At the height of the day's heat, St. Paul and the Broken Bones took the stage in three-piece suits over button-down shirts, creating a picture of old-school charm to go along with their retro soul performances. Vocalist Paul Janeway, in possession of an other-wordly voice, gave new life to several classics, including a pounding cover of The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and asked the audience of they could "take you to church" before playing their own "It's Midnight." With a performance like this one, it's no wonder The Rolling Stones tapped them as openers for their 2015 tour.
Houndmouth's vocalists Matt Myers and Zak Appleby wore tailored navy and dark grey suits, respectively, that captured the vintage feel of the Indiana band. "How does it feel to be at the greatest festival in the world," Myers asked the crowd before reminiscing on the time the band played the festival in 2014. They've released a new album since then. "Sedona," the breezy anthem with the sing-along hook from their 2015 release served as the highlight of the band's set. It was not the only standout moment in the show, however. Halfway through their performance, an attendee threw a bra on the stage. "That's never happened," Appleby said.
Young the Giant
California rock band Young the Giant was certainly one of the more entertaining acts that I saw during the festival. Donning a gold jeweled jacket, lead singer Sameer Gadhia jumped around the stage with an electrifying charisma while breezing through the band's indie rock catalog. During various moments in the set, Gadhia swapped his tambourine for a spot behind a keyboard and straddled the microphone stand while gazing into the crowd. Throughout the hour-long performance, the band's pop hooks and melodic riffs were incredibly refined, but their show never felt predictable. From "It's About Time" to "I Got," Young the Giants' set list spanned their two albums and even touched on one that has yet to be released. Giving fans a taste of what's to come, the band performed "Something to Believe In," from their upcoming album "Home of the Strange," which is scheduled to be released on Aug. 12.
At the Drive-In
Excitement was so high for At the Drive-In's headlining performance -- one of the post-hardcore band's first U.S. performances since their 2001 breakup -- that even vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala seemed impressed: "It's surreal that I can leave my house, get on a plane and people still give a f***, years and years later," he marveled toward the end of an unrelenting set that saw the band playing many songs from their best-known album, 2000's "Relationship of Command," including "Invalid Litter Dept.," which Bixler-Zavala dedicated to "the women out there who don't have a voice," and "One Armed Scissor," the tuneful hard-rocker with which the group ended the show, as well as some older material including "Napoleon Solo."
Bixler-Zavala hasn't lost a bit of his frontman swagger, climbing on the group's drum kit and amps during the hard-charging "Cosmonaut" and flinging the microphone around like a baton, backlit by a collection of colored lights. He even picked up a melodica on a couple of songs, and referenced the band's early days playing Atlanta at the long-shuttered club The Somber Reptile.
Band co-founder Omar Rodriguez-Lopez talked in the past about his lack of enthusiasm for playing the group's old material, but none of that was evident during the set that also featured tight, controlled performances from bassist Paul Hinojos, drummer Tony Hajjar and guitarist Keeley Davis, who played in Sparta and replaced founding member Jim Ward when he left the band earlier this year.
The group announced previously that they're embarking on a world tour and releasing new music. If Sunday night's show is any indication, they're making up for lost time, and then some.
Florence + the Machine
If Florence Welch, lead singer of British band Florence + The Machine, has any reservations about performing since breaking her foot while on tour in 2015, she didn't let it show at Shaky Knees. Backed by a band that included a horn section and harpist, the singer twirled and jumped around the "Peachtree" stage in a sheer yellow dress, performing several songs from the band's latest album "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful." Welch ran barefoot around the stage before joining the camera and lighting crews on risers in the middle of the crowd. She punched the air, flinging her body around as if she was absorbing her own hits. Her movements, much like her music teetered between delicate and violent. In between newer songs such as "Delilah" and "What Kind of Man," the singer performed older hits such as "Dog Days Are Over" and "Cosmic Love." A stripped down version of "Sweet Nothing," Welch's EDM hit with Calvin Harris, showed off the singer's vocal range, while songs such as "Ship to Wreck," displayed her signature vibrato. The singer dedicated "Shake It Out" to "hungover" attendees, noting that she wrote the uplifting anthem and much of the band's other songs while in a similar state.