Shaky Knees 2015: Day One - The Strokes, Mac DeMarco, TV on the Radio

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Shaky Knees 2015: Day One - The Strokes, Mac DeMarco, TV on the Radio

The first day of Shaky Knees’ third year made it clear that this was the fest’s biggest installment yet. The location was a new one: stages were spread a bit further apart, and the added green space gave attendees much-needed shade in the sweltering Atlanta heat (a welcome forecast after two straight years of wet weather on day one). The Paste staff caught several acts on the stacked lineup: check out recaps below, and take a peek at photographer Mary Caroline Russell’s images from the festival in the gallery above.


Mitski got the good vibes going early at Shaky Knees—though her songs are often raw and emotional, she seemed genuinely appreciative of the crowd that turned out to see her. “This is the one thing that I want to do most in the world, so thank you for letting me do it,” she said, and at one point she offered a special thank you to the people near the stage who had been staking out their spot for about 45 minutes before her set. And there’s a reason so many people showed up early for Mitski: she’s a great talent, and she’ll certainly be playing higher up on festival bills in the near future. —Bonnie Stiernberg


The midday sun was beating down on Central Park when it was time for Tennis’ set, but thankfully the tented Buford Highway stage offered some much-needed shade, and singer Alaina Moore’s smooth, beachy voice made the whole area feel like some sort of glorious oasis. They played tracks from their recent Ritual in Repeat album as well as old favorites like “Marathon,” and the whole thing made for a delightful break from the heat. —Bonnie Stiernberg

Mac DeMarco

There are a few different reasons to enjoy a Mac DeMarco set. One is his persona—funny and laidback, he’s just a strong presence on stage. That was certainly the case on Friday, with DeMarco and his bandmates cracking jokes constantly and busting out an impromptu cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow.” But the other main reason—one that sometimes gets overlooked because his personality is such a part of his live show—is that the music is really, really great. Songs like “Salad Days,” “Let My Baby Stay” and “Cooking Up Something Good” sound timeless live and serve as reminders that for all the cheekiness, DeMarco’s actually extremely talented. —Bonnie Stiernberg

The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats just released a wonderful new record full of songs about wrestling, so it was no surprise when they started their set after blasting an amped up hype man for Ric Flair through the speakers. John Darnielle is one of the best lyricists working, and he can set his heartbreaking tales anywhere, even the wrestling ring. Even though they were going up against TV on the Radio and Death From Above 1979, Atlanta packed out the smallish Buford Highway tent stage to listen to a veteran band who loves to entertain.—Josh Jackson

James Blake

The lighting engineer was the real MVP at James Blake’s early evening set, achieving the seemingly-impossible by giving a well-lit, loosely packed tent full of fest-goers a late-night club vibe. James Blake’s clear vocals were on-point as usual, too, and if the enthusiasm of the modest but devoted crowd was any indicator, Blake only furthered the fandom of those already in his corner. —Dacey Orr

TV on the Radio

“Say hi to the drone, everyone. Hi, drone. We don’t like you.” Frontman Tunde Adebimpe may have been distracted by the unmanned camera flying over the crowd during TV on the Radio’s set, but if he was, you’d never know it. Adebimpe and his band absolutely tore through their performance. It was all fantastic, and when it was time for “Wolf Like Me,” the crowd (predictably) lost its shit. —Bonnie Stiernberg


I first saw the Pixies in 1990 at a small club in Atlanta. I left wondering if any show could top what I’d just seen, and a quarter century later, very few have. So when the band reunited in 2004 and came to the Fox Theatre, I was thrilled to get to see them again. It was another special night, watching Frank Black and Kim Deal play together for a much bigger audience than they did in their heyday, and the crowd was singing along to every word, thankful for a chance to get to see a band that many discovered after they’d broken up. This weekend at Shaky Knees, the Pixies played again, but the magic wasn’t there. The crowd came alive for “that Fight Club song” where they hadn’t for classics like “Wave of Mutilation” or “Here Comes Your Man.” The band was still tight, and I still sang along to some of my all-time favorite songs and sat patiently through the new stuff. But without Kim Deal and in the wake of an atrocious reunion record, it certainly wasn’t the same.—Josh Jackson

The Strokes

It’s been a hot minute since the band played Atlanta—”the unofficial capitol of the South” as they referred to the city from the stage—but The Strokes’ Shaky Knees headlining slot was a must-see for fans from all over as the influential rockers have precious few live dates scheduled this year. They made it count, with highlights including Comedown Machine’s “All The Time” and classics like “Someday” and “Under Control.” Mac DeMarco joined the band for a rousing rendition of “Last Nite” that had the whole crowd jumping up and down belting out the lyrics, and the band closed out the day with an encore of “NYC Cops.” —Dacey Orr

Portugal. The Man (Late Night Show)

One of the hottest late-night tickets was Portugal. The Man’s sold-out set on the Heaven stage at the Masquerade, and it wasn’t hard to tell why once the band walked out just after 12:30 a.m. The crowd was clearly full of fans well-versed in the older material, and the band brought it, spanning back as far as their 2006 EP The Devil Say I, I Say AIR with “The Devil” while churning out more recent hits like “Creep in a T-Shirt” and “Evil Friends.” The light show was astounding—particularly striking to see such a spectacle in a venue that’s generally as dark and dingy as the Masquerade. The band spoke often of how much they love playing Atlanta, and it radiated from their performance. Hey, Portugal. The Man: Atlanta loves you too. —Dacey Orr