Great Late-Night Shaky Knees Shows: Wolf Parade and Portugal. The Man

Shaky Knees began hosting a series of late-night shows in 2015. These shows take place at venues all over Atlanta and give fans a chance to experience intimate full/extended sets and production from artists that played otherwise scaled-down sets during the festival. 2017 was no different as Shaky Knees unveiled a stacked lineup of late-night shows including Wolf Parade and Portugal. The Man.

Wolf Parade @ Shaky Knees and Terminal West – 05/12/17

Photo: Wolf Parade Facebook

Canadian indie rockers Wolf Parade performed a daytime set at Shaky Knees on the Peachtree Stage on Friday. I had never heard of Wolf Parade up until a few weeks before the festival and was thoroughly impressed with their festival set. The hour-long set was comprised of a majority of older material including hits like “I’ll Believe In Anything” and “What Did My Lover Say,” as well as two unknown new songs. The band delivered a stellar performance even without a light-show and seeming so small on the massive main stage. I was even more excited knowing that I was going to see them again at Terminal West that night in a much more intimate setting with full production and a complete set.

Terminal West has a capacity of 600 and was converted from a steel and iron foundry built in the early 1900s. We arrived at the venue around 12:15 am just as the opener, Cymbals Eat Guitars, was finishing. We managed to sneak up to the very front where I was able to take some amazing photos and videos. Wolf Parade took the stage around 1:00 am. Maybe it was due to sheer proximity, but the band seemed to perform with even more energy than earlier in the day. Guitarist/vocalist Dan Boeckner was constantly in motion, continuously thanking the crowd, and often sported a smile when he wasn’t singing his heart out or wailing on his guitar.

Keyboardist/vocalist Spencer Krug exhibited the same enthusiasm and energy as he plugged away at his keyboard. Bassist Dante DeCaro played bass, sang back-up vocals, and played keyboards while drummer Arlen Thompson rapidly beat the drums with all four limbs.

No longer constrained by their festival time slot, the band was able to venture into several extended jams and better showcase each member’s skill. The setlist was almost identical to that of the earlier show with the addition of several songs and an awesome light show. Wolf Parade ended their set around 2:20 am with an encore of “Dinner Bells” from their 2003 self-titled album, about which they proclaimed: “We haven’t played this in a long time.” With new music in the works and more tour dates to come, we highly recommend that you check out Wolf Parade.

Portugal. The Man @ Shaky Knees & Terminal West – 05/12/17 & 05/13/17

Photo: Portugal. The Man Facebook

Portland-based psychedelic indie rockers Portugal. The Man performed at Shaky Knees Friday afternoon on the Peachtree Stage. It is important to know that I have an extreme bias in favor of this band to the extent that I traveled to Colorado from Florida last July to see them perform back-to-back nights at the Fox Theater in Boulder and Red Rocks Amphitheater. I rank them in my top three live performing acts along with Tool and The Revivalists and have seen the band 13 (now 15) times since the release of 2013’s Evil Friends.

The set started about 15 minutes late due to what appeared to be technical difficulties. This year’s Shaky Knees schedule only allowed for 30 minutes of set-up time between bands and resulted in several bands starting later than scheduled, including Bleachers and Phoenix. Regardless of the delay, the crowd roared in excitement when the band members took the stage and opened with the irresistibly catchy “Purple, Yellow, Red, and Blue.” They played an energetic set complete with colored smoke canisters that covered the stage and filled the air with a smell reminiscent of smoke bombs from my childhood. The set was comprised of older material and their new single “Feel It Still” from the upcoming album Woodstock. The show ended much more promptly than it began, but I knew there was much more to come at Terminal West the following night.

Saturday’s late night show sold out almost immediately upon going on sale. I decided to completely skip The XX’s headlining set at the festival in order to make it to Terminal West to stand in line and get a great spot for the show. I made it to the venue just after 10:00 pm and was excited to see only seven other fans in line. I ended up getting the perfect spot dead center on the front rail. Mariachi El Bronx, the alter ego of Los Angeles hardcore punk band The Bronx, opened the show at 11:45 pm with their unique style of mariachi music and authentic mariachi uniforms. I couldn’t help but think it was just a parody at first but was quickly impressed and remained entertained throughout the set. Mariachi El Bronx played for about 45 minutes, and Portugal. The Man took the stage around 1:00 am.

They opened with “Creep In a T-Shirt,” and a projector located directly in front of me began projecting lead singer John Gourley‘s artwork and other psychedelic visuals, many of which were dark and grotesque in nature. Members of the band were positioned on either side of the projector screen making it the focal point of the concert. No two songs’ visuals were ever the same, and it was difficult not getting entranced by the images. John Gourley was cast in shadow for much of the concert but would occasionally break away from the mic stand and step into the path of the projector to make for some awesome solo visuals as the images from the projector were cast over his form.

Bassist Zach Carothers‘ performance was one of the most energetic as he stomped, swayed, and sang while slapping his bass guitar and drinking from a bottle of Jameson.  Drummer Jason Sechrist was partially engulfed by the  projections, and his facial expressions were that of a man putting every ounce of his energy into his craft. Keyboardist Kyle O’Quin exhibited that same dedication and often sang along while smashing the keys. Guitarist Eric Howk, the newest member of the band, was left paralyzed from the waist down after an accident in 2007 but refused to give up his passion and remains a force to be reckoned with on the guitar.

A guest harmonica player joined the band for several songs, including “People Say” from 2009’s Satanic Satanist and “Holy Roller.” Two members of Mariachi El Bronx were also invited onstage and played trumpets during “Feel It Still.” This was revealed to be a spur-of-the-moment decision, and their addition complemented the song well. Their setlist was well-rounded and spanned their discography as far back as 2008’s Censored Colors with “And I.” They even played an unreleased new song from the upcoming album called Rich Friends. Portugal. The Man played for an hour and a half and ended their set around 2:30 am after an extended jam-infused encore of “Atomic Man.” 

Overall, the show was everything that I could have asked for and more. The visuals were remarkable, the music sounded great, and the intimate setting of Terminal West was perfect. I filmed almost the entire concert and will be sure to post the videos to YouTube for fellow fans to enjoy. With their growing popularity and Woodstock that came out on June 16th, Portugal. The Man will continue to shine.

Written By: Evan Turner