Shaky Knees–Day Two

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This being Saturday and the initial enthusiasm of a three day music festival behind us, it made sense to arrive a little later, settling for “less” in terms of the quantity of the bands.  We parked at the Ponce City Market and once again toted our Crowlers from The Tap on Ponce.   Here’s a hint, if you don’t like to pay for a $9 for a mass market “craft” beer, buy it elsewhere, bring it with you, and drink just outside the entrance to the festival. 

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Once inside, while others might race to the beer, my son and I raced to one of two free H20 stations, neither exactly conspicuous, but not overwhelmed with demand either.  Another hint borne from a fledgling two days at the festival:  Long line?  There may be taps on both sides.  My previous festival concert having provided a good lesson, hydration is important…

So, where do you draw the line between fledgling artists and those you’ve heard, or at least heard of, before?  Well, word of mouth can reign supreme, and that was the case this day with sufficient friends and acquaintances recommending Greta Van Fleet, a band name not likely to roll off the tongue.  This is the kind of advice that comes from, not hypothetically, a stranger at SingleCut brewery – AND the bartender, as well as a host of people wearing band logo T-shirts – not at all uncommon generally, but definitely so for a very, very young band.  If I were to say they were formed in 2012, you’d say – “good, they’ve matured and possibly worth watching by now if they’ve stayed together that long.”  Maybe you’re right. 

Regardless of others’ recommendations, if you hear the lead singer and guitarist are twin brothers – now 22 years old – and the bassist is a younger brother at the ripe age of 19, you may think it’s just another teenage wasteland…  Hanson, the Kings of Leon or similar dreck.  Greta Van Fleet’s future is uncertain, man… they are worth the price of admission today.  Imagine a young Robert Plant.

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Not visually.   More specifically, imagine the guy in the center with a young Robert Plant’s voice.  If you have Spotify or another music service, try “Safari Song,” “Highway Tune,” “Black Smoke Rising,” or “Meet on the Ledge,” – the last covers and blows away the Fairport Convention song and suggests that GVF may not be a one trick pony, despite the studied posturing of its singer.   

Well, it’s a group project, and everything depends on what they do next.   The Led Zep approach has given them the stage; we’ll see how long the can keep it.   The clip below is worth it.


Circa Survive.  I liked what I had heard online before the festival.  Hard rock, mixed with a variety of influences, but sadly led by a singer who lacking an adequate vocabulary, uses the “F” not for effect but for filler to get him through dialogues with the audience between songs. 

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From there, it was a short walk to catch Jacob Banks, an English singer who is much more compelling on record than live. 

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So we ventured from this disappointment to see The Distillers, a punk-rock band from Australia, recently reunited and touring.  Plenty of people loved them. I hadn’t heard of them, and if I don’t again, that’s okay.  That’s the thing about music – there’s an audience for about everything.

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Food trucks.  I enjoy trying them; I don’t always enjoy their food.  My son and I ended up at the The Pickle, which had a very tasty grilled chicken and green chile enchilada.  I ordered the crispy fish tacos to share between us.  This turned out to be a welcome rest while watching everyone else walk back and forth, something that, if not an obligatory thing to do, becomes a necessary thing to do.

Which brings me to tattoos.  I’m interested, but not in getting one.  Given all the phrases, symbols, icons, etc. to choose from, the what and why for permanent body art are interesting questions.  I recall a female bartender who had a Persian tale recorded on both of her arms, and she could recount the tale while pointing out the people and places.  Her heritage meant a lot to her, and she found a meaningful way to bring it close.  I have to say, the tattoos in sight throughout this festival seemed likely to be of the variety favored by drunks visiting a Tattoo 101 class with a “Buy one get one free” policy.   

We, literally had a passing interest in Atlanta’s own Manchester Orchestra, a band that I really ought to listen to more, but opted to find a place on a hill where a sore back and feet could find rest. 

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This was good, because The War on Drugs was worth getting close, a band I had seen twice before and am prepared to see twice again.  It’s essentially one person, singer/guitarist Adam Granduciel, surrounded by musicians who do what they’re told.  It’s a formula sound.  The songs build, the guitar soars, and the brass makes it sublime, even if the vocals are hard to follow.  This is a band that anyone could enjoy listening to, with or without any comprehension of the lyrics.

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Time to rest again.  Hey, about that band, Cake?  We caught a few songs before returning to the hillside.  I didn’t need to see them play their hit “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.”  Hearing it was enough.

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Which brings us to Queens of the Stone Age, the day’s closer.  Not wanting to stand, but with my son intent on staying for the duration, we sat at the bottom of an embankment to the back and side.  This wasn’t ideal, per se.  It had rained briefly during Lord Huron, and the ground was wet.  No problem.  Having learned from Day One, I had brought a blanket.  However, a blanket does not stop a tumbling jug of water or (fairly overweight) people trying to descend the slope, twice into us and often into others. Humorous moment – three ladies trying to run up the incline and failing, yet trying again to a voice encouraging “Come on!  There’s whiskey at the top!”  They made it.

I’m not a fan of Queens of the Stone Age.  My son somehow grew up and became a fan without me knowing it.  It’s not surprising, as I think he learned about everything he knows overnight while his mom and I slept.  In any case, this was a pretty good performance.  He said they played most of the songs that mattered; I recognized one, “No One Knows,” and the others were decent. One photo below is from a coworker, who was close in; the second from me, zooming in from a farther distance with my trusty Canon G-16.  If you don’t love the music, it’s at least fun trying to time a shutter with a light show…

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