10 Bands to See at Shaky Knees 2018

The Atlanta superfest is back this weekend with a stellar lineup. Here are some of the hidden gems you need to catch.

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10 Bands to See at Shaky Knees 2018

Shaky Knees  Music Festival has swiftly risen through the ranks of American music festivals, establishing itself as one of the South’s—if not the nation’s—most appealing showcases of rock ‘n’ roll, both indie and otherwise. Paste is headquartered in Atlanta, so many of us will be in attendance to keep you updated on all of this year’s action. Before the sixth annual edition envelopes Atlanta’s Central Park from May 4-6, we’re looking ahead to recommend some bands that those of you getting Shaky with it won’t want to miss. We won’t waste any digital ink telling you to catch the headliners you already know you love—instead, we’re shining a light on a handful of the festival’s hidden gems, taking some of the guesswork out of your daily set decisions. Here are 10 bands to see at Shaky Knees, listed in order of their set times. You can see the fest’s full schedule here.

1. Amasa Hines
Here’s the thing about Shaky Knees this year: You need to get there early, and I mean right at the beginning, especially on Friday. The first-day lineup is stacked with Paste favorites, and it would be all too easy to miss Amasa Hines, given that their set starts at noon. But that would be a shame, because singer Joshua Asante and his band bring every ounce of fire and passion to their eclectic blend of soul, jazz, rock and “psychedelic afro-futurism” with every performance, even if it is at noon, while most of the festival attendees are still slathering on sunscreen. Given the chance, Hines and his incredibly tight band (dig the saxophone) will play well past their 30-minute allotment, breaking off epic improvisational jams at the drop of a hat. Check them out for at least a little while, before cursing that Lillie Mae starts 15 minutes into their scheduled set. —Jim Vorel

2. Lillie Mae
I am not typically a fan of what might properly be called “country music.” My taste veers toward the folkier, the more acoustic and the more bluegrass-oriented … but there’s something about the authenticity of Lillie Mae that strikes a chord in even someone who can’t abide most singers appointed as country music’s latest savior. Her lilting, youthful voice is the perfect accompaniment to an immediately iconic sideshave, but it’s the songwriting and instrumental chops of immediate classics from her first album, Forever and Then Some, such as “Over The Hill and Through the Woods” or “To Go Wrong” that will stick with you long after she lays down her fiddle. Or to put it another way: If you’ve listened to Margo Price in the last few years and wished there was a little bit more instrumental virtuosity in those songs, then you owe it to yourself to check out Lillie Mae. —Jim Vorel

3. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
There’s a lot of excitement in the Paste office for the June 15 arrival of RBCF’s debut LP Hope Downs (via Sub Pop). There are few EPs that we’ve listened to more times in the past year than 2017’s The French Press, and it’s one of those recordings that is still getting better and better with each spin. Just try to resist the sunny allure and jangly guitars of the title track, or the more surfy groove of “Fountain of Good Fortune”— they seem like an obvious festival-set slam dunk. One can assume that the Shaky Knees audience will be treated to at least a couple of tracks from Hope Downs, and we’re ready to hear the new sounds these Australians have worked up for a full-length debut. —Jim Vorel

4. L.A. Witch
Irita Pai, Ellie English and Sade Sanchez make up the Southern California trio L.A. Witch. They released their self-titled debut album last September via Suicide Squeeze Records and it’s full of punky, surfy, garage-rock tunes with a bite of sweetness, as they also channel the girl groups of the ‘60s. The band could have easily fallen into the trap of making a one-dimensional, dark garage-pop record, but instead their sharp riffs and solos, sassy vocals and complex musical tangents are more than enough to bewitch listeners. On their vivid desert-rock debut, the devil is in the details, and it’s more and more enticing with each listen. Songs like “Baby in Blue Jeans” are hazy, seductive and hypnotic slow burners, while tunes like the unruffled and effortlessly cool “Drive Your Car” wake you up and send you on your way with their fuzzy electric guitar riffs.—Lizzie Manno

5. Ezra Furman
If you’re on the hunt for pure, unadulterated fun on the first day of Shaky Knees, the Peachtree stage is where you need to be at 3:15 p.m. Yes, it competes with Ghost of Paul Revere on the Criminal Records stage, but trust me—Ezra is the fix you’re looking for to set you in the mood for the rest of the night. Prepare yourself for some grooves. His latest album, Transangelic Exodus was released just a couple of months ago in February. It’s certainly worth a listen if you’re not familiar with Mr. Furman, so go do your homework, will you? See you at the set! Let’s dance. —Annie Black

6. Sun Seeker
Seeking sun shouldn’t be too difficult at 12:45 p.m. ET on a spring Saturday in the South, but that’s no reason to overlook this Nashville quartet’s early-afternoon set, one of the first shows of Shaky day two. Third Man Records put out Sun Seeker’s debut EP Biddeford last summer, and the band has since garnered widespread praise for their psych-tinged folk-rock sound, a laid-back yet ageless blend of both the distinctly Southern and the otherworldly that the band’s bio classifies simply as “Cosmic American Music.” It’s appropriate that Sun Seeker’s music defies time: Its four members are each 21 or under, with talent and vision beyond their years. We can’t imagine Shaky Knees’ will be the last festival crowd this Music City act enchants. —Scott Russell

7. Parquet Courts
Paste likes Parquet Courts: We ranked their 2016 album Human Performance as #20 on our best albums of the year, and in reviewing that album, our writer Eric R. Danton wrote, “The band’s real skill here is blending so many unexpected elements into a coherent whole that is at once adventurous and accessible, even if—or maybe because—you have to hustle a little to keep up.” In 2018, we’re still willing to hustle for Parquet Courts. In fact, we might be willing to hustle even harder, because their new album Wide Awake! drops May 18 and we couldn’t be more excited. Don’t miss A. Savage and the rest of the Parquet Courts boys—they play Saturday on the Piedmont stage at 4:30 p.m. —Annie Black

8. Jacob Banks
In 2017, Paste and Daytrotter teamed up in Austin, Texas, during SXSW to film and live-stream dozens of studio sessions. It was a wild week to say the least—we lived off of Topo Chico and breakfast tacos, and spent entire days in the studio recording. In the midst of a fantastic sea of mostly indie rock, we were all absolutely floored by English singer Jacob Banks. A tall, handsome, quiet figure, the second he began to sing, we couldn’t do anything but pay attention. He brought forth a powerful mix of pop and soul with hip-hop beats, delivering each lyric in such an effortless, compelling manner that we were downright stupefied. Needless to say, seeing his name on the Shaky Knees lineup was a very pleasant surprise. Banks is a force to be reckoned with and I 100 percent recommend his set to everyone. He plays Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on the Criminal Records stage. —Annie Black

9. Alvvays
Chances are, if you’re a Paste reader of any regularity, you don’t need us to tell you to go see Alvvays—or that it’s pronounced “always,” for that matter. The Toronto quintet, whom we named The Best of What’s Next back in 2014, released one of last year’s best albums in their sophomore effort Antisocialites, a 10-track blast of irresistible indie pop that melded dark lyrics with halcyon instrumentation. The band cleared a high bar by improving so impressively upon their 2014 self-titled debut, which itself was shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Alvvays’ deliciously hypnotic music translates quite well in a live setting, as Molly Rankin and company match their ebullient tunes with a confident and charismatic stage presence. You won’t want to miss this band, although their early-Sunday set overlapping with Post Animal’s makes for one of the festival’s toughest decisions. There’s no wrong answer. —Scott Russell

10. Post Animal
Ascendent Chicago psych rockers Post Animal are known to many for their association with Stranger Things star Joe Keery, but that’s far from the only reason that theirs is a name to know. Polyvinyl released their debut album, When I Think of You in a Castle, in late April, before which it was one of Paste’s most-anticipated releases of the month, and it’s since been met with widespread acclaim. Founding member Keery plays guitar on the album (and Steve Harrington on Netflix’s beloved sci-fi series), but is no longer an active touring member of Post Animal, a fact that should in no way dissuade you from catching their Sunday set. The band has a knack for psychedelic rock that is as hooky as it is hallucinatory, as duly demonstrated by the vibrant groove of “Ralphie,” the apocalyptic stomp of “Gelatin Mode” and the effervescent escapism of “Tire Eyes.” Think of Post Animal at a festival. —Scott Russell

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