Shaky Knees Festival 2013 – Review & Photo Gallery
Shaky Knees was a perfect festival, especially in its inaugural year. The lineup was spectacular, the staff was fantastic, the show was on time, and the beer wasn’t priced out of this world. Everything a person could expect from a top notch festival – all for less than $100 if you were a diligent early bird.
Then the gods peed all over it.
To describe the weekend of Shaky Knees in Atlanta as “rainy” is to call the Ocoee a “stream”. It rained for almost 24 hours straight a constant, cold, harsh, upsetting rain. But people were there, the show was still on time, the beer was still cheap, and the line up was still spectaular.
Moon Taxi was probably my favorite from the first day. I’ve seen these guys a couple times in Macon. The last time was at the Big Bird Bash, another festival that experienced heavy rain in early March (not surprisingly) and one that did not handle the downpour nearly as professionally as Shaky Knees did. Moon Taxi’s performance reflects the vibe of the crowd, I think. Shaky Knees folks were having fun despite the rain, were stomping around in ankle thick mud, and Moon Taxi ripped harmonizing dual-guitar/synthesizer solos. It was a stellar improvement from their time in Macon. It could just be these guys working a pretty heavy tour regimen, or it could just be that Shaky Knees was a better run rainy festival.
Jim James was another first day favorite. I got a chance to meet him briefly getting off the plane at SXSW, but Everett is really more of the My Morning Jacket fan, and had to point him out to me. While we were in Austin, we made a couple of scheduling “bumps” because of Shaky Knees. Therefore, we didn’t go and see Jim James “there”, understanding that he would be “here.” James played as the storm intensified in Atlanta, but the show was quite a musical and visual spectacle despite this. Long, spacey interludes of James jumping from sax to guitar while his band rode out a very classic groove were very soothing. But we had to get out of the water.
Back to the Highland Inn we went. After a brief conversation with Hardy Morris, dinner at Cafe 640, and a few loads of laundry in the dryer, we treked back to the festival to see Band of Horses. This is the second time I’ve seen them, the first being Deluna 2012, but I feel they get better each time. The band is very tight, the light show is well produced, and the rain made for a cool effect on Scott’s photos.
For Day 2, the sun shined through most of the day. We were far more active throughout the day, with a few bands really standing out. T. Hardy Morris, the lead singer of Dead Confederate and TheBlueIndian’s current “Band of the Month”, doned for the debut Shaky Knees crowd his debut solo album. The songs are simple, kind of folky crooning with a far more mellow rhythm section than his other other bands. It was a good set — short and simple.
Shovels & Rope opened the Old Fourth Ward stage on Day 2, and were, for a lack of a better word, adorable. The way these two folks play off of one another, switch instruments so seemlessly, and belt out such amazing harmonies, you can’t help but make that gutteral sound we all make when googling “kittens.” It’s awesome. Check out their live show. It’s just as strong as their album last year.
Murder by Death might be my favorite band in the afternoon on Day 2. The had great vocals, strong song writing, and featured a cello in the majority of their repetoire. They were playing the same time as Heartless Bastards, a band I’ve seen a few times and generally have not been impressed with. I wandered over for a minute to check them out, but found myself magnetized to Murder by Death. (Their name is terrible, though. Just a thought).
I didn’t listen to Delta Spirit long (another band that just doesn’t really get my goat), but I did make sure to catch Kurt Vile, an incredibly versatile guitarist singer/songwriter. I noticed members of Swear and Shake, Shovels and Rope, and Dr. Dog watching Vile from the wings of the stage as he played some of the most proficient guitar work at this festival.
Dr. Dog was my favorite, though. By far. These guys have charisma for days; and, as they took stage, the storms re-approached and a hurling wind began pummeling the audience with stinging rain. Luckily, it only lasted a few songs and their funky groove never lost a beat. I, however, had lost all my drive, went to the Varsity, and went home. Scott stayed and saw the Truckers and The Antlers (a band I highly recommend).
All in all, the one thing that was bad with Shaky Knees was the one thing they couldn’t control: the weather. Towards the tail end of the festival some of their hired security guys got a little cranky, but that can be expected. I can’t wait for next year, and hope that the sell out crowd this year inspires their friends to brave the elements next year. – Words by David Dorer, Photos by Scott Corkery