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About 6 months ago I heard about Hangout Festival on Lightning 100, a local Nashville radio station and instantly wanted to go. The line up was incredible, and I was especially excited to surprise my husband with the chance to see one of his favorite bands (that he’d never seen before!), Modest Mouse.

Unfortunately, Hangout Fest was the same weekend my cousin & my best friend were both getting married… so my schedule was quite full. Needless to say, there was NO way we were making it to Gulf Shores that weekend.

Slightly bummed, I decided to get creative and see if Modest Mouse was showing up anywhere else this summer. Turns out they’d be four short hours away in Atlanta at a festival called Shaky Knees. The festival ran May 9th through May 11th and was being held at Atlantic Station (near the Atlanta Ikea). The line up was pretty stacked, so we bought tickets and at $169 for a 3-day pass, I’d say it was an excellent deal.

Here’s the breakdown of my experience at Shaky Knees 2014…

Let’s talk music: The National, Modest Mouse & Alabama Shakes were the closing act (each night, respectively). Other power players include: The Lone Bellow, Lord Huron, Portugal. the Man, Conor Oberst, Spoon, Cage the Elephant, Dawes, Wild Belle, Gregory Alan Isakov, Band of Skulls, Cold War Kids, Gaslight Anthem, Iron & Wine, Airborne Toxic Event & a whole lot more. My favorites: Lone Bellow (if you’ve seen them before, you know why!), Dawes & Spoon (talk about a FUN SET!).

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The Lone Bellow on day 2 at the Ponce De Leon Stage.

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Spoon on day 2 at the Peachtree Stage.

Let’s talk setup: When I hear the festival was in Atlantic Station, I had no idea where it would actually be. If you haven’t been, Atlantic Station is a nice, outdoor shopping area with vendors like West Elm, H&M, Gap & California Pizza Kitchen…. not exactly screaming “music festival,” however, I really liked the set up. There are four stages, two East and two West, and only one per side playing at the same time with never more than two bands playing simultaneously. And even when two bands you wanted to see were both playing, it only took 2 minutes to walk back and forth to the stages…. but sonically, you couldn’t hear the other.

The acoustics were AMAZING. There was no sound floating into space (as my experience has been in open fields or the desert…), it was contained and preserved for your listening pleasure. My husband (a former tour manager) was convinced they were using the highest quality sound equipment available, and it definitely showed!

Let’s talk perks: This particular weekend it happened to rain a LOT. I’ll say I was glad I wasn’t at Bonaroo, because pavement is a lot easier to deal with in the rain. When it started pouring around dinnertime, everyone escaped to restaurants in Atlantic Station to dry off and get their energy back up for the closing act. All of the vendors were offering discounts & were welcoming to the soaked, tired festival patrons. Another perk for those of you who are weary about camping & festivals, there is no camping option here. There are, however, several hotels within 1 mile. We stayed at one about 1.3 miles away and walked to and from the festival. The entire festival was really organized and user friendly.

Overall, we really enjoyed Shaky Knees. It will be on my radar for next year as a must-go. I would especially recommend this to someone who is hesitant to try a festival for whatever reason; this would be a great way to get your feet wet.

Renee Cutaia


The last few weeks have been super busy, as you may have noticed from the complete dearth of posts over the month of March. Between hosting house shows, setting up a dozen more for the coming months, starting a new job and doing another on the side, the juggling and switching of hats left Cause A Scene on the back burner for a while. An album that has been by my side guiding me along through the ebbs and flows of life, however, has been Deep Sea Diver‘s “History Speaks”. I am constantly moving on from one album to the next, but my favorite-Seattle-band-of-the-moment has grabbed a hold of me and refused to let go.

Fronting the band is a name you might not be familiar with but who has played alongside some of the biggest names in indie music: Jessica Dobson. Throughout the years she’s played with Conor Oberst, The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Beck (need I say more?) and you can catch just a little bit of their influences throughout the album, but Deep Sea Diver and this album are far from copycats. This is an album that stands completely on its own and separates itself from the crowd, mostly because of the sheer magnetism of Dobson’s voice that is an instrument all its own.

Just like my life has been lately, there is quite a bit going on throughout the course of the album’s nine tracks, but it’s Dobson’s voice that carries each track along and is able to cut through all the background noise like a knife through a perfectly-cooked filet. As another blog put it, Dobson is a “mega-talented, guitar shredding, key pounding badass chick.”

She is all those things and more and through touring with several hugely influential artists, you get a sense of true professionalism on this album. It doesn’t really feel like a debut at all. It feels like a masterpiece that has been incubating for years, only to reach its prime value now that it’s been released.

Whether it’s on ballads like “Tracks of the Green Line” and “The Watchmen” or hard-charging punch-to-the-gut songs like “Ships” or “You Go Running”, Dobson and her backing band consisting of her husband Peter Mansen and John Raines pull off a sound that feels completely effortless. Each song has somewhat of a menacing, almost haunting feel to it, but at the same time pulls of a surreal beauty that brings light and textures to each composition. For years, Dobson has been in the background of great bands, waiting her turn, keeping her dream alive, keeping it moving along (to paraphrase and recontextualize her song “Keep It Moving”), and with this release, I think it is safe to say that Dobson and Deep Sea Diver has stepped out from the shadows and is poised to be a breakthrough band in 2012.

“History Speaks” is available on the band’s Bandcamp page as a digital download for only $10. It will be the best Hamilton you spend for a while.