Shaky Knees 2021 Preview

One-by-one, the big festivals are returning, some moved to the fall, like Atlanta’s Shaky Knees, which had to cancel the 2020 for obvious reasons, but has moved to the...
Shaky Knees 2021 Preview
Shaky Knees 2021 Preview

One-by-one, the big festivals are returning, some moved to the fall, like Atlanta’s Shaky Knees, which had to cancel the 2020 for obvious reasons, but has moved to the weekend October 22nd-24th this year, with another great line-up at Central Park:



Peachtree Stage


Foo Fighters, 8:45 PM – 11:00 PM

For some people, Dave Grohl will always be, first and foremost, the drummer of Nirvana, but he’s forged a massively successful career fronting his own Foo Fighters (QRO photos at a festival) for over twenty-five years now. Along with former Sunny Day Real Estate bassist Nate Mendel, Pat Smear (of iconic punk act The Germs), and Chris Shiflett (QRO photos at a festival), they’re up to record number ten with this year’s Medicine at Midnight (QRO review), 2017’s ambitious Concrete and Gold (QRO review), 2014’s Sonic Highways (QRO review), 2011’s Wasting Light (QRO review), and more.

There has even been pseudo-Nirvana reunions, like Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and Nevermind producer Butch Vig (also of fellow Shaky Knees ’21 performer Garbage – see below) on Wasting, plus Grohl’s documentary & album about their old recording studio, Sound City (QRO album review). Grohl even broke his leg on stage, finished the performance, and toured with his leg in a cast while sitting on a specially made throne. They’re reopening Madison Square Garden (QRO venue review) with its first full-capacity show, and this fall they’ll be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so see them as they headline Shaky Knees.

Foo Fighters

St. Vincent, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

After the one-and-only Annie Clark (QRO interview) made 2007 her break-out year, both as part of The Polyphonic Spree on The Fragile Army (QRO review) and with her own debut as St. Vincent (QRO photos), Marry Me (QRO review), she followed that up with even-better years (QRO spotlight on), gracing festivals (QRO photos at a festival), charming and surprising crowds with winning humor live (QRO live review), and bringing a stable of new songs (QRO live review). Those new songs, like “Laughing With a Mouth of Blood” (QRO video) and “Actor Out of Work” (QRO video) formed into 2009’s Actor (QRO review), which vaunted her into the even bigger time (QRO photos at a festival), including playing Lincoln Center (QRO live review) and other storied concert halls (QRO photos at a festival) & venues (QRO photos at Royal Albert Hall).

Admittedly, 2011’s Strange Mercy (QRO review) wasn’t quite as good, but then she teamed up with the one-and-only David Byrne (QRO photos at a festival together) for 2012’s Love This Giant (QRO review) and the holy St. Vincent (QRO photos) came back with a vengeance in 2014 on St. Vincent (QRO review), including an absolutely stellar live show (QRO photos), with her platinum grey hair and mannequin moves shining outdoors (QRO live review outdoors), at festivals (QRO photos at a festival) and in the Old World (QRO live review in Europe). In 2017 she had the massively seductive MASSEDUCTION (QRO review), and seductive stage show (QRO photos at a 2018 festival), followed by the stripped down seduction of remix album MassEducation (QRO review). And even COVID couldn’t keep St. Vincent down, with the seventies-channeling Daddy’s Home (QRO review), “Pay You Way In Pain” (QRO review), and live show (QRO Daddy’s Home livestream review).

A must-see as she comes to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival).

St. Vincent

Dermot Kennedy, 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Catch the soul-bearing beauty of the impressive new Dermot Kennedy. The Irish singer-songwriter has been promoted by even the likes of countrymen U2. His single “Giants” (QRO review) last year was an ode to what 2020 could have been, with the video (QRO review) seeing him running through the empty COVID streets.

Dermot Kennedy

Noga Erez, 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM

If Feist was launched into stardom by “1,2,3,4” being in an iPod commercial, Tel Aviv’s Noga Erez has done the next generation of that with her “Dance While You Shoot” being in an ad for Apple’s streaming service.

Noga Erez


Peach Tree Rascals, 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM

Glove, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM

Peach Tree Rascals

Piedmont Stage


Mac DeMarco, 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM

Some artists toil in obscurity for years, even decades, but Mac DeMarco (QRO photos at a festival) hit success when he was barely old enough to drink (and loves to party, even on stage – QRO photos). With 2019’s Here Comes the Cowboy & a reputation for wild live shows (QRO photos at a festival), he comes back to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival).

Mac DeMarco

Dominic Fike, 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM

Dominic Fike initially came out of Florida thanks to some songs on SoundCloud, and since then has gone on to work with the likes of Halsey and Brockhampton, headlined a concert series in the video game Fortnite, and even contributed a cover of Paul McCartney’s “The Kiss of Venus” for this year’s McCartney III Imagined.

Dominic Fike

Cults, 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

When Cults (QRO photos) broke out in 2010 with infectious single “We Go Outside”, they’d achieved the near impossible: being famous without anyone knowing anything about them (QRO photos outdoors). Since then, the wall of silence has broken down (QRO photos), with the catchy sixties male/female duo recruiting a band (QRO photos outdoors at a festival), playing South-by-Southwest (QRO photos), and signing to major label Sony for 2011’s Cults (QRO review). But even if you’ve got a face (QRO photos outdoors) to put to the un-Google-able name (QRO photos at a festival), they’re still a hook-laden band (QRO photos at a festival), who come to Shaky Knees behind 2013’s Static (QRO review) and last year’s Hosts (QRO review).


White Reaper, 2:15 PM – 3:00 PM

Giving Shaky Knees a kick in the ass is White Reaper (QRO photos at a festival), coming off of 2017’s oh-so-humble The World’s Best American Band (QRO review) and 2019’s major label debut You Deserve Love.



Ayron Jones, 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM

White Reaper

Ponce de Leon Stage


Jay Electronica, 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM

Jay Electronica (QRO photos at a festival) got attention for his mixtape Act I: Eternal Sunshine way back in 2007, signing to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation while we waited. And waited. And waited. But last year he not only dropped debut studio album A Written Testimony (on March 13th, when everything shut down), but also followed it up with Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn). So, expect a celebration when he can finally do new material live.

Jay Electronica

Ty Segall & Freedom Band, 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM

California’s Ty Segall (QRO photos at a festival) has evolved from his ‘kick in the pants’ early work to a more effortless boot to the fanny these days (QRO photos at a 2021 festival), where he’s been quite prolific, a record about every year such as 2012’s Slaughterhouse (QRO review), 2017’s Ty Segall (QRO review), and many more, not to mention solo albums & team-ups (and doing the theme song for Comedy Central’s post-Daily Show The Opposition with Jordan Klepper).

Ty Segall


Forgivers, 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM

Frankie & The Witch Fingers, 2:15 PM – 3:00 PM

Tejon Street Corn Thieves, 12:45 PM – 1:30 PM

Specialists, 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Frankie & The Witch Fingers

Criminal Records Stage


Black Pistol Fire, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

Check out the raw rock n’ roll of Austin’s Black Pistol Fire (QRO photos at an Austin festival), who return to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival) to set things alight with this year’s Look Alive (QRO review).

Black Pistol Fire


Amigo the Devil, 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Local H, 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Parker Gispert, 1:30 PM – 2:15 PM

Leon of Athens, 12:15 PM – 12:45 PM

Parker Gispert





Peachtree Stage


Run the Jewels, 9:45 PM – 11:00 PM

El-P blew up the Brooklyn rap scene with 2013’s Cancer 4 Cure (QRO review of release party), and brought about his team-up with Killer Mike (QRO photos at a festival) for 2012’s ‘Into the Wild’ tour. Mike & P have deepened that connection (QRO photos at a festival), working together as Run the Jewels (QRO photos at a festival) for four critically acclaimed records, most recently last year’s critically- and commercially-acclaimed Run the Jewels 4. It’s been really enjoyable watching this duo just love life as they get bigger & bigger, as they come to headline Saturday at Shaky Knees (QRO photos headlining a festival).

Run the Jewels

Portugal. The Man, 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM

Shaky Knees draws from very farther up north with Alaska/Portland’s Portugal. The Man (QRO photos at a festival). The rambling grunge outfit garnered new fans with 2007 sophomore release Church Mouth (QRO review), and its unhinged alt-rock (QRO live review), though slipped somewhat since then, even while finally playing Europe (QRO photos at a European festival) and becoming a festival favorite (QRO photos at a festival). Their major label debut In the Mountain In the Cloud (QRO review) was more psych-lite, but they still bring it live (QRO live review), and even went Down Under (QRO photos at a festival) after 2013’s release of follow-up Evil Friends (QRO review), hitting both the festival circuit (QRO photos at a 2013 festival) and live gigs (QRO 2013 live review). They come to Tampa (QRO photos at a festival) touring 2017’s hit Woodstock (QRO review), which has vaunted them in popularity (QRO photos at a 2018 festival) thanks to big, Grammy-winning hit, “Feel It Still”. Now they’re back on the road (QRO photos at a festival just before everything shut down) and returning to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at Shaky Knees ’14).

Portugal. The Man

Garbage, 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM

After Butch Vig produced a little ol’ album called Nevermind, he went on to form Garbage (QRO photos outdoors), who broke out fast & in a huge way in the mid-nineties with hits like “Only Happy When It Rains”, “Queer”, “I Think I’m Paranoid”, and more (QRO photos outdoors). Fronted by frontwoman extraordinaire Shirley Manson, they went on to do theme songs for James Bond & Romeo + Juliet – and played the opening of the Scottish Parliament.

Unfortunately, label issues, health problems, and releasing an album right after 9/11 limited their twenty-first century success, and their hiatus seemed permanent, as Vig went back to producing (winning Grammys for the likes of fellow Shaky Knees ’21 performer Foo Fighters’ Wasting LightQRO review) and Manson joined the cast of FOX’s Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. But the group regrouped (QRO photos at a festival – and FOX cancelled Chronicles) in 2010, and are back & great with 2012’s Not Your Kind of People (QRO review), 2016’s Strange Little Birds (QRO review), and this year’s No Gods No Masters (QRO review).


Mercury Rev, 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM

Indie vets Mercury Rev (QRO photos at a festival) have been going from the neo-psychedelic to avant-pop for decades now.

Mercury Rev


Arlo Parks, 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

Carlie Hanson, 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM

Songs For Kids, 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM

Arlo Parks

Piedmont Stage


Alice Cooper, 8:45 PM – 9:45 PM

While there are many inspired by, and many imitators, no one does it like Alice Cooper (QRO photos). “The Godfather of Shock Rock” emerged from the seventies stew of hard rock, heavy metal, glam, new wave, and even industrial to forge a signature sound – and look (QRO photos). You’re not gonna find greater stagecraft, and classic songs, than Alice Cooper (QRO photos) – “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

Alice Cooper

The Hives, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

‘The’ garage-rock explosion a decade-plus ago gave a lot of ‘The’ bands, including The White Stripes, The Kills, The Vines, and the most energetic of the bunch – The Hives (QRO spotlight on)! The Swedish outfit (QRO interview) have the kind of explosive & fun live (QRO live review) that Jack White only wish he could pull off, with maximum call-and-response & frenetic activity (QRO photos) all around the world (QRO photos in Europe), plus top hats & tails (QRO photos). The Hives (QRO interview) come to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival) after ‘The World’s First World Wide Web Tour’ (QRO livestream review), ready to rock.

The Hives

Larkin Poe, 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

Sisters Megan & Rebecca Lovell form Larkin Poe (QRO photos at a festival), whose blues-country really stand out (slide guitar included), on albums like 2018’s Venom & Faith (QRO review), last year’s Self Made Man (QRO review) and bonus covers record Kindred Spirits (QRO review), so catch the hard-working ladies at Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival).

Larkin Poe


Kennyhoopla, 3:15 PM – 4:00 PM

Neal Francis, 1:45 PM – 2:30 PM

The Alive, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Neal Francis

Ponce de Leon Stage


IDLES, 8:45 PM – 9:45 PM

Bristol’s young punks IDLES (QRO live review) – even if they don’t like that title – have had three widely acclaimed records, 2017’s Brutalism and 2018’s  Joy as an Act of Resistance, and last year’s Ultra Mono, now returning to Shaky Knees for the second time in a row (QRO photos at a festival).


Living Colour, 6:45 PM – 7:45 PM

Embrace the fusion of all kinds of sounds that is Living Colour (QRO photos outdoors), who’ve been mixing heavy metal, hip-hop, jazz, indie rock, funk and more for thirty years (QRO photos at a 2021 festival).

Living Colour

Mammoth WVH, 4:45 PM – 5:45 PM

That “WVH” stands for “Wolfgang Van Halen,” a.k.a. the son of the late, much-missed, guitar god Eddie Van Halen. Wolfgang had previously played in Tremonti and Van Halen itself before his father’s passing, and now is focusing on his own solo project, Mammoth WVH. And no, he won’t play “Panama”…

Mammoth WVH


The Collection, 3:15 PM – 4:00 PM

Geese, 1:45 PM – 2:30 PM

Quinton Brock, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM

Quinton Brock

Criminal Records Stage


Lunar Vacation, 7:45 PM – 8:45 PM


Suki Waterhouse, 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM

Model/actress/fashion entrepreneur Suki Waterhouse also makes music.

Suki Waterhouse

Cloud Nothings, 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM

Dylan Baldi (QRO photos) throws back to music older than he as Cloud Nothings (QRO live review) with 2012’s Attack On Memory (QRO review), 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else (QRO review), 2017’s Life Without Sound (QRO review), and this year’s more mature The Shadow I Remember (QRO review), and brings his power-pop to back to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a festival).

Cloud Nothings

Liza Anne, 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

Georgia’s own Liza Anne (QRO photos at a festival) comes to Shaky Knees behind her fourth full-length alt-folk record, last year’s Bad Vacation.



Kid Sistr, 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM

Liza Anne





Peachtree Stage


The Strokes, 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Back in 2001, The Strokes’ Is This It and “Hard To Explain” basically launched the alternative music revival, starting in Lower East Side before going to Brooklyn, Canada, Sweden, and everywhere else (not to mention drummer Fabrizio Moretti dating Drew Barrymore). However, follow-ups Room On Fire and First Impressions of Earth were way too similar to what the band had broken through with, while countless indie acts had taken advantage of the opening & the internet to make The Strokes (QRO photos at a festival) feel like old hat, and fans say, “Is This It?”. Various members did their own thing, such as solo records from guitarist Albert Hammond, Jr. (QRO solo photos at a festival) and singer Julian Casablancas (QRO solo live review), but didn’t light the world on fire (QRO review of Casablancas solo record), and Barrymore & Moretti broke up, leaving the band something of a forgotten caricature (or, as The Onion so excellently put it in a side headline, ‘Guy from The Strokes accused of looking like guy from The Strokes’).

But maybe that’s what the band needed – no follow-up or solo record could live up to Is This It, and there was enough time that them getting back together for 2011’s Angles (QRO review) practically counted as the first ‘twenty-first century reunion’ (on the lines of the popular eighties & nineties alt-reunions – we need a name for the last decade…). However, 2014 saw them release Comedown Machine (QRO review), which seemed like a ‘last record’, from the chosen name to the band not doing any promotion to it being the final one on their RCA contract. Yet after another round of solo side releases, The Strokes (QRO photos at a festival) came back in great fashion with last year’s Grammy-winning The New Abnormal (QRO review) and killer singles like “Ode To The Mets” (QRO review) and “The Adults Are Talking” (QRO review). When they’re not stumping for the likes of Bernie Sanders (QRO photos playing a Sanders rally), they’re bringing rock back to headline big festivals (QRO photos headlining a big festival), and return to Shaky Knees (QRO photos from Shaky Knees ’15).

The Strokes

Modest Mouse, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Washington State’s Modest Mouse (QRO photos) broke through to mainstream success in 2004 with Good News For People Who Like Bad News, and followed that up by adding Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr for 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (QRO review) – unfortunately, Marr left to join the even younger Cribs and then solo. But they’re still big and great outdoors (QRO photos at a festival), and in 2015 finally put out their first new record since Sank, Strangers To Ourselves (QRO review). They will come back to Shaky Knees behind this year’s great The Golden Casket (QRO review) and single “We Are Between” (QRO review).

Modest Mouse

Orville Peck, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

While it’ll likely be very hot in Atlanta’s Central Park in this global warming extended summer, don’t expect the unknown cowboy Orville Peck (QRO photos at a festival) to take off his signature fringe mask, which has gotten him a ton of attention. So, check out Peck live to see whether or not he’s all mask, no cattle…

Orville Peck

Tennis, 2:45 PM – 3:30 PM

The indie-pop of Denver’s Tennis (QRO photos at a festival) is as cute as the husband-and-wife duo (QRO photos at a festival), most recently on last year’s acclaimed Swimmer.


Joy Oladokun, 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM

Mixing everything from folk to R&B is Joy Oladokun (QRO photos from an 2021 festival), who just this year released In Defense of My Own Happiness.



Songs for Kids – Lowcountry Jukes, 11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Joy Oladokun

Piedmont Stage


Phoebe Bridgers, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Nobody in music has had as good a COVID pandemic as Phoebe Bridgers (QRO photos from just before everything shut down). Bridgers already had critical acclaim with records like Stranger in the Alps (QRO Top Albums of 2017), and a great team-up with Conor Oberst (QRO photos together) as Better Oblivion Community Center (QRO photos) on their 2019 self-titled record (QRO review), plus her supergroup boygenius with Julien Baker & Lucy Dacus.

But last year’s Punisher (QRO review) launched her into the stratosphere. Basically the favorite record by everyone you have a crush on (except for the hilariously self-depreciating Bridgers herself), songs like “I See You” (QRO review), “I Know the End” (QRO review), and “Savior Complex” (QRO review) all broke your heart – if not in-person, than in videos (like the “Savior” one directed by her near-namesake Phoebe Waller-Bridge) on TV (QRO review of “I Know the End” on TV). We all were desperate to see her live, whether in her trademark skeleton onesie in a livestream (QRO livestream review) or in her pajamas from home. So, maybe you didn’t see her when (QRO photos from 2017), but catch her now as her tour (QRO 2021 live review) comes to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at a 2021 festival).

Phoebe Bridgers

O.A.R., 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

While most of the band hails from Rockville (in nearby Maryland), Of a Revolution – abbreviated O.A.R. (QRO photos) – all formed at Ohio State University (QRO photos at an Ohio festival), and have gone on to have a successful career in both the mainstream and jam worlds, including 2016’s career-spanning 20th anniversary compilation XX and latest studio album, 2019’s The Mighty.


Delta Spirit, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Out of San Diego comes the indie-Americana/soul of Delta Spirit (QRO spotlight on), who last year reunited behind What Is There (QRO review), only to see their reunion tour cut down by COVID. But now they (QRO photos at a festival) come back to Shaky Knees (QRO photos at Shaky Knees ’13), now behind There, 2016’s Into the Wide (QRO review), and 2012’s great self-titled record (QRO review). Just watch out for frontman Matthew Vasquez (QRO interview) going crazy (QRO photos going crazy at a festival)…

Delta Spirit


The Brook and The Bluff, 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Bartees Strange, 12:30 PM – 1:15 PM

Bartees Strange

Ponce de Leon Stage


All Them Witches, 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM

All Them Witches are coming down from Nashville to bring their unique stoner/metal/psych/blues blend to Shaky Knees.

All Them Witches

The Aces, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

Draw up the indie-pop of Utah’s The Aces (QRO photos at a festival).

The Aces


The Backseat Lovers, 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Michigander, 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM


Criminal Records Stage


black midi, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

England’s math-rock black midi (QRO photos at a festival) come to Shaky Knees behind May’s Cavalcade.

black midi

Ritt Momney, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Actually from Utah (no Michigan or Massachusetts) is Salt Lake City’s Jack Rutter, a.k.a. Ritt Momney, with last year’s sleeper hit “Put Your Records On”.



The Aubreys, 2:45 PM – 3:30 PM

Lowertown, 1:15 PM – 2:00 PM

Ritt Momney