Friday morning at 8:30 I left Nashville for the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta. I was trying to get there in time to grab a bite to eat and catch Tennis’ set on the Buford Highway stage. Two days before I had interviewed the lovely Alaina Moore who delivers ethereal pop melodies over melancholy, RnB-influenced surf rock. Her husband Patrick Riley leads the newly formed five-piece band on guitar. Tennis is based out of Denver, CO which Alaina said is like,
“Living on an island. All the bands here that tour internationally pool our resources. If you need a bass player or an engineer, everyone is willing to share. New support comes from the relationships we develop on the road. I think Playing house shows with our friends in Denver was a really important in our development.”
The band is touring in support of their new studio album Ritual In Repeat which is their first full length project with Communion Records. They have only played four shows with this new five-piece band before Shaky Knees. Alaina has loved having another singer in the band that she can harmonize with.
“I work hard in the studio developing these harmonies that we haven’t been able to perform live so it’s been great to finally do that.”
Work in the studio are a much more private affair for the group. The husband and wife duo, with drummer James Barone, do all of the work recording the songs. As opposed to when the group goes on the road and, “We need a lot of help. Touring is a lot like drifting. It takes a lot of people to put on a show.”
It was truly a pleasure talking with Alaina who was eager to fill me in on the secret to their tunes. Before the two made their first EP together they dropped everything and went on an eight month sailing trip which inspired the music, and they plan to do it again after this tour!
“Sailing requires complete self reliance. We want to get back to that emotional, authentic way of living where everything is compact.”
We wish the best to this lovely couple and their amazing rock n’ roll band. Be sure to check out their new album Ritual In Repeat.
I heard from a few locals that the festival is called “Shaky Knees” because at the end of the day your knees are shaking from walking around in the hot sun all day. Not sure if there is any truth to that rumor, but my legs are definitely tired. The festival is in Atlanta’s Central Park and utilizes several roads that have been blocked off to connect a football field and park area to a massive parking lot that plays home to three smaller stages. To cool off from the sweltering heat that was radiating off of the black asphalt everyone was enjoying delicious popsicles from the local King of Pop stand. A row of about 70 food trucks lined the path between the two stage areas of the festival. There was something for everyone. After my popsicle I enjoyed a unique dish from the “Roti Roll” truck. These kind folks have been voted the best food truck in their home town of Charlotte, NC for five years in a row! A roti roll is a crispy Indian flat bread stuffed with delicious organic ingredients. I got one with creole seasoned beef and mac n’ cheese. It was incredible.
After eating I made my way to get a good spot for Mac Demarco who is one of my favorite current artists. His charming gap-tooth smile has been winning the hearts of fans around the world since his first self-EP “Rock n Roll Night Club” came out back in 2012. Now he is touring in support of “Salad Days” which has been described as “blue wave”, “slacker rock”, and my personal favorite, “jizz jazz”. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of it and I was thrilled to be covering the show. Mac has incredible on-stage chemistry with his band. Their onstage antics had the eager audience laughing the entire set. Bassist and long time friend of Mac’s, Pierce McGarry, took the lead microphone about half way through the show to deliver a hilarious, satirical, and strangely beautiful cover of “Yellow” by Coldplay. The crowd went wild as he proudly stood on one of the monitors and screamed the lyrics into the mic. Mac began winding things down with his groovy, synth-heavy track “Chamber of Reflection” before closing with “Still Together”. Everyone gladly held Mac up as he dove into the audience to crowd surf as Andy White (lead guitar), Pierce, and Joe McMurray (drums) jammed to a funky rendition of the song. On a side note, it was Andy’s birthday! He has only been playing guitar and keyboards with Mac since 2014 and has really added a new dimension to the songs.
As the sun began going down, UK electronic artist and production genius, James Blake, took the Buford Highway stage. Last December James announced that his new album “Radio Silence” would be released sometime in early 2015. His last full length project “Overgrown” was released in 2013 yet is still a very relevant piece of art in the electronic music scene today. Blake with the help of two other musicians put on a fantastic performance.
The first day of Shaky Knees was closed out by rock n roll all stars The Strokes. This band never ceases to amaze me. They’ve been putting out top quality music since 1998! Not to mention frontman Julian Casablancas being involved in many other nationally recognized projects. Overall, it was a great start to the Shaky Knees Festival’s third year.
Written By: Eric Owings