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

#ListenLive #DiscoverRediscover There’s distinct appeal to diving into a three-day four-stage music event like the 2018 Shaky Knees Music Festival. Even though it’s in no way possible to see or hear every band in the lineup, and even though falling for a previously unknown band may mean you miss out on staking the rail-side spot in front of the band you came for, a local festival with a sprinkling of bands you know and love is impossible to let pass by. But maybe you did this time?

Over the next three days, starting today, we’re going to walk you and rock you through the appeal of Shaky Knees 2018, starting right here, with day one.

Festival Pro Tip I

2018 Shaky Knees Music FestivalArrive SUPER EARLY on the first day of a festival. Figuring out parking, finding the entrance, and navigating to a certain one of four stages for the first time can take a LOT longer than you expected. I never ever saw the promised complimentary parking shuttle, and after a two-mile walk, my feet already hurt by the time we made it to the intended-second band of the day.

Shaky Knees Day ONE’s Delicious-but-Impossible Four-Stage Two-at-a-time Overlapping Lineup

(acts I caught and liked are bolded) Songs For Kids * Liz Brasher or Amasa Hines * *repeat repeat or Lillie Mae * Welles or The War and Treaty * L.A. Witch or Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever * Rival Sons or The Frights * Ezra Furman or The Ghost of Paul Revere * Jimmy Eat World or Waxahatchee * Courtney Barnett or Marlon Williams * Franz Ferdinand or The Black Angels * The Brian Jonestown Massacre or David Byrne * Fleet Foxes or Japandroids * and, Jack White

Festival Pro Tip II

Plan your band viewings by their schedule, but be willing to be flexible. Having your schedule mapped out in writing can help a ton when your brain is spinning with many many tunes, so much sun and sand, and whatever it is you chose to swallow or inhale. The Shaky Knees iOS app was a big help in that regard (but, battery life; see pro tip #4).

*repeat repeat | Criminal Records Stage

60’s pop — garage rock — surf rock — punk rock — guitar-driven indie pop

What a great intro to a blue-sky-puffy-white-cloud day at Shaky Knees. We spread out the blanket under a tree near the Criminal Records Stage and let * repeat repeat raise our spirits.

I was pleased to see, straight-out-the-gate, a prominent female band member (Kristyn Corder) and would later realize that Shaky Knees was delightfully rife with kick-ass lady-rockers.

Kudos, SK producers.

Check out *repeat repeat live this weekend at the Florida Music Festival in Orlando, or at Bonaroo, in Manchester, Tennessee, in June. #listenlive

Bummed I Missed: Liz Brasher

Maybe one of my friends in Austin, Dallas, Pheonix, San Diego, or Los Angeles, will fly me out and take me to see one of her stops on her tour. That Liz Brasher is one torchy indie-rock hot tottie.

I’m digging her Doors-edged-rockabilly “Body of Mine” and retro country-blues-balladess, “Cold Baby


L.A. Witch | Criminal Records Stage

rock ‘n roll — 60’s garage — 70’s punk — 80’s alternative — 90’s grunge

These women aren’t actually witchy, they’re just punk-pop magic together. Sade Sanchez on vocals & guitar, Irita Pai on bass, and Ellie English on drums.

Catch L.A. Witch quick for one of their two nights in Los Angeles before the european leg of their tour. They’re playing with fellow Shaky Knees band, Japandroids, at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever, May 29 and 30. #listenlive

Bummed I Missed: Lillie Mae

Jack White | Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018
Lillie Mae performs with Jack White at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018

Lillie Mae played violin on Jack White’s recent album, and performed on stage with him later this night at Shaky Knees. She’s got skilled bluegrass-country-folk hard-edged sweetness on her own, but catch one of the other four remaining times she’ll perform with White, and see what magic fusion makes.

Boarding House Reach. Three little words. Jaunty little flow. And a story behind the title: TMR artist and contributor to White’s solo work, Lillie Mae, had stopped by to overdub some fiddle parts on a country track, and when White reached past her to press record on the machine, he said, “Pardon my boarding house reach.” Lillie Mae was like, “…What?” Following what may well have been an explanation of the obscure phrase, she told him, “You should name your album that.” Dude. — “That Reach” an Austin Music Minute article courtesy of kutx 98.9

Festival Pro Tip III

Smuggle snacks but still be prepared to spend buku bucks on festival food and bev. Festivals count on people spending a lot on refreshments and they tend to specify No Outside Food, which in captivity makes the prices seem reasonable to the desperate but are legitimately insane for the bank account. Bonus tip: Don’t decide on a food truck just because it’s the only one without a line. I don’t want you to learn the hard way.

We tried a lot of food over the weekend (love me some foodie food trucks), but there was only one we went back to the next day for seconds… Roti Rolls Atlanta. When you come across them, definitely try both the Mother Clucker and the Therman Merman. The former is grilled organic chicken, shredded cheese, seasonal pickled/candied local vegetables, salsa, salsa verde, and hoisin aioli; and the latter, braised local short-rib or pork, Creole mac & cheese, and homemade kimchi. Oh. my. god.

The Ghost of Paul Revere | Criminal Records Stage

folk rock — holler folk — roots music — classic rock harmony

Totes relaxed on my blanket here for this band. Digging the people watching, especially the kids that are game to rock out with thousands of other people. Is the whole weekend going to be literally this good? (Yes, it was.)

Catch Ghost of Paul Revere this weekend in Massachusetts, or for their crazy good weekend in California, May 25, 26, and 27, at Freight and Salvage, in Berkeley the first night, or one of the next two days at either the Napa Bottle Rock Festival, or the Grass Valley Strawberry Festival. Dang, boys! #listenlive


Bummed I Missed: Rival Sons

Whoa. Yeah, “take me to the sugar shack“, gentlemen. I want your bluesy alt-rock in my face.

One of my bestest lives in Madrid. He’d love Rival Sons. I think we need to hang out on June 14th.


Waxahatchee | Ponce de Leon Stage

dream pop — indie rock — alt folk — singer/songrwiter

The Waxahatchee band is Katie Crutchfield, lead vocals, Allison Crutchfield on keyboards and percussion, Katherine Simonetti on bass, Ashley Arnwine on drums, and Katie Harkin, lead guitar.

Only one more night in the States for Waxahatchee, before a bunch of dates in Spain, and much more in Europe. So find her in Indiana this weekend, or brush up on your Spanish before June. (Hey bestie in Madrid!!!)

It’s interesting to me that the instruments, the guitar, drums, bass, are way muted on Waxahatchee’s published videos most featuring Katie Crutchfield as a solo artist. Live, they’re a rock band — with dreamy vocals, but a very cohesive rock band. Intriguing. All the more reason to #listenlive

Waxahatchee was so good, we caught her, on purpose, a second time Saturday night at Vinyl, Center Stage Theater. Totally worth it, also because they were opened by Charly Bliss.

Bummed I Missed: Jimmy Eat World

Jimmy Eat World | Shaky Knees Music Festival | Photo by Amber E. Taylor
Jimmy Eat World performs on the Piedmont stage across the festival, simultaneously with Waxahatchee, at Shaky Knees | Photo by Amber E. Taylor

Honestly it’s only because I remember enjoying their hit, “The Middle.” I kinda consider them what I call brah-rock, not something I typically seek out. But, festivals are for #DiscoveryRediscovery and it’s possible they’ve evolved, Or, simply aren’t the sum of their hits.

New friend from waiting for David Byrne to perform, Amber E. Taylor, caught this sweet shot. I think I’ll offer a penny or a coffee for her thoughts on the bands she caught that I didn’t. #MusicFestivalMagic

David Byrne | Peachtree Stage

You know David Byrne. Of The Talking Heads (1975-1991). Of the first days of MTV (with the video “Once In a Lifetime“). Of the Red Hot Organization compilation contributors (six, including “Don’t Fence Me In” by Cole Porter). Of the Microsoft XP demo song for it’s new Windows Media player (“Like Humans Do“), in freaking 2001.

David Byrne | Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018
David Byrne performs at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2018

If you don’t know who I’m talking about, then you’re not one of the cool kids. ‘Cause there were thousands of them celebrating David’s performance vivaciously.

By kids, I mean young persons in their twenties. Exactly how they know about David Byrne, and can sing his lyrics way better than I can, I don’t know. But it’s beautiful. And the dancing. Dancing with many thousands of other people is intoxicating.

Byrne is incredibly odd. There. I said it. And, there’s something incredibly beautiful about him, and his music, and the way his band members perform with him as a united physical artistic expression of this artist’s spirit. He is a showman who’s live performances are mesmerizing, and should not be missed.

David Byrne Set List

  • Here
  • Lazy
  • I Zimbra (Talking Heads)
  • Slippery People (Talking Heads)
  • Everybody’s Coming to My House
  • This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads)
  • Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads)
  • Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover)
  • I Dance Like This
  • Every Day Is a Miracle
  • Blind (Talking Heads)
  • Burning Down the House (Talking Heads)
  • Hell You Talmbout (original by Janelle Monáe)

David and his band, all sporting dapper matching grey suits against an epic grey bead curtain, held attention to the end, and used our captivation to raise “Hell You Talmbout” to the night’s emerging stars, enlisting our spirits and voices to remind the universe of the many African-Americans who have lost their lives to racial violence and in particular in episodes involving law enforcement.

We were sad to see him leave the stage. But, Byrne is touring. And he’s even coming back to Atlanta. #listenlive

Bummed I Missed: Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand is evolving (see their recently released video, “Always Ascending“). And I missed it, other than grasping what loveliness I could hear from the nearby Peachtree Stage while waiting in a strategic spot for David Byrne. I was dancing my ass off, in my mind though on my resting butt. With an incredible sound that you know when you hear it no matter how they evolve, their “Take Me Out” is one of the best head-banging alt-rock dance anthems EVER. You know it. Play it. And dance your ass off, on your feet or otherwise.

Jack White | Peachtree Stage

I’ve never been a fan. But that’s not to say I don’t love his mega hits “Fell In Love With A Girl” and “Seven Nation Army” (both with The White Stripes), and “Steady As She Goes” (with the Raconteurs), and the unforgettable Alicia Keys joint “Another Way to Die” (from the James Bond film “Quantom of Solace”). I just never followed Jack White‘s album releases. This performance seems to have changed that. I’m now listening to his latest album (included below), Boarding House Reach.

I’m now fully aware why White’s known as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. When you see a person play expertly and incitingly, five different guitars, the keyboards, the drums, etcetera, it does something to your insides.  Key to that is showmanship, combined with skill, combined with exciting  and compelling composition, arrangement, direction and lyricism.

I’m chalking this one up to — even though Jack White was a headliner and I know exactly who he is — discovery. #DiscoverRediscover #ListenLive.

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

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

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: