We’ve already gone through and told you all about each of our favorite acts for every day of this year’s Shaky Knees Music Festival in downtown Atlanta next weekend (May 9 -11), but being a Nashville based blog, we thought it might be nice to talk about our favorite local acts. While we tried to highlight each of these acts in our day-by-day breakdown of the festival, we’ve compiled below the best Nashville based acts. That way, when you’re down in Atlanta next weekend, you can get a little taste of home.
@ Boulevard Stage | Sunday | 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM
First up, we’ve got Nashville-by-Mississippi rockers The Weeks. Besides the fact that the band features a set of twins who even got the same tattoos, the Weeks should stand out for you as one of the most popular indie rock acts around these parts. The group has played Live on the Green and had multiple shows at just about every venue around town, so you might have even seen the group before. Their most recent release, Dear Bo Jackson, has garnered the group a good bit of positive critical reception, which will hopefully propel this quartet’s career even further. Check out “Brother In The Night”, the lead single from Dear Bo Jackson, below.
THE KOPECKY FAMILY BAND
@ Boulevard Stage | Sunday | 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM
The Kopecky Family Band is one of those band that, first and foremost, are trying to have a great time. Their well developed sense of fun makes its way into their music, which is often features lots of optimistic whistling. Of course, the group isn’t entirely happy-go-lucky; they do have their fair share of tender moments (check out the delicate beauty on the track “Change”). However, the group is clearly most comfortable playing engaging, upbeat indie rock/pop, as evidenced in the video below for “Hope”. We’ve seen these guys a number of times since their inception back in 2007 and enjoyed it each and every time, and you better believe that’s our plans for Shaky Knees.
THE APACHE RELAY
@ Peachtree Stage | Saturday | 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM
One of the most interesting musical trends we’ve noticed in the last few years around here is a return to roots sound. All of sudden, groups are really making an effort to inject that Southern tinge into their songs, which gives them a distinctly Nashvillian sound. There probably aren’t too many groups who do this better than The Apache Relay. Currently a six piece, the Apache Relay have been playing together since 2009. In that time, they’ve scored a number of very desirable gigs, including opening for Mumford and Sons. The group’s gritty rock sound is nicely balanced by smooth vocals and a generous helping of organ, and they fit nicely into the bill at Shaky Knees this year.
FLY GOLDEN EAGLE
@ Ponce De Leon Stage | Saturday | 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM
Unlike the other Nashville acts we’ve discussed so far, Fly Golden Eagle wholeheartedly embraces electronic influences and instruments when crafting their sound. They still play a rock/pop blend (everyone at Shaky Knees does, for the most part), but the four piece likes to work in some electro-funk influences. This often draws comparisons between them and The Shakes, to give you a frame of reference. The group currently has one album out, Swagger, and have announced that a second album has been finished and will be released soon. We caught them playing some of the new tracks from that second album during their set at Record Store day, so, if you’re a fan, we highly encourage you to hang with them at Shaky Knees to hear some of the new tunes.
CLEAR PLASTIC MASKS
@ The Hell Stage at the Masquerade | Friday | 11:30 PM – 12:15 AM
Clear Plastic Masks work extensively with the infamous record label Serpents and Snakes (which was founded by Kings of Leon), so you know what to expect: rocking tunes, purposely strained vocals, and a healthy dosage of distortion. Fortunately, Clear Plastic Masks deliver on all these fronts with their well written and very dynamic tunes. The four piece formed back in 2011 and has toured extensively since their inception, which means that their stage presence will nicely match the raw energy of their tunes. All in all, these guys play some really tight rock and know how to throw down when need be. Check out the video for “Baby Come On” below and see what you think.
@ The Vinyl at Centerstage | Saturday | 11:30 PM – 12:15 AM
There aren’t too many artists out there that can boast the level of sincerity that Andrew Combs can. This singer-songwriter uses brutally direct lyrics and an equally honest voice to achieve a sound that can only be described as genuine. It’s pretty obvious when you’re listening to Combs that this is exactly the type of music he enjoys playing, and despite the often somber nature of his tracks, he definitely seems to enjoy himself when given the chance to play live. This talented songwriter is definitely deserving of your listen, and if you’ll be down in Atlanta next weekend, you should check him out there too.
@ Piedmont Stage | Sunday | 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM
Originally hailing from Alabama, esteemed songwriter Jason Isbell has since relocated to Nashville, and we couldn’t be happier to have him here in Music City. While Isbell’s solo career has been booming recently, many readers might also be familiar with his work with Drive-By Truckers, for whom he sung and played guitar from 2001 through 2007. Since the split with Drive-By Truckers, Isbell has recorded four studio albums with his new band, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The most recent of these records, Southeastern, has earned a slew of very positive reviews from across the music industry, but the record might be matched by Isbell’s stellar live show. All in all, there’s little doubt that Isbell is one of the strongest forces in the Southern singer-songwriter movement, and even littler uncertainty about the fact that he’ll absolutely kill it at Shaky Knees.
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
@ Peachtree Stage | Friday | 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Much like Jason Isbell, Cage the Elephant is a transplant here in Nashville. While the band was originally formed in nearby Bowling Green, several of the members have since moved here, and the band has quite a strong connection to Music City. Chances are you’ve probably heard of Cage the Elephant before, as they’re one of the most popular indie rock acts on the circuit right now, but if you haven’t, the group formed back in 2006 out of the fragments of the act Perfect Confusion. The group was musically similar, and just a year later they managed to score a spot at SXSW. This would earn them not only a record contract, but also a chance to move to the UK, where the band lived for awhile. While overseas, the band put out their eponymous debut, which was quite successful. Since then, the band has recorded two albums (Thank You, Happy Birthday and Melophobia) and visited just about every city imaginable to play their tunes. This group obviously has a ton of experience playing live, and we imagine their Shaky Knees performance will nicely reflect this.
@ Ponce De Leon Stage | Friday | 2:15 PM – 3:00 PM
The Whigs are one of those rock bands that make it seem like everything has gone exactly according to plan. Sure, it took years and years of hard work, but the band has played just about every festival, made appearances on a number of different talk shows, and basically just lived the “lives of rock stars.” Sonically, this trio plays a blues-rock sound that displays their Nashville-by-Georgia roots quite prominently. What’s probably most surprising is the fullness of sound, which portrays the illusion that far more than simply three musicians are playing. If you’re interested in getting a more in-depth look at the Whigs, why not check out our exclusive interview with singer/guitarist Parker Gispert?
@ Terminal West | Saturday | 11:30 PM – 12:15 AM
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got singer-songwriter John Paul Roney, aka Boom Forest. While the label singer-songwriter might make you think you know what Roney’s tunes sound like, we assure you that this is something quite different indeed. Roney croons with a whispery voice over a constantly shifting acoustic instrumentation in an attempt to capture the exact tonality he desires in each and every song. It’s an admirable effort, and to be honest he’s quite successful in the endeavor. The result is some very honest tunes that will definitely cause listeners to take a moment to reflect on themselves. This is really the power behind Boom Forest: it’s a totally genuine musical representation of the human spirit, which makes it almost universally appealing.
Shaky Knees Music Festival takes place in Atlanta’s Atlantic Station May 9th – 11th, and tickets are still available here.