Shaky Knees Festival Preview // 11 Bands to watch in 2015 // Atlanta, GA // May 8-10

By Brent Hill

May 2, 2015

Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta serves up 3 days, 5 stages, and over 70 of the most critically acclaimed, hipster-ically adored bands in the world. There will be reunions, collaborations; hell, with the amount of indie royalty at this thing, there may even be a coronation or two (so pack your sceptre).

Only having recently thrown their hat into the music festival ring — this is only its third year — Shaky Knees may be the heavyweight contender for one of the best lineups of the season. Headlining giants like The Strokes, The Avett Brothers, Pixies, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Noel Gallagher, Social Distortion, Tame Impala, and TV on the Radio are sure to draw huge crowds. Those names alone are worth the reasonable ticket price.

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But we here at CLTure are fans of the little (or at least the littler) guys, the up-and-comers, the dues-payers. With a little research—don’t worry, we did the grunt work—you may find some of the festival’s most memorable moments on the smaller stages well before the sun goes down.

So here is our official guide to the must-see-saw-them-when acts of the weekend (and believe me—we only scratch the surface here). Our advice: get there early, get up close and get to know these bands now.


Friday 1:00-1:45 // Buford Hwy. Stage

Why should you see this Jersey girl (real name Ashley Frangipane)? Well, besides being one of the most talked about new artists at this year’s SXSW, this synth-pop singer mixes industrial strength hooks with enough bad-girl swagger to kickstart your first day at Shaky Knees. Dreamy as hell and radio ready, everyone will be talking about Halsey this summer when she releases her debut LP Badlands.


Friday 2:30-3:15 // Buford Hwy. Stage

Don’t wander too far from the Buford stage, because you’ll want to temper all that Halsey badass-sass with the sweet, nostalgic sounds of husband-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Haley. Long story short: They met in college, fell in love, got married, went sailing, wrote songs, recorded albums (no idea if they play tennis or not). It’s a very-indie honeymoon: one that never ended. This is the set you want to bring that cute crush to. Tip: Learn the songs beforehand and sing along (and you may find yourself planning your own little love cruise).

Black Pistol Fire

Friday 1:00-1:45 // Ponce de Leon Stage

Childhood best buds making skeezy, blues infused stomp rock? Yes, please. With a sound that’s equal parts classic rock and modern roll, these Canadian boys are sure to light more than a few festival-goers’ fires on that first day. (Sorry about the conflict with Halsey).

Zella Day

Friday 4:14-5:15 // Buford Hwy. Stage

If you’re a sucker for a good small-town-girl-makes-it-big story, then this teen from the tiny town of Pinetop, Arizona is a must-see act. She made waves in 2011 with her stripped down send-up of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Now with plenty of buzz behind her and a debut LP, Kicker, due out in June, little Zella Day is ready for the big time.

American Football

Friday 7:15-8:15 // Boulevard Stage

Everybody loves a good resurrection. After forming in 1997 and breaking up in 1999 shortly following the release of their one and only LP, this emo-jazz jam band is back with a primetime slot at Shaky Knees. There’s plenty of hype and mystery shrouding this long-awaited second coming. Will they make a believer out you?

Hey Rosetta!

Saturday 12:30-1:15 // Piedmont Stage

Set your listening default to “panoramic” for this seven piece Canadian rock collective. Packing a portfolio of songs from their four LPs (and a slew of EPs), Hey Rosetta! will ease you into your Saturday in the Park with songs that build and bubble over with possibility and promise.

Field Report

Saturday 12:30-1:15 // Ponce de Leon Stage

Ugh, another conflict! Hate to do this to you, but music festivals are all about difficult choices. Hey Rosetta! vs. Field Report? Consider this: Chris Porterfield, the man behind Field Report, is a songwriter’s songwriter who crafts narrative songs with the power to hypnotize the listener with a litany of character-driven vignettes dripping with conflict and milieu. In other words, listening to Field Report is guaranteed to make you smarter (whether you like it or not). Decisions. Decisions.

The Devil Makes Three

Saturday 3:45-4:45 // Piedmont Stage

The Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show are bound to put on great shows at Shaky Knees. But for the Americana fan who likes their banjo with a bit more bite, try this California trio and their folksy fusion of bluegrass, ragtime and rockabilly.


Saturday 3:45-4:45 // Buford Hwy. Stage

This L.A. skate punk band may be exactly what you need to kick and push you into the second half of Shaky Knees. Drug and alcohol riddled lyrics stumble their way down a Long Beach boardwalk in a flurry of fuzz.  What else would you expect from a band whose name is an acronym for ‘Fuck it Dog, Life’s a Risk’? Nothing, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a blast.

Matthew E. White

Sunday 12:30-1:15 // Piedmont Stage

Sundays at festivals can be rough. What you need is a swig of Matthew E. White’s cure-all sound. So sit back and sip on a Bloody Mary as you rub up against a neighbor to White’s cocktail of country-fied jazz with a splash synthesized soul. Sunday Funday, indeed!

Diamond Rugs

Sunday 4:45-5:45 // Boulevard Stage

To 1,792 of us, Diamond Rugs is a supergroup right up there with The Traveling Wilburys.  Led by Deer Tick frontman John McCauley along with keyboardist Robbie Crowell, Diamond Rugs is comprised of Ian Saint Pe’ of The Black Lips, Hardy Morris of Dead Confederate, Bryan Dufresne of Six Finger Satellite, and Steve Berlin of Los (effing) Lobos. You excited yet? They’ll be playing in support of their latest country-grunge opus, Cosmetics. Follow them on Twitter and make it 1,793 of us.

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