We’re moving slow and slightly sunburned today after a weekend of fantastic live music at Shaky Knees at Central Park in Atlanta, Ga. The festival ended on a high note with Tame Impala’s Sunday night set, an explosion of color and energy that was as much a light show as it was a concert. Earlier in the day, we caught Paste favorites like Lucy Dacus and Maggie Rogers, as well as Atlanta’s own Deerhunter and Finn Wolfhard’s band, Calpurnia. Check out our whole day below.
Hearing Lucy Dacus perform songs from her 2018 album Historian only solidified my opinion (and Paste’s) that it was one of the best of the year, and perhaps even a modern classic. “Addictions” opened the set, “Night Shift” cut just as deep as usual and “Pillar of Truth” made me weep. Dacus wrote the latter for her paternal grandmother, and her dad also happened to be in the crowd on Sunday afternoon at the Criminal Records stage. She also saved a moment for her mom, playing her beautiful new tune “My Mother & I,” the second in a series of holiday songs. The first was a charged new take on “La Vie En Rose,” which Dacus also played Sunday. Édith Piaf never could have dreamed how much that song can rock. —Ellen Johnson
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Ambrose Kenny-Smith brought his bluesy side project band to the Ponce De Leon stage. The Murlocs released their fourth album Manic Candid Episode earlier this year on ATO Records and Flightless, and it’s denoted by off-kilter and classic psychedelic blues. Kenny-Smith’s distinct voice is a composite of warbling glam and eccentric psych, and his live pipes received a boost from his perky, charismatic and occasionally improvised vocal inflection. With “Uncle Murl” scrolled on the back of his shirt and a wailing harmonica at the ready, Kenny-Smith and his band cruised through new tracks like “Problematic Subject,” “Comfort Zone” and “Spun Gun” with a hypnotic and commanding ease. —Lizzie Manno
With 16-year-old Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard on lead vocals, Calpurnia drew a sizable crowd to their Sunday Shaky Knees set, despite clashing with Phosphorescent—who’s more than double Wolfhard’s age. The young band signed to Royal Mountain Records and released their debut EP, Scout, last year, which was produced by Twin Peaks’ Cadien Lake James. One could cynically smirk at the swift rise of Calpurnia, but the band held their own on a big stage like this one. Sweeping singalongs came from covers of Pixies’ “Where is My Mind,” Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” and The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down”—each performed with a lively spunk. Lead guitarist Ayla Tesler-Mabe’s natural talent for classic rock licks was immediately apparent, and her breezy lead vocals on their EP track “Waves” were effortlessly show-stopping. It may be a bit unfair to judge the potential of a band this young, but if one thing’s for sure, Calpurnia know how to entertain. —Lizzie Manno
Deerhunter were one of a few Atlanta-based bands to appear at Shaky Knees this year, and their set at the Criminal Records stage, perched underneath the trees, contained an intimacy that’s hard to capture at a music festival of any size. Frontman Bradford Cox was in a cheerful mood—chatting in between songs and dedicating some to members of his family who were in attendance. After praising Tim Koh as one of the best sets of the weekend, Cox asked the crowd the same question, to which someone replied “Incubus” and Cox laughed and sarcastically said, “Cool.” The band performed tracks from their new full-length Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared (released earlier this year via 4AD), and the harrowing beauty of songs like “Death in Midsummer” and “No One’s Sleeping” felt all the more communal when surrounded by the all-knowing energy of the trees, which mimic the stark gothic majesty of their new album artwork. —Lizzie Manno
Maggie Rogers was putting out some real Janis Joplin vibes Sunday on the Piedmont stage at Shaky Knees. Not in her sound, per say—her sound was what we’re learning to be the norm for Maggie, carefree and buoyant with insurmountable depth. However, in her look and movement, from her long sandy in-the-face hair and royal blue scarf right down to her groovy sways, Janis felt present in 2019. I like to imagine she was looking down on Maggie fondly that day, proud that today’s women in music are keeping the dream alive. —Annie Black
I first saw Tame Impala at another festival back in 2017, and what was true then is still true now: Kevin Parker and co. are one of the best live shows running. Maybe the Tame Impala act has a reputation for offering little more than vibes and a stoner’s live soundtrack, but that’s just not the case. The show is electric, and Sunday evening’s episode was a wholly captivating exhibition of Tame Impala hits—the existential smack of “Let It Happen,” thoughtful grooves of “Yes I’m Changing” and charged danceability of their biggest hit, “The Less I Know The Better,” which is as fun now as it was upon first listen of Currents in 2015. They left us with the perfect set closer, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Stereotypes may abide, but Tame Impala are so much more than a space out. —Ellen Johnson