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Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 5/11/24

Photo: Stephanie Heath

With acts like Weezer, Sunny Day Real Estate, Dinosaur Jr, and Foo Fighters,

this year’s Shaky Knees spoke to my Gen X heart.  

New Band highlight 

Something we’re highlighting this Shaky Knees beyond the stout 90’s band line-up are the new bands that we catch. On Friday, the first one is Ax and the Hatchetmen, a young indie 7-piece out of Chicago with tons of energetic big band sound, funky, rocky, and beachy all rolled into one fun time. I felt it was a mix of Cage the Elephant-esque, the strokes, and a hint of Ween. A great show where they ended the set with The Strokes, “Last Night.”  

Another band that we hadn’t seen is and enjoyed is Late Night Drive Home out of Texas. The lead singer, Andre Patillo, came out with a red mask on that had frills at the bottom. They’re a blend of punk, rock, 90s with swelling choruses. But they also play a wide variety of rock sounds including 90’s reverb. We loved they sang Blur, “Song No. 2.” to end the set. I love that song! 

Next up on Saturday, was two bands: Microwave and Dead Poets Society. Microwave is out of Atlanta, which I didn’t know, and has a variety of sounds from loud, hard rock to 90’s fast slow, and then some punk. The other was Dead Poet’s Society out of Boston that had hard riffs that reminded me of Rob/White Zombie up front, thrash, but then the vocals come in softer and higher for a fun mix of sounds.  

Then, finally on Sunday, we caught a newer band we had not heard of until the festival, Arcy Drive. They are out of New York with a mash-up of varieties of sounds like indie, 90s fast slow, two-step, and singsong talking and singing mix. Not all at the same time, for example one song would be songs that are softer almost ballad-like that erupt into heavy guitar for the chorus. Then, the next song would be a rock song with more of a southern twang and have some two-step influence. I enjoyed lead singer Nick Mateyunas’ voice, it is smooth yet gritty. The one we really like is called Wicked Styley, which is the one they started with. It is a fun upbeat rock song with lots of 90’s influence and reverb. 

Top 5 Favorite Artist Moments  

5. Finally hearing “Seven” live from Sunny Day Real Estate 

4. Billy Idol throwing shirt into crowd 

3. Dead Poets Society lead singer, Jack Underkofler, fell into the crowd and crowd surfed while singing one of the first songs.   

2. Dinosaur Jr embracing the downpour. Putting on the best show despite the rain coming down so hard it caused a flood! Bravo! Plus, they covered The Cure!  

1. Ax and the Hatchetmen. A genius way to get people to listen to your new song is to hand out water with a QR code to your song on the side. They even named it HatchetWater. Love. 

Our two favorite performances 

The Downpour. About 5 minutes before Dinosaur Jr. went on the Ponce De Leon stage, the skies opened, and a torrential downpour started and lasted for almost the entire set. People were caught in the rain, and it was so much that even us with ponchos got soaked. Especially our feet in ankle deep water near the front of the stage flowing into the crowd. No one seemed to mind too much, and it electrified the audience. John quipped at one point, “it’s like we’re back in the 90’s.” And he was right, the energy from the crowd was noticeably high! They even broke out into mosh pits and a sea of crowd surfers dotted the front. It was a sight to behold! Plus, the music had a lot to do with the mood! If you don’t know Dinosaur Jr, they are what I call hard skate rock. Something I imagine skaters on their boards would listen to in their ear buds. Songs like “Feel the Pain” and “Over It” are melodious with heavy guitar and just plain fun. Plus, the covered The Cure, “Just Like Heaven.” It was a great show. 

That brings us to Sunny Day Real Estate. They are one of those 90’s bands that I just got introduced to by John a few years ago and we started watching their videos on YouTube. I call them the quintessential fast slow early 90’s band. Melodious verses and vocals erupt into a barrage of heavy guitar and pounding drums, Sunny Day Real Estate satisfies song after song. This performance was just that, song after song, humming along as they played the entire Diary album for its 30th anniversary. It was AMAZING. Plus, we found out that 90’s band Super chunk members were also playing with them. It’s almost like a super group! 

90’s band extravaganza at this year’s Shaky Knees 

Our favorite of the bands we know is Metric out of Canada. A band that played on 99x back in the day, and that I know probably 5 songs from was thoroughly enjoyable. Emily Haines, the lead singer, came out in a bright red shinny body suit. If you know Metric, they are heavy on electronic and keyboard, yet rock and 80s infused. Reminiscent of Garbage to me, “Help I’m Alive,” was the highlight for me. I hadn’t heard it live and it was my favorite of their music then and now. 

Unfortunately, we had to miss Offspring because we had never seen Sunny Day Real Estate and we’re going to spend time with a band that we hadn’t seen. We love Offspring, I saw them back in 1994 for the Smash tour and several times over the years including the last time they were at the Tabernacle. I heard they did an incredible show.  

Have you ever found yourself driving too fast on the interstate? You might have been listening to Queens of the Stone Age. What I call fast driving music, Queens of the Stone Age are very drum forward with deep and heavy beats, beautiful guitar riffs and Josh Homme’s great voice. Plus, they visually never disappoint, this year with roaming light show. Last time we saw them they had a large video board with LED visuals that really went well with the music. Did you know Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) also did the drums on “No One Knows” which you can tell by the drums! But my favorite of their songs after last night is “Go with the flow.” I always liked it but realized it is more diverse musically than some of the others.   

My boyfriend back in 1994 gave me a non-descript bright blue album as a present. Little did I know that that album would be in my top 5 all-time records, and Weezer would cement themselves into rock god status in my life. I’ve seen Weezer over the years from them playing large festivals to arenas to a small stage at the Braves stadium and they always sound perfect. What I call garage or college rock, Weezer has a distinct sound that no one else can create and that sets them apart from some of the other 90’s bands, don’t get me wrong, I love most early 90’s bands! The underlying hum of the guitars, explosions of rock juxtaposing the smoothness or River’s voice, it all comes together completely. What I love about them live is they really play up the guitar and show their musical prowess, plus, visually, they always have their W front and center. If you’ve never seen them live, you must; it is an experience.    

I’m just going to come right out and say it, we left before Foo Fighters. We’d seen them before, and the weather had made the main stage too muddy. Plus, we had stood in ankle high water for an hour, so our feet were wet, and we had a long weekend. We will catch them next time.   

Billy Idol 

After our Dinosaur Jr. experience, we headed back over to see Billy Idol and found the main stage to be a mud bog. People without shoes dancing in the sprinkles, drenched friends with smiles on their faces. We saw him back in 2015 during Music Midtown and his show has always been top notch! Billy Idol is always a good time singing greats like White Wedding, Rebel Yell, and Cradle of Love that anyone will sing and dance with. Visually, he had some fun LED graphics and seems to have not aged a bit and still sounds good live! He even took his Billy Idol shirt off and threw it in the crowd.   

Around the Festival 

It wouldn’t be a large music festival without festival polls, our favorite was the blown-up stick of butter. Plus, we were blown away by the food court with some great Atlanta and regional restaurants like Hattie Bs. Finally, we experienced a cool activation, Liquid Death Country Club. It was an actual small house with grim reapers guarding the entrance where you can “sell your soul” to get some water inside. You can also get free water with a whole in one on their golf green and airbrushed tattoos inside. It is much fun and on brand for Shaky Knees. 

What was your favorite part of Shaky Knees?