Shaky Knees Festival: Day Three - Ryan Adams, Tame Impala, Dr. Dog

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Shaky Knees Festival: Day Three - Ryan Adams, Tame Impala, Dr. Dog

Shaky Knees 2015 closed out in a big way, with Ryan Adams and Tame Impala playing memorable sets alongside festival mainstays like Dr. Dog. Check out highlights below, and take a peek at photographer Mary Caroline Russell’s images in the gallery above.

The Both

Part of what makes Aimee Mann and Ted Leo’s collaboration so enjoyable is the obvious rapport these two have, and that was on full display during their midday set on Sunday. Mann teased Leo about his J.R.R. Tolkien fandom, saying how she was hesitant to take “Hummingbird” to him because it sounded “folky, kind of hobbity” to her, but that she now knows he’s a “huge hobbit fan.” Leo corrected her, saying The Hobbit is a children’s book and he’s more into Tolkien’s other work, she dropped a Star Trek reference, and he incredulously said “That’s sci-fi, not fantasy!” It was endearing banter from a pair of extremely talented songwriters, making the sweltering heat worth braving to hear. —Bonnie Stiernberg

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The men of Preservation Hall Jazz Band are titans of New Orleans jazz history, the ur-band venerated above just about all others, especially in the years following Hurricane Katrina as they’ve championed the city’s resurrection. The 8-piece group laid down some thunderous music, vocals especially, that must have carried for miles through the sweltering Sunday afternoon heat. Harmonica dueled with the most dynamic solo trombone performance I’ve ever seen in a live setting, and each song became an epic exploration of the the art form. The set reached its apex with a gorgeous, wholly unexpected instrumental rendition of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” with “vocals” on trumpet and trombone igniting an impromptu crowd sing-along. —Jim Vorel

The Sheepdogs

Saskatoon’s The Sheepdogs laid down a blend of blues rock with occasionally proggy elements; three men on guitars, backed by drums and very nice keys on the electric Nord—it’s what wikipedia apparently dubs “boogie rock.” Regardless, the Canadian band quickly found a good rapport with its audience at the Boulevard Stage, demonstrating some tight two- and three-part harmonies on tracks like “Southern Dreaming.” There’s a very retro, ‘70s rock feel to the band, and sonic moments that invoke the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival or Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” with them equally comfortable in performing bluesy numbers or anthemic rock songs, loudly but cleanly. —Jim Vorel

Best Coast

Best Coast may have surprised a bit by actually having their amps cranked a bit lower on the Piedmont Stage than the preceding Preservation Hall Jazz Band, but it set the tone for a fairly relaxed set, despite the fact that there were four guitars on stage. The band highlighted tracks from their new album California Nights, including “Heaven Sent” and “Fine Without You,” while celebrating the birthday of guitarist Bobb Bruno. The heat may have taken a bit of pep out of their power pop step—vocalist Beth Cosentino sounded a bit out of breath at times while talking to you crowd—but an adoring audience didn’t seem to mind. They performed a mix of mostly lower and mid-tempo songs, showing off the new material that draws on a blend of ‘90s pop punk and their earlier garage rock aesthetic. —Jim Vorel

Diamond Rugs

When the Diamond Rugs hit the stage at 4:45, they announced that this show would be their last in a long time (Ian St. Pe recently quit the Black Lips because he was sick of touring; it’s possible that’s why the Diamond Rugs are taking a break too) and that they intended to go out with a bang. That they did, performing a strong mix of tracks from 2012’s Diamond Rugs as well as their recent Cosmetics, bringing out their wives and children (including John McCauley’s wife Vanessa Carlton and their baby) to wish them a happy Mother’s Day, and bringing out producer Justin Collins to sing a few songs. At one point, Hardy Morris played guitar while sitting atop McCauley’s shoulders, and we were all left thinking that the next Diamond Rugs show can’t come soon enough. —Bonnie Stiernberg

Dr. Dog

“Ladies and gentlemen,” announced festival producer Tim Sweetwood from the stage, in what appeared to be a long women’s nightgown. “Lifelong friends: Dr. Dog!” Sweetwood’s announcement set the tone for the whole set, which generally made the entire crowd feel like lifelong friends of Dr. Dog, too. The band ran through several classics from 2012’s Be The Void—including “That Old Black Hole,” the title track and the recognizable “Lonesome”—along with new favorites like “Broken Heart.” —Dacey Orr

Ryan Adams

If Ryan Adams has a reputation for being difficult, chastising crowd members or critics, none of that was on display at Shaky Knees. He seemed as happy to be there as if it were his first fest, reveling in the opportunity to be in Atlanta, professing his love for the Star Bar, twice giddily recalling that he’d just gotten to meet Dr. Dog, as if they were the Beatles. When he got the five-minute warning, he seemed sad that his time with us was almost up. And we felt the same way. Surrounded by vintage arcade games, an old Dr. Pepper machine and a life-sized stuffed tiger, his crack band plowed through songs from throughout his now-substantial oeuvre, from “New York, New York” to last year’s “Give Me Something Good.” Photographer Danny Clinch joined him on dueling harmonicas at one point, and Adams was clearing having a great time putting on a hell of a rock show with his friends. —Josh Jackson

Tame Impala

There was a lot of confusion this weekend over the fact that Tame Impala was the Sunday-night headliner. Are they really at the “closing festivals” stage of their career already? Why not go with Wilco or Ryan Adams, both of whom—on paper at least—seem like more obvious choices? But Tame Impala proved the skeptics wrong last night, commanding the crowd’s attention and captivating them with their trippy psychedelia. Add to that dreamy, soaring sound a top-notch light show, and you’ve got everything you need for a successful headlining spot. New tracks from the forthcoming Currents sounded just as strong as the hits from their excellent Lonerism, and we’re excited to see these guys in the top-billed spot for years to come. —Bonnie Stiernberg