You can only get away with calling it “Hotlanta” if you’re Jack Black, who happened to do so during Tenacious D’s day three set, but the home city of Shaky Knees certainly earned its nickname on Sunday, making the 2018 festival’s final day as much an endurance test as it was a grand finale. Central Park nonetheless swarmed with sun-drained rock ‘n’ rollers stretching for the finish line, who were treated to one last batch of performances before the sweet relief of … Monday morning. Woof.
Shaky Knees saved some excellent acts for last this year, from exciting up-and-comers like Post Animal and Parcels on up the bill to big names like the aforementioned Tenacious D and festival closers The National. As a sunny Sunday afternoon gave way to a breezy, rain-free evening, your friends at Paste were there to soak up every song and report back, along with providing plenty of photos—of both the mid-show and portrait varieties—to prove that all of this actually happened.
Without any further ado, here are a couple of the best shows we saw on Shaky Knees 2K18’s last day. You can also revisit our recaps from days one and two.
It was nearly a disaster for Alvvays fans on Sunday—the band’s vehicle broke down on the way to Atlanta and they almost didn’t make their set. Thanks to a very early flight, this crisis was averted and Alvvays played the Peachtree stage. Molly Rankin led the band wearing a powder blue jumpsuit, looking both comfortable and stylish, and singing a good sampling of their entire discography. Of course, “Archie, Marry Me” and “Dreams Tonite” were crowd favorites. —Annie Black
I limped into Shaky’s last day late, cursing myself for missing the first 20 or so minutes of Post Animal’s much-anticipated set, but was nonetheless rewarded with a blast of buoyant psych rock, first in the form of the towering guitar attack of “You Were Not There,” off the Chicago quintet’s 2016 singles collection The Garden Series. Post Animal released their buzzy debut album When I Think Of You In A Castle on April 20 and rode that momentum into their first major festival set, putting on an infectiously fun afternoon show on the fest’s breezy, tree-shaded Criminal Records stage. The band brought the noise on spacey, hook-laden lead single “Ralphie,” swapping vocals and tossing in a synth solo that would have fit right in on the Blade Runner soundtrack, following that up with breakthrough track “When I Get Home”—especially well-sung by bassist Dalton Allison, the song lilted its way into achieving lift-off on the back of an incendiary guitar and synth bridge. Post Animal left it all on the stage with their album-closing “Dirtpicker,” capping a performance that has us looking forward to their future. —Scott Russell
In my experience, Shaky Knees tends to mix in at least one electronic-leaning act each year, such as Sylvan Esso in 2017, and this year’s dance party came courtesy of Aussie upstarts Parcels, who drew a steadily swelling crowd to the sunbaked dust bowl that was the Piedmont stage with their propulsive funk-pop grooves, driven in large part by Jules Crommelin’s Chic-like guitar strums and smooth, low-key lead vocals. The young, Berlin-based five-piece made their American music festival (and Atlanta) debut on Sunday, managing to get more people moving than any previous performers, despite the relentless afternoon heat, and visibly delighting in that fact. Parcels’ was one of Shaky’s most purely joyous performances—keyboardist Louie Swain was particularly bowled over by the moment, repeating “Too cool, man,” and beaming during the band’s rendition of their 2018 track “Tieduprightnow.” On top of their earnest enthusiasm, it was plain to see why Daft Punk offered to collaborate with Parcels on the spot after seeing them live, handpicking them as the youngest artists (all five members are only 20) with whom the immortal dance duo had ever worked and going on to produce/co-write their breakout 2017 single “Overnight.” Parcels are poised to export their infectious electro-grooves far and wide.—Scott Russell
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
It’s surprisingly easy to forget that Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats have only two albums to their name, including their 2015 self-titled and this year’s Tearing at the Seams—this is a big and vigorous eight-piece band, whose warm bear hug of a sound suggests a group who’ve been honing their craft over a far longer stretch of years. Rateliff is a lively, mobile frontman whose burly growl sets this act apart, conveying the timeworn wisdom and emotion embedded in their soulful strain of rock while maintaining a rollicking sense of celebration, with a big assist from his three-piece horn section. The singer dedicated a performance of “Say It Louder” to the victims of school shootings, offering solidarity to “kids not just here but all across the United States,” and later pushed his voice to its limits on “Hey Mama,” bringing a gruff, yet beautiful urgency to the lines, “You ain’t gone far enough / You ain’t worked hard enough / You ain’t run far enough to say / It ain’t gonna get any better.” Overall, Rateliff and his Night Sweats put on a feel-good performance that uplifted an ample crowd as the sun sank on day three. —Scott Russell
Jack Black and Kyle Gass were the last act to grace the Piedmont stage, and boy, was their show a delightful departure from the rest of the festival, which felt deathly serious by comparison. The D’s crowd-pleasing performance was part rock show, part comedy show and all awesome, highlighted (at least for me) by numerous favorites from their 2001 self-titled, including album opener “Kielbasa,” metal love letter “Dio,” raunchy come-on “Double Team,” the epic “Tribute” and a show-closing “Fuck Her Gently,” which made for the festival’s most absurd, sexually charged singalong. The band’s bearded core duo of JB and KG chugged away on acoustic guitars, bantered hilariously and also broke a bit of big news when Black revealed that they’ll be releasing a sequel to their 2006 movie The Pick of Destiny this October (or “motherfucking Rocktober,” as he put it). It was everything and more than we could have hoped for from these legends of mock rock. —Scott Russell
Generally the rule at festivals is no encores, but did that stop Voidz frontman Julian Casablancas? You better believe it did not. Casablancas came back on stage after The Voidz’s lackluster performance to play the beautifully stripped-down “I’ll Try Anything Once,” a demo of The Strokes’ mainstay “You Only Live Once.” As much as I love practically anything Casablancas does, I have to say that hearing “I’ll Try Anything Once” live made the entire Voidz set worth it. —Annie Black
There is no cure for—or reflection of—the end-of-festival, Sunday night malaise quite like The National, making them the ideal band to close out Shaky 2K18. The Cincinnati, Ohio indie-rock veterans helped a sizable Peachtree stage crowd come down from their three-day music spree, putting together an emotional, discography-spanning headlining set spiked with memorable rockstar moments. The band set the tone with an ethereal “Nobody Else Will Be There,” highlighted by Matt Berninger’s husky vocals and Aaron Dessner’s spidery guitars, before upping the ante with a thrilling rendition of “The System Dreams in Total Darkness,” its techno-panic humanized by Berninger’s yowling choruses. The bespectacled vocalist’s body language was decidedly downtrodden at times, as he moped around the mic for “Don’t Swallow the Cap” and “Walk It Back,” later noting before a somber “About Today,” that he had to “get in character” to perform such sad songs, despite how much fun he was actually having. “Guilty Party,” one of the singles from the band’s Grammy-winning Sleep Well Beast, was one of their most dynamic on Sunday, as haunting pianos eventually gave way to bracing guitars and the band’s two-piece horn section. The National evoked anxiety—Berninger bemoaned the news ahead of “Afraid of Everyone”—but also affection with their song selections, dedicating both “Bloodbuzz Ohio” and “I Need My Girl” to family members. Berninger took over as the performance drew to a close, perching on a barrier during “The Day I Die” and charging headlong into the audience while delivering an explosive “Mr. November.” Safe to say the beasts of Shaky Knees slept well after a weekend to remember. —Scott Russell