Shaky Knees–Day Three

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It probably sucks to be scheduled in the early hours on Day Three of a festival, though presumably money is involved.  Attendees are burnt out after two full days and are more likely to “sleep in” before arriving, if at all.  Smaller crowds, less opportunity to gain new fans.  This is unfortunate, because it doesn’t mean that the artists are worse than those featured later, just newer or less well known.  In fact, it was a similar time-slot that my concert buddy and I discovered Aaron Lee Tasjan last summer.

But we weren’t finding a new band this day.  There was the whole getting up thing, showering, eating lunch, driving an hour to get there, parking, walking a hilly mile to the venue and… a 4:00 start for Lord Huron sounded just fine.  They are one of those bands you’ve probably heard on the radio in a restaurant but found it too loud to decipher who it was with your favorite listening app, while noting they sounded different from the usual goo.  

I’ve seen Lord Huron before, and they were probably better this time around.  They mixed in some of their newer songs which didn’t distract at all from their more familiar songs, the new ones adding a recently discovered driving bass and a little electric punch to their mostly acoustic and heavily reverbed sound.  I’m a fan, and I may be motivated to write a CD review of their latest release once I get hold of their lyrics, which previously  was a joy. Live, their expanded band and a female backup singer worked great to present their songs.

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From there it was off to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, unfortunately appearing at the “Ponce de Leon” stage, covered by a metal shed which, while providing shade for their “creatures of the night” persona, also flattened their sonics.  They’re a band with many good songs scattered over the the past 17 years, enough that there is really no chaff during their shows.  Still, they hadn’t played “American X” their last two trips to town, and they let me down yet again.   Also, listening to this band when it’s sunny outside just doesn’t work, live or recorded...  Would Sinatra sing his “saloon” songs on an outdoor stage during the day?  I think not.  Different generation and music, but, same thing.

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I know I haven’t listened to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats to give them a fair evaluation, and I didn’t once again even with the chance to see them live.  They didn’t sound bad; they just fill a niche that skipped me, if not my generation.  

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There is no formal break between shows, so skipping Rateliff also provided an opening for another fantastic green chile enchilada, a satisfying drink of reasonably cool water (I live on the edge), and a hillside to people watch.  A new strategy came to mind.  Amid the cool breezes and the occasional dust storms stirred from the nearby Piedmont stage, there were those who were observed to relaxing on the same hillside not on dirt, packed grass or roots, but in comfort.  Hmm.


I had seen this or something similar in a Kickstarter fundraiser a couple of years ago and thought it pretty clever.  It’s actually the same method used for dry storage bags in kayaks, though hopefully with a lighter weight material.  But as a single lounger or couch for two, I have to admire the compact simplicity employed by an appreciable number taking in the festival more restfully .  As I don’t actually need to “see” many of the bands, positioning one of these babies between two stages, listening to whichever one is active and enjoying a cool beverage could be just the thing.  In the context of the moment, a WindPouch might have even invited me to take a nap, given Vance Joy’s ho-hum set soothing me into sleep.  The young ladies seemed to swoon like him, though.

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After sitting on the roots for a time, the bones are ready for Tenacious D, a parody of a heavy metal band (dubbed “mockrock”) that if they took themselves seriously enough, might… well, no, they never will, and that’s okay.  They’re fun, know how to appeal to the Meat Loaf-gone-mad in all of us, and can improvise wildly.  They also have a legion of fans who know their songs word for word.  The whole show seems fairly effortless when your band leader is none other than actor Jack Black.

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It being a work night prior to an early morning flight out of town, I passed on Day Three closer, The National.  Passed right by, too, with my son, none the worse after hearing bits of their first two monotonous songs in the process.  I paused just long enough to capture my final high quality stage shot before walking the long mile back to the car.

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Overall, great venue, value and weather.  If they schedule a reasonably interesting line-up next year, I’ll be back.

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