It’s Saturday, the second day of the festival, and the weekend is officially in full swing, plus it’s Cinco de Mayo, so if you didn’t already have a reason to get out and have a good time today, Shaky Knees just gave you at least 25 more to get out and have a good time.
Songs for Kids
Once again, kicking the festival off was Songs for Kids on the big stage. Today featured, Nia and Danielle singing some original songs like, “I Can See the Light” and “Perfect Day,” and if that drummer looked familiar to you, you might know Charlie Hall from his other band, The War on Drugs.
Bayonne is the one-man project of Roger Sellers who creates dreamy landscapes by layering loops over loops, crafting sounds with his voice, keyboards and real drums into organic song sculptures. Headphones on, dancing around stage, he created a fun, creative collage of experimental beats and sounds.
The Sherlock’s from Sheffield, England, played a killer set of driving songs on the main stage, including “Escapade” from their new record, Live for Moment. Earlier this year the band opened some dates for Liam Gallagher and that seems to have served them well as the band displayed a steady confidence as they blistered through a ton of great songs that won them some new fans.
Self described as “cosmic American music,” Sun Seeker, from Nashville, just released their debut EP, Biddeford, on Third Man Records. Live, the band is a woozy wash of haze and vibe that was a perfect soundtrack for the crowd that assembled under the trees and across the lawn to soak up some great new music at the Criminal Records stage.
Moody, emotional and powerful. Torres hits the mark again and again with songs like “New Skin” and “Sprinter,” and in a live setting they’re even more poignant in light of her recent record label troubles. The opening lines of “New Skin,” “Lay off me would ya, I’m just trying to take this new skin for a spin. Pray for me would ya” set the tone for the entire set.
“Strange Hellos,” the final song of the set was particularly unhinged and passionate as she belted, “I was all for being real, but if I don’t believe, then no one will, what’s mine isn’t really yours, but I hope you find what you’re looking for.” One of the best sets of the festival so far.
Stop Light Observations
Stop Light Observations is a rock and roll band from Mt. Pleasant, SC. Writing songs about life’s larger themes of love, passion and loss. Singer, Will Blackburn possess a classic rock voice that sends you back to the 70s but he posses a delicateness that really pulls you in and they had a passionate and loyal crowd out to the seem them.
After ripping through their first 2 songs, “Feels the Same” and “Guess There,” Bully singer and guitarist, Alicia Bognanno, paused and looked down, “There’s a sticker on the stage below me that says David Byrne. I can’t live up to that.” And while David Byrne did indeed stand on that very spot last night, his set was cerebral and multi-rhythmic, while Bully was a freight train headed straight at you. The band blistered through killer tunes like, “Brainfreeze,” “Trying,” and “Spiral” before closing out with “Jennylee,” with Bognanno ditching the guitar and taking to the front of the stage to belt out the vocals.
Gretta Van Fleet
The obvious comparisons to Led Zeppelin aside… I mean, if Robert and Jimmy aren’t going to get the band back together, why not? The band has killer chops and can play and sing with the best of them, but I’d love to hear them break out of “that sound.” Their set left the huge crowd buzzing for more. I think this will be a band to watch for years to come.
You can always count on Parquet Courts for a good time, even if it’s a bit chaotic. A few songs into their set singer/guitarist Andrew Savage started into a spiel about their new t-shirts and soccer scarves, “That’s right I’m selling merch on stage.” They blistered through a ton of great songs including “Dear Ramona,” “Master of My Craft,” and “Borrowed Time” before bringing out a drummer named Diego to play the timbales and percussion on a fun song called “I’m Wide Awake” that could easily have been lifted off a late-model Talking Heads album.
Hot on the heels of their reunion tour announcement in January. The Distiller hit the big stage hard and played a ton of classic Distillers tunes that had the crowd going nuts from the first tune. Vocalist and guitarist, Brody Dalle growled through the entire set but with as much fire and energy as the band had all night, they really came together when they slowed it down for “The Hunger.”
Jacob Banks possess a soulful powerhouse of a voice and the band mined the deepest grooves all set long. The crowd at the Criminal Records stage was enraptured the entire set. He ended his set with a passionate and surging version of “Chainsmoking.”
During the previous set by the Parquet Courts, they told everyone “Up next is Manchester Orchestra all the way from England, they’re a full orchestra.” And while they do have some things in common with a larger band, like their enormous sound, locals will know them as Atlanta’s sons, and the crowd soaked up their bombastic and epic songs.
If you haven’t seen Andrew W.K. in concert before it’s a bit like a religious event that celebrates music, life and partying. The church of rock was in session today, even if only for a brief hour. For his last song Andrew asked the crowd to countdown from 100. At first people laughed as we all counted down, 81, 80, 79… but the closer we got to 0 the more excited everyone got, and just a we hit 0 the sky opened up with rain as the band kicked into “Party Hard.”
The War on Drugs
It probably won’t be too controversial to say, but The War on Drugs channel some of the best sounds from the mellow classic rock era and pull them into the present to create a comfortable relevancy that is perfect for a rainy Saturday evening, and as the rain came down at the start of their set and the lights and fog poured forth from the stage there were hints of Jackson Browne in the melodies but with bigger guitars, Little bits of the Eagles in the arrangements and pacing and a sense of abandon in the guitars that added perfectly to the now clearing skies and setting sun. Too much? Ok, they sounded great. Really great.
Despite the rain starting right at the beginning of their set, Chicano Batman, wearing their matching lounge-act approved suits, had the crowd dancing and grooving in the rain with their feel good vibes, and killer grooves. Described as “soul/psych/tropical” they’re out supporting their fantastic new record, Freedom is Free.
One of the tightest bands out there, they ripped it up through all the hits like “Love You Madly,” “Sick of You,” “Never there” and their mega-hit, “Short Skirt Long Jacket.”
Matt and Kim
Matt and Jim are a force of nature live and if you didn’t want to have a good time, well, too bad, you’re gonna have a good time. Matt introduced Kim on stage by saying that a year ago Kim had surgery on her ACL and this was their first American festival date since that accident, so it was only fitting that they should play a festival called Shaky Knees. To see them live is to love them even more. Frantic energy, crowd surfers, giant beach balls, confetti and non-stop smiles on everyone around.
Queens of the Stone Age
Finally, tonight’s headliner, Queens of the Stone Age hit the stage and hit it hard. Featuring a unique light show with what appeared to be rubber poles embedded with lights, Josh Homme and the band stalked the stage while tearing through a 16-song set starting with “If I Had a Tail,” “In My Head,” “My God Is the Sun,” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me” and others before closing out with two back-to-back classics, “Go With the Flow” and “A Song for the Dead.”
Ok, we’ve got 1 day left and it’s a good one. The National will be headlining the main stage tonight and don’t miss these other great bands like The Wild Reeds, Alvvays, Lord Huron, The Voidz, Tedo Stone and more.
Check out the schedule below for all the times and stages.
Words by John McNicholas – Photos by Hillery Terenzi