Rainbow Kitten Surprise – Day one started off with a bang, as Rainbow Kitten Surprise were the first act we caught during the fifth installment of the Shaky Knees Music Festival. Hailing from just over the mountain in Boone, North Carolina, the five piece sounded very tight, hitting their stride towards the end of their early afternoon set. The listener-friendly rock drew in the crowd and made for an excellent start to the afternoon.
Car Seat Headrest – If they aren’t already setting tables for the big boys (Kings of Leon, The Killers, etc.), they will be very soon. Car Seat Headrest started their set on fire, blasting through such favorites as “Drunk Drivers” and “Fill in the Blank” before settling into the meat of their catalogue. It seems these guys are getting bigger by the day.
The Growlers – Having finally found a home on Julian Casablancas’ label, it’s easy to see The Growlers are finally at home as evidenced by their career-spanning midafternoon set. As they mixed stylings throughout their set, they sort of broke free from their California surf rock identity in the process. But they never went out into left field. Relying heavily on synth, they proved to be transcendent and soulful. Now we know why AC Entertainment brought them to the Mill & Mine earlier this year. The showstopper was William Onyeabor’s “Good Name,” which was a not-so-subtle nod to Pat Mahoney’s work with Atomic Bomb.
Wolf Parade – The band pulled no stops, coming out with three of their finest “bangers,” as the kids might say, and proving that they can still tour off of the retro material. The only unfortunate happening of Wolf Parade’s set was that midway through they lost the bottom sound, making for a very loud and treble-heavy set, which wasn’t ideal.
Twin Peaks – As was a theme with many bands during day one, Twin Peaks changed up their normal pace to a raucous, no-frills rock ‘n’ roll set. Not sure if this was due to cooler temperatures, but Twin Peaks, like many other bands, seemed extra frisky, as evidenced by their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Roses.” The set saw a lot of crowdsurfing and the like, as well, and capped off with a collaboration with members of Cage the Elephant.
Portugal. The Man – These Alaskan indie rockers may sport the worst name in the game, but on day two of Shaky Knees, they hit the stage ready to win over new fans. With various members swapping lead guitar solos throughout their set, P.Tm blew away first time viewers in the early evening crowd by performing several tracks from the 2013 album “Evil Friends.” If you’ve caught the band in a festival setting over the last few years, you could very well be ready for a reboot of the setlist, but with a closing song like (All Your Light (Times Like These)) that includes mini-covers of Ghostface Killah and Black Sabbath, it’s hard to walk away from a Portugal. The Man set with a frown.
Preoccupations – Rocking tunes off of their last two efforts, Preoccupations let it be known that they are a force to be reckoned with. While tunes such as “Bunker Buster” and ” “Continental Shelf” were as good as advertised, the showstopper was a 20-minute rendition of “Death” that was the most alive show closer of the weekend.
Pixies – While the Pixies romped through such classics as “Wave of Mutilation,” “Here Comes Your Man” and “Gauge Away,” their set felt uninspired at times. It seemed as if Frank Black and company were going through the motions early on, although they picked up the tempo midway through and reminded us why the Pixies are legends in the alt-rock game.
LCD Soundsystem – Holy cow, what can be said about the New York City dance-punk darlings’ set on Friday night that would give it justice? A performance for the ages, James Murphy and company steamed through a collection of “hits” from all of their past efforts while debuting a few new songs, as well. One of those fresh numbers, “Call the Police,” already feels like an instant classic. Murphy was the ever-charming maestro as he led the band with aplomb, let the crowd know exactly what he was going to play and hoped that we liked it. Rest assured, the entirety of Centennial Park loved what LCD were giving us, and in turn we converted the park into one huge dance party. If there was any doubt that LCD is a legitimate headliner, that noise was squashed last night with an even greater sound. This will go down as one of the best concerts this old musichead has seen.