doesn't sound exactly like what we were expecting, or is a little different or challenging or, god forbid, weird, we instantly decide "that's shit" and move on to the next file.  We never give it a chance.

Another memory (the memories of a man in his old age are the deeds of a man in his prime):  Back in 1966 or '67, I had heard of Bob Dylan and seen a lot of articles praising him in the newspapers, but he wasn't being played on the Top 40 radio I was listening to as a teenager, so I had never actually heard him.  One day at a local record store, I bought a copy of Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits to hear for myself what all the buzz was all about.  It was a $3.00 investment, which was a lot of money for a 13- or 14-year-old back then, so imagine my disappointment when I got home and put the record on and heard that nasally voice for the first time.  No one had warned me about the sound of his voice.     

Today, if I had downloaded it or streamed it for free, I would have immediately went "Ugh," and deleted it on the spot.  But damn it, I had just invested $3.00, had made a deliberate choice of that album over, say, the new Monkees album, and was going to hear the whole thing out.  By the end, I sort of got used to his voice, and on the second, and then the third listen, I actually got to appreciate his sound.  But I wouldn't have made the effort if I hadn't already invested myself in the effort to come to terms with Dylan's sound.  Now, some 50-odd years later, the Bob Dylan of the 60s is still one of my favorite singer/songwriters, and I can probably recite all the lyrics (and there were a lot of them) of Greatest Hits.  

So I guess what I'm trying to say is this: the price of all that low cost and instant access is that we have no incentive to be patient with something new, to hear someone out, or give a band a chance.  If it doesn't sound like what we're used to hearing, we move on and don't give the creative or the innovative or the, god forbid, weird, a chance.  As a result, the creative, the innovative and the weird doesn't sell tickets and can't afford to tour as much and doesn't get booked at festivals. The music web sites, ever conscious of the traffic to their pages, what articles got looked at and which ones don't, and the search terms people use to arrive at their sites. don't give front page treatment to the creative, the innovative, and the weird and their music doesn't get heard.

Music today is the poorer because of our shortcomings. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Post About Music

Soul Coughing performing outside Criminal Records, Atlanta, 1993
In 1954, Shake, Rattle and Roll by Big Joe Turner reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart. That same year, Rock Around the Clock, a rock song by Bill Haley & His Comets in a 12-bar blues format, became a number one single in both the US and UK.  And thus, with dual hits on the segregated radio charts, rock 'n' roll was born.

I was also born in 1954, so you can say that I've never existed in a world without rock 'n' roll and, although that claim can be made for a great many other people, I can also add that rock 'n' roll never existed in a world without me.  Only people born in 1954 can make both claims.

I grew up alongside the new musical form.  I was 10 years old when my parents let me stay up and watch The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and even though I didn't understand it at first, I knew that it changed everything.  I was old enough to have wanted to go to Woodstock in 1969 but still young enough to have stayed home when my parents said "no" (I went to the movies that weekend and saw Monterrey Pop instead), but by 1973 I was old enough to go to Watkins Glen without bothering to get anyone's permission.  I graduated high school in 1972, the year Alice Cooper released the album School's Out, featuring the classic rock refrain "School's out forever."

In the following decades, I absorbed glam rock, prog rock, kraut rock, psych rock, punk rock, and New Wave, got schooled by Robert Fripp and Brian Eno on ambient music and the possibilities presented by tape loops, was taught a thing or two about composition, creativity, and jazz by Frank Zappa, and dove deep into the underground with Captain Beefheart, The Residents, and Sun Ra.  I could go on and on, but my point is music has always been an important part of my life, and as the music constantly evolved, I was taking notes and tagging along with it.

In the 1990s, I was into grunge and alternative rock, was a regular listener to Atlanta's alternative radio station 99X, attended the inaugural Music Midtown festival, and kept up with what was going on at the time.  When the internet emerged, I followed trends that I had somehow missed and filled in vital gaps in my music collection, and I still thought that I knew what was going on in music in the early 2000s as I entered my 50s.

So it was a revelation to me when I came across a Usenet article titled "Top 5 Albums of 2005," and realized that I didn't know any of the bands - never even heard of any one of them.  I followed the links and was introduced to post-Millennium bands like Spoon and Metric, the retro-psychedelic rock of Black Mountain, and the post-punk of Bloc Party.  I realized that something new was happening here but like Dylan's Mr. Jones, didn't know what it was.

So I dove back into music, once more into the breach, in time to catch what I consider the indie rock renaissance of 2005 to 2010.  Record sales were at an all-time low and the copy-cat acts and their record-label promoters, not seeing any profit to be made, moved elsewhere, but the true musicians, those compelled to make music regardless of whether there was an audience or not, started playing what they wanted to hear, without consideration of audience appeal and market potential. Informed by the limitless potential of the internet, they absorbed music from all over the globe from the past 50 or so years and picked and chose their influences.  During these years, it seemed I couldn't go on line without discovering some new band that I absolutely loved, that challenged my conceptions of what music could be and the relationship between artist and listener, and affirmed everything that I had come to love about rock music in a half-century of being a fan.

To be sure, the renaissance did not end in 2010 and there was still a lot of terrific music produced between 2010 and 2015.  I'm sure there's still great music being produced today (as I write this, I'm listening to the incredible Planetarium by Sufjan Stevens and friends, an ambitious 2017 amalgam of folk, modern composition, and rock, all based on the planets and other astronomical phenomena), but to be honest, I don't know where to look for it anymore.  The music blogs, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, etc., that used to so reliably provide introductions to new and exciting sounds eventually went mainstream, all seemingly covering the same predictable bands or trying to expand their market by also covering pop music, dance music, and hip-hop.  The music festivals are increasingly marginalizing the new and innovative musicians in favor of comebacks and reunions by old and largely forgettable bands, or headlining d.j.'s, rappers, and pop stars in place of rock bands. And radio has generally been a dead medium for at least a decade now, and when NPR took over the student-run station WRAS here in Atlanta, perhaps the last bastion of independent music broadcasting, it was time to stick a fork in the medium.

Maybe at 62 I just got too old to search out where the cool kids are doing their thing now ("I'm losing my edge"), or maybe after six decades of absorbing new sounds, I finally reached my saturation point.  All my life, I've been hearing that this "rock 'n' roll fad" will soon pass, even as far back as February 3rd, 1959 when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash on "The Day That Music Died."  No one initially expected The Beatles to be around for long or for The Rolling Stones to still be a band 50 years later, and in the 1970s the punks were declaring "Rock is dead" even as they were breathing new life into the form.   It's not dead, and probably will never die, but at this point in time, it seems to offer few rewards to those who want to keep learning new lessons or having their minds blown by hearing new sounds and discovering new possibilities. If that's what you're after, you're better advised to go digging through the archive - there's bound to be lots of great stuff even the most ardent fan missed - than by checking out the "New Releases" listings. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Boys and girls, ladies and germs, sentient beings of the universe: we can't let Georgia's Karen Handel get into Congress.

As we've been saying here for some time, Handel is a perennial candidate who's only real accomplishments have been instituting restrictive voter I.D. lawes here in Georgia and dragging the Susan G. Komen Foundation into an unnecessary and needless controversy regarding funding of breast-cancer screening for Planned Parenthood.  She ran for Governor here in Georgia in one of the lowest, dirtiest campaigns in recent memory, which she fortunately lost, but now she's running for the Senate seat left by Tom Price's nomination into the Trump cabinet.

Yesterday, Handel sent out a fundraising email from Greg Gianforte. Gianforte is the newly elected congressman from Montana now facing jail time. On the eve of his election, Gianforte was charged with assault for body-slamming a journalist who did nothing more than question the Republican’s position on Trumpcare.

To this day, Handel defends Donald Trump—a man who mocks persons with disabilities, encourages acts of violence against protestors and the press, and even bragged about grabbing women.  Trump came to Atlanta last month to raise $750,000 for Handel's campaign, and the picture above of how she welcomed him leaves no question as to where she stands on his divisive and ill-tempered policies. 

Georgia is better than this. Georgia is better than Donald Trump and is certainly better than Karen Handel.  Atlanta in particular has a rich history of progressives speaking out against violence and hatred and bigotry and standing up for equality.  I can't vote in this election - my Congressman is civil rights icon John Lewis - but if you're able to cast a ballot, please vote for Democrat Jon Ossoff. Please.  

Don't let this woman into Congress.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How many actors. stars, movies and musicians can you identify in this mash-up video?  I see:

Mystery Train
Fritz The Cat
Edward Scissorhands
Cheech & Chong
The Royal Tennenbaum
A young Michael Jackson
Jay & Silent Bob
Talking Heads
Keith Herring
Saturday Night Fever (John Travolta)
Taxi Driver
Sun Ra
Alan Ginsberg
Andy Kaufman
Owen Wilson
Bevis & Butthead
The Jerk (Steve Martin)
Dazed & Confused
The Muppets
National Lampoon's Vacation (Chevy Chase)
The Coneheads
Napoleon Dynamite
Animal House (John Belushi)
Groundhog Day (Bill Murray)
Dumb & Dumber
The Simpsons
The Big Lebowski
Monster (Charlize Theron)
Boogie Nights
Weekend at Bernie's 
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Lords of Dogtown
Ferris Bueller
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Men At Work (the Sheen brothers)
John & Yoko

Plus a whole lot of things I recognize but frustratingly can't identify and a whole lot of others things I've never seen but look cool.  Music, by the way, is by The Avalanches.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Donald Trump is a cancerous polyp on the undescended testicle of America.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


From Sun Ra's 1973 concert for the comet Kohoutek.

The sound of joy is enlightenment.
Space, fire, truth is enlightenment.
Sometimes it's music,
Strange mathematics,
Rhythmic equations.

The sound of thought is enlightenment.
The magic light of tomorrow.
Backwards are those of sadness,
Forward and onward are those of gladness.

Enlightenment is my tomorrow.
It has no planes of sorrow.
Hereby, my invitation,
I do invite you be of my space world.

This song is sound of enlightenment.
The fiery truth of enlightenment.
Vibrations come from the space world
Is of the cosmic, starry dimension.

Enlightenment is my tomorrow.
It has no planes of sorrow.
Hereby, my invitation,
I do invite you to be of my space world.

I had the privilege of not only seeing Sun Ra and his Arkestra perform several times in the '70s, but also of actually encountering the man on a couple of occasions on the street of New York City and Boston.  In NYC, I was getting on the subway when the doors opened and out stepped Sun Ra, dressed in full cosmic adornment (the man was never not in character).  I dropped to a full prostration bow, but he gestured for me to arise and then somehow managed to disappear into the Gotham night.

A few years later, I was watching the Donald Sutherland remake of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers in Boston, and when I left the theater, Sun Ra and members of his Arkestra were exiting the movie theater with me (they were in town playing a legendary five-night stand at The Orpheum). We had watched the movie together!, I realized, and Sun Ra even answered my question and assured me that beings on Saturn don't behave like the body snatchers in the movie.

Anyway, Sun Ra, who left this mortal dimension in 1993, would have turned 103 yesterday.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fun Times

Life is hard, brutal, punishing, narrow, and confining, a deadly business. - Epictetus (AD 50 – 135)

The First Noble Truth is the existence of suffering - Shakyamuni Buddha (563 – 483 BC)

Worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), Leviathan

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fresh Up

"Impermanence is swift; life-and-death is the vital matter." - Zen Master Eihei Dōgen (永平道元; Japan, AD 1200 – 1253)

"The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately." - Seneca the Younger (Rome, 4 BC – AD 65). Seneca taught practical steps by which one might confront life's problems. In particular, he considered it important to confront one's own mortality. The discussion of how to approach death dominates many of his letters.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Where Old Cars Go To Die

Sometimes, I find the ugly to be beautiful - I like to see things that are banged up, rusting, and abandoned in pieces and left to rot in the sun.  Weeds growing up around an old rusty chassis are as attractive to me as a slick showroom model car.  Patterns can emerge from chaos and if they don't emerge, the absence of pattern can be a pattern in itself.  I like the squealing sound of train wheels, the sound of breaking glass, and the clanking of chains over cross ties.  I like the smell of creosote in the morning.  

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stop Karen Handel (Before It's Too Late)

Republican tool Paul Ryan came to Atlanta yesterday to campaign for Congressional candidate Karen Handel, who is in a well-publicized runoff election against Democrat Jon Ossoff to win the seat vacated by Trump's selection of Tom Price for Secretary of Health and Human Services.  As patriotic Americans, we need this election to go to Ossoff, not just to pick up a Democratic seat in the House and not just to infuriate The Donald, but also to block Handel's continued political ambitions.

We here at the Politics Desk of Water Dissolves Water have been ranting about Handel for a while now, attempting to warn an unsuspecting nation of the dangers she represents.  Way back in 2009, we pointed out that as Secretary of State, Handel considered suing the Justice Department to overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  In a press release, Handel claimed "We have evidence that non-citizens have voted in past Georgia elections, and that more than 2,100 individuals have attempted to register."  No such evidence existed or was ever presented.

In 2010, she tried to run for Governor, fortunately unsuccessfully, even though she got an endorsement from none other than Mama Bear Sarah Palin.  Back then, we noted that her "signature accomplishment was passing a controversial photo-ID requirement for voting, a measure considered by many to discourage mainly poor and minority voters, and much of her political career has been built around the virtually non-existent issue of  'voter fraud'.”

The next day, we noted that with the Palin endorsement locked down, Handel was proclaiming herself as the true-blood conservative in the race, while her opponents in the race were painting her as some sort of baby-killing, sodomite liberal - while running for office early in her career in relatively liberal Fulton County, she had endorsed gay/lesbian rights and once made a small contribution to the Log Cabin Republicans, and she got booty-blasted by Georgia's influential right-to-life lobby for supporting a rape-and-incest exception to a hypothetical abortion ban and for opposing sharp restrictions on in vitro fertility clinics.

As the primary season continued, Handel's opponents continued to define themselves as the true conservatives in the race, and framed the run-off campaign as being conservatives (them) versus non-conservatives (her).  Handel was the only Republican candidate in the primary not endorsed by the Georgia Right to Life PAC and as we noted in late July 2010, Melanie Crozier, the PAC's director, wrote an article in Politico that claimed that Handel's endorser, Sarah Palin, "has a son with Down syndrome, and under Karen Handel’s laws, Handel would have felt like it was OK to go in and abort that child." 

It was ugly, and Handel lost the primary to her Republican opponent, Nathan Deal, who went on to become a two-term Governor of Georgia, and she seemed to fade from the spotlight until 2012, when it became apparent that in the intervening years Handel had somehow become a new Senior Policy Advisor for the Susan B. Komen Foundation, and that she had directed the breast-cancer charity to cut off all of its funding for cancer screening to Planned Parenthood. That turned into a public-relations fiasco of the highest order and ultimately resulted in Handel's resignation.  Of course, she claimed that she was the real victim in the dust-up, and wrote a book called Planned Bullyhood or some other such nonsense.   

As we noted here in 2012, one fairly obvious motive for trying to insert a cancer charity into an abortion-rights controversy was that she had wanted to develop some "pro-life" credentials to compensate for the Achilles' heel that had cost her a shot at the Governor race.  Under this theory, we noted, "the chilling possibility that she may run again, whether for Georgia Governor in 2014 or for some other office, must be considered." And now, here we are in 2017, and she's opportunistically running for an open U.S. Congress seat.

To those of us here at the Politics Desk, Karen Handel is like a booger on the finger that we just can't shake off.  After enduring her tenure as Secretary of State, we thought we were rid of her until she popped up in the Governor's race, and then following that defeat, we thought she was gone until the Susan B. Komen affair.  While we had our suspicions, it seemed like there was no coming back from that disaster, but now here she is, once again, trying to represent us in Congress.   

If you need any more proof of her unfitness for national office, look at the very racist meme above posted on Twitter by her husband.  Not only is it brazenly stereotypical and condescending, but it's also ironic that the woman who launched her career trying to suppress minorities' rights to vote is now trying to claim that she's the one who will "free" them from the "plantation."

The Ossoff-Handel election is on June 20th.  I can't vote - I live in John Lewis' 5th Congressional District, not the contested 6th - but if you're in the 6h District and/or you have some money to contribute to Jon, then by all means please vote for Ossoff and/or contribute to his campaign.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Shaky Knees - Day 3

Here are my pics from the third and final day of Atlanta's Shaky Knees Music Festival, a fine, full day of Georgia sunshine, warmth, and music, starting off with the day's openers, 


Hoops were a new discovery for me, and they played laid-back jangle pop in the manner of Real Estate and the next act on stage, their former tourmates,


Whitney contains ex-members of the band The Smith Westerns, and while their old band had a more power-pop sound, Whitney has more of a folk-rock/country-rock vibe to them. A great set, and another check for a recent addition to the bucket list. Following Whitney, the stage was taken over by

Hamilton Leithauser

When I say "took over," you can take that literally, as Leithauser, formerly the frontman for The Walkmen, has a commanding stage presence.  Several young women in the audience around me seemed quite enamored of him and were exhibiting the eponymous Shaky Knees.  Stylistically, he falls somewhere between the crooning of Father John Misty and the soul shouters on the old Stax label (that's quite a broad range, I'll grant you, but trust me, Leithauser falls right smack in the middle of those two distant endpoints).

The sun was pretty intense all day at the Piedmont Stage, where I saw all the acts above, although by the time Leithauser's set was over at 4:00 p.m., the shadow of the stage had crept over the front few rows of the audience.  But to avoid further heat and sun (and to groove on one of my favorite bands), I went over to the shady confines of the Ponce Stage for a set by 

The Fruit Bats 

The Fruit Bats is the long-time project of singer/songwriter/frontman Eric D. Johnson, and I swear the only reason that I like him and them is not just because he once handed me a beer from the stage during a day-party show in Portland, Oregon, although that didn't hurt his rep with me (hint-hint to all other bands wanting a good write-up on this blog).  His band has a bright, happy sound and illuminates any setting they're heard in, and yesterday's show was no exception, and the audience clearly was having a blast dancing and singing along to the songs, both old and new.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the next act on the Ponce Stage,

Ron Gallo

but I suspected that he rocked and rocked hard, and Gallo did not disappoint, playing a blistering set of punk rock infused with just a touch of self-conscious irony.  It was a lot of fun and just the kick in the ass that I needed at that point of the day.  He also lead a "Happy Mother's Day" audience singalong that I tried to dial my own mother in on although I'm not sure if the call got through or not.

Next up on the Ponce Stage, and I'm really surprised that they weren't on a larger stage, were Australian psychedelic rockers


featuring members of the popular band Tame Impala.  As would be expected, Pond played a lot of psyched-out jams with distorted guitars and enigmatic lyrics, and put on a great show.  They were on at the same time as another bucket-list band, The Shins, but I chose to check Pond off the list rather than The Shins due to the relative intimacy of the Ponce Stage as opposed to the big main Peachtree Stage where The Shins were playing.  

I did eventually make it over the the big main Peachtree Stage after Pond, though, to see the headliner for the night and for the festival, the French band 


I last saw Phoenix back in 2010 at probably the height of their popularity, when they were touring behind the Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix album and the hit songs 1901 and Lisztomania, but frankly I haven't heard much from them since then.  They were late starting their set, not taking the stage until 9:00 for an 8:30 show, the first and only band I know of during the entire festival that didn't start right on time, although to be fair, I don't know if it was their fault not to have started on time or a decision by the festival promoters to let the audience grow as large as possible before they started.  When they finally did start playing, I realized that all of their songs sounded pretty generic and the same - there's definitely such a thing as a "Phoenix sound," and that all I really wanted to hear was 1901 and Lisztomania.  I also realized that they were going to play every song in their repertoire before they finally played 1901 and Lisztomania, so I left by 9:30 before they got around to their hits and don't really feel like I missed anything. 

Although to be fair again, perhaps the real reason I left early is because I'm an old man who had been on his feet for three straight days, dancing and rubbing elbows (literally) with a mostly 20-something crowd under the hot Georgia sun to ear-shatteringly loud music, living on a steady diet of nothing but greasy barbecue and cold beer, and I knew that I had to go to work the next morning and that I wanted to watch The Leftovers on HBO more than I wanted to endure one more last set of music. Whatever.  I decided it was time to go, and leave I did and I don't regret it and that, my friends, was Shaky Knees 2017.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day

And on this Sunday, the second of the month of May, we pause this seemingly endless barrage of pictures of bands you may not ever have heard of in order to wish our Mom a Happy Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I hope we can enjoy some time together again soon!

Day Two

It didn't rain yesterday at Shaky Knees - you're welcome Atlanta.  I say "you're welcome" because by my logic, it didn't rain yesterday, despite a forecast 70% probability, because I had brought a raincoat to the festival with me, all rolled up nice and tight and stowed in a pocket of my cargo pants. Today, the probability of rain was down to 20%, so I took my chances and didn't pack the raincoat, and sure enough, it rained for about 20 minutes, albeit lightly.  But obviously, the determination as to whether or not it actually rains is contingent upon whether or not I brought a raincoat, so "you're welcome" for yesterday and "sorry about that" for today.  Meanwhile, though, before the rain fell, the day started off with L.A's oddly named

Mariachi El Bronx.  

The name is odd as it contains the words "El Bronx" but they're from L.A., but they do indeed live up to their name and play mariachi-style rock and soul. Although the set was enjoyable, the audience at the Piedmont Stage was out in the middle of a field beneath shadeless sun, and due to the combination of heat and humidity, I ducked out from their stage area and headed to the shadier confines of the Ponce Stage for 

Foreign Air.

Foreign Air were a complete mystery to me - I had absolutely no idea what to expect - and as it turned out, I liked the indie-pop set that they played. 

An impromptu set by a drum corps in front of the Ponce Stage between the scheduled acts.   After the halftime entertainment, I stayed at the Ponce Stage for the set by L.A.'s

Run River North, 

who rocked harder than I had expected (somehow, I had imagined them as a folk-rock band, but they're a six-member rock band).  Their set was great but after that, the rain started to fall, although I had already found shelter in an unused food vendor tent and was recharging my iPhone at a live electric outlet that I had found there.  The recharging took longer than the rain and when it was over, I headed back to the VIP viewing area at the Peachtree Stage for

Catfish and the Bottlemen 

Catfish and the Bottlemen play, in my humble opinion, standard, three-chord, beer-commercial guitar rock, but they were successful in whipping the audience up into a frenzy and seemed to be very popular, so I just bided my time until the next band came on, who happened to be

Sylvan Esso

Now the day was picking up.  Sylvan Esso played their own brand of off-center, electronic-based soul-funk-rock and were fun to watch.  Bonus points: it was also dinner time, so I got to eat barbeque while I watched the band.  The next band after Sylvan Esso was another discovery,

Nick Murphy,

the artist formerly known as Chet Fakir.  As Mr. Murphy, Nick/Chet led a set of electronic r 'n' b, funk and blue-eyed soul, and was quite an enjoyable and energetic discovery.  After Murphy, the evening's headliners, 

The xx,

took the stage.  This was my third or fourth time seeing The xx, and they continue to grow as artists and expand their sound, while still managing to maintain their trademark minimalism and use of silence.  The huge festival audience at the main Peachtree Stage were clearly big fans of the band, and it's nice to see such an "arty" band attract such a large and loyal audience. 

And that, my friends, was Day Two of the 2017 Shaky Knees Music Festival.  The third and final day is tomorrow, and the lineup looks to be even better than today's (but not as good as yesterday's).

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Today was spent at the first day of Atlanta's Shaky Knees Music Festival.  This is the Fifth Anniversary of the festival, and so far I've been to every day of every year of the fest.  Here's who I saw today:

Frank Turner & The Rattlesnakes

Because somebody had to open the festival.

 Zipper Club

A new one on me.  The band apparently consists of members of Cerebral Ballsy and Lissy Trullie of, well, Lissy Trullie.  They were good.


British psychedelic rock in the tradition of early Pink Floyd.  A band I've wanted to see for a while now, and the first check of the day off of my bucket list. 

Car Seat Headrest

A triumphant set by Will Toledo and company.  Last year's album, Teens of Denial, was my AOTY, and their set last year at Terminal West was probably my favorite show of 2016.

Wolf Parade

A Canadian indie-rock supergroup of sorts, featuring Spencer Krug of Moonface (left) and Dan Boeckner of Handsome Furs, Operators, Divine Fits, and other bands (right).  This is a band I never thought I'd see perform (I thought they all went their separate ways) and the second check off my bucket list.  

It's not an Atlanta festival unless it rains at least once, but despite dire warnings, 


(formerly known as Viet Cong) performed a massive-sounding set.  However, the skies cleared up without any rain (other than one or two drops) hitting the festival grounds.

LCD Soundsystem 

New York's LCD Soundsystem headlined.  I've been wanting to see LCD for a full 10 years now - they're one of my favorite bands - and I finally got to cross a third band off of my bucket list.

Here's a small part of the audience for LCD:

Here's your humble narrator:

Shaky Knees continues through the weekend.  I'm off to bed for a full day of music tomorrow.