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.  

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