Came for the Kids, Stayed for the Bliss, & Had My Cake, at Shaky Knees Day Two

Random, epic, and sweet, Tom Petty greeted me as I arrived early for the first show of Shaky Knees Music Festival Day Two. I wouldn’t be the only one this weekend who would end up wrapped in his arms like Kim Basinger in the Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ video, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”

Epic Tom Petty puppetry greeting early arrivals at Day Three here and Day Two above, at the 2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival

And vice versa, many this weekend were wrapped in the arms of mary jane.

Knowing it would be overcast, Saturday was my red-lips-black-outfit day. We were better prepared, strangely well-rested, and determined to kill this day from the first act, to the end of a Shaky Knees Late Night Show. Success was achieved on the bookends, but I’m not gonna lie, I got super tired right in the middle. Sacrifices were made.

Pro Tip IV

Bring a blanket and rope, and learn how to quickly roll and tie up that blanket in a fashion that you can backpack-sling it in only a couple of minutes.

2018 Relaxing at Shaky Knees Music Festival
2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival

Lying on a blanket under a shade tree, or over the dirt rail-side next to the stage are a couple of primo experiences/reasons to bring a blanket that’s also easily forgettable while you’re carrying it — and dancing, or walking, or waiting in line, or braving the porta-potty.

Or hiding from the rain but being there for your band in an open air theater.

Shaky Knees’ Day TWO Delicious-but-Impossible 4-Stage 2-at-a-time Overlapping Lineup

(acts I caught and liked are bolded) Songs For Kids or Bayonne * The Sherlocks or Sun Seeker * Torres or Stop Light Observations * Bully or Mikky Ekko * Broncho or Teenage Wrist * Greta Van Fleet or Charly Bliss * Parquet Courts or Circa Survive * The Distillers or Jacob Banks * Manchester Orchestra or Andrew W.K. * The War on Drugs or Chicano Batman * Cake or Matt and Kim * Queens of the Stone Age

Songs For Kids

In my magical life, I tend to follow the path that was pointed out by multiple signs from multiple directions. I heard about 500 Songs For Kids on a random Facebook post by Colt Coates of Cure My Enemy and looked them up, finding myself determined to look into all this awesomeness. Within days, my editor was asking if I would cover the intense upcoming music festival, Shaky Knees. Well, Cake would be there, and I LOVE MY CAKE. But it was a lot to commit to. Then I saw that kids involved in the the Songs For Kids program would be performing and I thought, well that’s a coincidence. Then it turned out that Libro Musica contributor and amazing musician, Seersha, works with the organization. And that, my friends, is what sealed my decision to get in on this. Magic.

Songs For Kids performed at the top of each day of the Shaky Knees Music Festival, featuring young people who have been afflicted with long-term deeply-challenging illnesses.

For ten years, this team of dedicated artists have purposefully trained in hospital procedures and formed meaningful relationships with kids by bringing opportunities for creative expression into their lives. That may mean little more than playing instruments and songwriting in the hospital rooms, but may progress to hospital performances, and perhaps one day, performing publicly at events like Shaky Knees.

A family enjoys the Songs For Kids Festival, together, at Shaky Knees
A family enjoys the Songs For Kids Festival, together, at Shaky Knees

I will be doing a larger feature piece on this program for Libro Musica in the weeks ahead. There’s so much to love about it. For instance…

Their 500 Songs For Kids is a sing-along concert series here in Atlanta where hundreds of bands and solo artists perform to raise money for Songs For Kids. They do this every year, so if you’re a local band, please contact the foundation to get in on one of these extraordinary nights.

Six dates left this year for the remainder of the “500 Greatest Sing-Along Songs of All Time” — May 18 & 19, June 15 & 16, and July 17 & 18. See you there!

Bummed I Missed: Bayonne

What I get from the mesmerizing video offered on the Shaky Knees site for Bayonne, is that he’s a master looper.

Bayonne performing in his video “Appeals”

That’s always either a complete disaster, or you’re in for watching genius in effect. I have been lucky to see a genius looper musician in person before and it blew my mind.

This reminds me to look her up and dig her out from my past. I’d love to see her again and tell the world about her, as soon as I can remember her name…

Margot Macdonald album coverIn attempting my search — for Margot MacDonald!! who’s performing again in D.C. in September! — I got lost in this article listing some additional great loopers out there in the world.

Didn’t know Ed Sheerhan and Radiohead were live loopers, guess I need to arrange to see them live! #DiscoverRediscover

The Sherlocks

I thoroughly enjoyed The Sherlocks. Their sound is fun, polished, excellent, modern rock ‘n roll. There’s nothing to hate about the show they put on, unless you’re a hater where it comes to an act that is just plain damn good, and features very good looking young men that your teenage girlfriend is drooling over.

They may look like they’re mere wee babes, but they’re big in the U.K. and were already playing festivals three years ago, so they’ve clearly been doing this music thing since they really were wee babes. And, these total babes are made up of two sets of brothers. Yeah, hot (if you’re into that kind of thing; I stayed for the great performances).

Bummed I Missed: Sun Seeker

Kind of ironic that a band called Sun Seeker played on the grayest day of the festival. Looking them up, I found their sound is lovely, with such sweet harmonies, bringing to mind The Beach Boys. That would have been some music festival sweetness to chill out with this band.


Dang it! I missed the opp to take pics of Torres. But I swear I was TOTALLY listening to her. Her website is (brilliant) and I do indeed love her too.

2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival

I was in the Piedmont Stage area, so the sound was crystal-awesome, but was stuck in the Ford “SYNC Spot” — which was definitely located well within in the audience listening/viewing area. And, apparently, within tag-team distance from the Tito’s build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, too.

Ford’s phone charging hangout joint was sooooo appreciated, but when each multi-pod was fully utilized by like six phones, getting to 100% would have taken two hours. Ugh. So I chilled with my meal-in-a-koozie, in the comfy Ford shade bench, and enjoyed some outstanding sounds.

Pro Tip V: For eleven (or fifteen) hour days like these you’ll need to conserve battery on your mobile, or bring a charged external battery too. Be choosy about what video moments you choose to capture. Use low power mode as often as possible, if not airplane mode, and resist uploading pics (and, god forbid, video) to the interwebs till you get home or to your car. There’s so much strain on the cell towers that uploading anything takes a tremendous amount of power; not to mention the extra power taking video expends.

Album cover for Torres' album, Three Futures
Album cover for Torres’ album, Three Futures

So, ooooooo, an opportunity to hype NPR’s All Songs Considered Tiny Desk Concert video series, sweet. I’m including here Torres’ video from Tiny Desk. If you can’t hear in this video this one particular thing about Torres’ frontwoman’s voice and their sound that I absolutely love, then please, do your own interwebs search and/or — no, and definitely — see them live.

They sound like an evolved Siouxie & The Banshees, who I so wish had kept making music. I look for that ache-edged voice and instrument sound. Torres has it — softer then S&tB’s usual fare, but it’s there, and more, all their own.

They’ve apparently already been here in Atlanta on their almost-expired current tour. But I won’t make the mistake of missing them on their next one. #ListenLive #DiscoverRediscover

Bummed I Missed: Stop Light Observations

Have a listen to this dark-but-hopeful indie-dream-pop ballad-turned-anthem and tell me you wouldn’t love to let it grow inside you as you stand live in front of stadium speakers and feel it flow and beat its way through you.

Catch them this month in Michigan, or you’ll have to follow them to find out when they’re touring next. Or, because who’s not eternally desperate for new great music for their ear holes, add them to your Spotify lists.

Bummed I Missed: Mikky Ekko

More indie-dream-pop I wanna sway to. Maybe grind to. Maybe…

Whoa! It was Mikky Ekko on the haunting track, “Stay“, with Rhianna. Whoa.

After bouncing back and fourth across the pond for the remainder of this tour, Mikky Ekko will finish up at the Austin City Limits Festival, in October. Do it. #ListenLive

Charly Bliss

I do require at least a spoonful of pop with my punk, I admit. Frontwoman Eva Hendricks and company deliver with spoonfuls of sugar too, and I Love It. Their grunge-wrapped smiles are infectious, and we’re having SO MUCH FUN because they absolutely are too. Every song is head-banging, jump-inspiring, air-guitar-play-inducing, f***ing candy.

And damn straight I went to see them again later that very night at one of the Shaky Knees Late Night Shows. And it didn’t hurt at all that Charly Bliss was opening for Waxahatchee, who I’d just seen the day before (see our Day One article). I coulda caught other bands I’d missed during the festival, like Chicano Batman, but… sometimes a festival strategy involves indulging in what you know is going to be awesome. #worthit

It turns out, Charly Bliss will be touring with Deathcab For Cutie (!!! seen them twice, love them!!!), starting in September (hello, Eugene, Oregon, buddies!!!). Before that, they’re all over Canada and the U.S., including the Boston Calling festival at the end of THIS MONTH. They’ll be there along with The Killers, and Eminem, and Natalie Portman (wtf?), and Shaky Knees artists — Alvvays, Fleet Foxes, Lillie Mae, Manchester Orchestra, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and The National. And much more. Daaaammmmmn. #DiscoverRediscover

Bummed I Missed: Greta Van Fleet

When you hear from multiple people that there was an incredible performance that you missed, that’s one you make sure you catch up with later.

Greta Van Fleet performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival | Photo by Amber E. Taylor
Josh Kiszka Greta Van Fleet performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival | Photo by Amber E. Taylor

Apparently frontman Josh Kiszka is Robert Plant’s musical lovechild and when I’m in the mood for evolved Led Zepplin, Greta Van Fleet is the band I’ll be queuing up. And though reminiscent, startlingly unique.

Whoa!!! That’s both my reaction to watching the / listening to this video, and to finding out Greta Van Fleet is playing at a five day music festival coming up in July, in a little, little-known town that happens to be my maiden-namesake — Floyd, Virginia.

I’ve never before heard of Floyd Fest, but man, I have now, and yes, I’ll be applying for a press pass. Damn straight. And that’s the magic of music festivals.

Greta Van Fleet, I will see you in person. #ListenLive

Manchester Orchestra

If I could be at KROQ’s 26th Annual Weenie Roast music festival tomorrow to see with my eyeballs Manchester Orchestra, maybe with the power of my 1960’s-envisioned transporter, I would. I miss the Weenie Roast, held annually by my favorite radio station in the world (they brought us Depeche Mode, and Seattle grunge, and, and, and…). But hey, they’ll be at Boston Calling, with Charly Bliss, etcetera, so who knows.

I say with my eyeballs, because I was actually there, not far from the stage when this powerful indie rock band was playing here at Shaky Knees. But I was on my back on a blanket, eyes closed, knees up, the entire time. I experienced M.O. in a delicious dream state. A break from the festival, but not a break from great music. I felt it vibrate through me, and (N.S.F.W), especially in my most delicate tissues.

Oh, maybe that’s *exactly* the best way to enjoy this band. Try it sometime. Guaranteed you’ll like it.

Bummed I Missed: The War on Drugs

I can’t be everywhere all at once. Damn it. And the hard fact is that there was no way I wasn’t going to secure my spot in front for Cake. But later exploring what I missed (because FOMO), it’s impossible not to want to find out more about a band who would make such a sweet song as “Nothing to Find.”

Definitively, I will be finding my “Deeper Understanding” about The War On Drugs.

I missed The War on Drugs, and Chicano Batman, because I was in place for CAKE — in the rain — making friends. #fesivalmagic

2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival
Making CAKE-fan friends in the rain at the 2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival

Bummed I Missed: Chicano Batman

Just damn cool music. Funky and summery. And not surprisingly from my hometown of Los Angeles. I’m really bummed.

Promotion photograph for Chicano Batman
Promotion photograph for Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman was my first choice for a Late Night Show later this night and I got, albeit easily/happily, outvoted in favor of two girl-fronted bands I love. So, I’ll have to catch them purposefully later this year. Like perhaps in September in either of the equa-distant cities from Atlanta, Charlotte NC, or Charleston SC.

September’s going to be a very busy month.

Luckily, just in time, the clouds parted… and it was glorious.

2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival


Here we are. The band that turned my eye toward my first Shaky Knees. [WARNING: Unbleeped language to follow.] CAKE is John McCrea, trumpeter Vince DiFiore, guitarist Xan McCurdy, bassist Daniel McCallum and drummer Todd Roper. CAKE is an unmistakable sound that can be broken down to its F’G STELLAR SOLO TRUMPETING. No. No wait, it’s its F’G STELLARLY UNIQUE frontman’s voice. No, no wait, it’s the SEXY-ASS bass line, it’s the GENRE-GRINDING guitar. Damn it, it’s the writing. Simply, it’s CAKE.

Cake performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018
CAKE performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018

Something about CAKE’s music has a positivity, an uplifting spirit, a driving energy, even when it’s dark (actually it’s all pretty dark).

CAKE performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival

Though a fan for over twenty years, I’ve never seen them live. I’m one lucky-ass girl, and my viewing spot happened to be square in front of the trumpeter/keyboardist, right where I’d have wanted to be.

For a truly outstanding example of the trumpet component of this band, listen to their brilliant cover of “I Will Survive.”

Their set list included “Shadow Stabbing”, “Sick”, “Stick Shifts & Safety Belts.” And favorites, “Never There” and “Love You Madly“, but not, “The Distance.” And no, they didn’t f’g play “Nugget” (see next).

Seeing CAKE at Shaky Knees was a frustrating experience at many points because a “fan” five feet away from me kept screaming, the whole time, “PLAY NUGGET!!!! NUGGET!!!! PLAY NUUUUUUUGGEEEEETTTT PLEEEEEEEEASE!!!” Seriously, lady, fuck you. They only had an hour in this situation, let them share with us what they want to and shut the fuck up [NO PUN INTENDED]. And btw, I don’t give a fuck if she was being ironic. It wasn’t funny after the first thirty times.

[Reminds me of the ass-hat five feet behind me, at The Tabernacle for The Revolution (read on LM about it here), who could not shut her GD pie-hole during Wendy Melvoin’s attempts to get grounded and honor the passing of Prince with a solo “Sometimes It Snows In April.” What is wrong with you people?]

Cake performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018
CAKE takes a bow at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018

My karma’s pretty sweet though, ’cause CAKE closed out with my personal favorite, “Short Skirt Long Jacket,” which I swear was written about me because pre-it’s-release in 2001, practically every detail in it applied to me.

No joke. I wore dusters and short skirts. I drove a LeBaron (with an armrest cupholder). I banked at Citibank. I was a department manager and implemented corporate operations change like a BOSS. I kept my acrylics done (shining like justice) semi-monthly like clockwork, and ask my friends, was crazy-partial to wearing my hair in french-twists. Considering McCrea lived in Los Angeles too during that period of my life… you think? Or… oh god… was I a type?

I love you, CAKE. Thanks for coming. And thanks for playing your beautiful “Mexico” on this magical fifth of May, even though like you, “…I don’t know much about, Cinco De Mayo, I’m never sure, What it’s all about.” Still, with their smuggled margaritas and foodie truck tacos in their hands, the crowd went WILD.

CAKE performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival
CAKE performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival

Bummed I Missed: Matt & Kim

Come on, would I not have been entertained? Love me a little indie-rock-driven dance joy now and then.

Or, a lot.

Matt & Kim, in their video, “Fall to Pieces”

Seriously, check out these two SERIOUS CUTIE PIES, in at least one more video. Say… this one, “Fall to Pieces.”

Not many planned stops left on their current tour, give Matt & Kim some online love and maybe they’ll add a bunch more.

Bummed I Missed: Queens of the Stone Age

If you didn’t know Queens of the Stone Age are a great, and POPULAR, hard alt rock band that’s been around for twenty years, I’ll remind you by mentioning “No One Knows” and “Go With the Flow.” We may have chosen moving on to make sure we’d get into our chosen Shaky Knees Late Night Show, but I’m sure I’ll have many chances to see them again, and so will you. This year’s tour takes them all over North America, Europe, and Australia, so #ListenLive.

Late Night Show: Charly Bliss & Waxahatchee

I talk about crushing on Waxahatchee in my Libro Musica article, Came for the Wax… Stayed for the Byrne, Got Jack’d, at Shaky Knees Fest Day One. So if you caught it, and are still floating on my earlier-in-this-article sugar high about Charly Bliss, you’ll know why I risked waking up on time the next day, and, sacrificed seeing any other new artists to see these two again, including but not limited to Queens of the Stone Age. Did I mention it was #WorthIt

I DD’d our way over to Vinyl at Center Stage Theater, and we found ourselves (me for the first time at this of their three onsite venues) in an intimate space that felt like we were getting in on secret shows in these bands’ basements.

Vinyl at Center Stage Theater | Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018
Vinyl at Center Stage Theater, Atlanta

I could afford a beer or two before driving again four hours later, so enjoyed a favorite — Tropicalia by Athens, Georgia, brewery Creature Comforts. And then I took my photos, and danced in that way that you do when you really don’t give a f*** who’s watching, ’cause no one is. They’re dancing too.

And then, this is the view from my car on the way out of the Center Stage parking at 3am, I swear. What a GREAT DAY.

Horses awaiting their riders outside a music venue in Midtown Atlanta at 3am.

The view from my vehicle as I departed a Shaky Knees Fest Late Night Show in the middle of Midtown Atlanta… wtf?

For more Shaky Knees Music Festival reading and listening joy brought to you by Libro Musica…

Came for the Wax… Stayed for the Byrne, Got Jack’d, at Shaky Knees Fest Day One

Came for the Lord, Stayed for Joy, Got Vitamin D, at Shaky Knees Day Three

The Libro Musica Shaky Knees Festival Playlist

Kari Leigh London Written by: