Despite their early set time, Massachusets garage-rock outfit Speedy Ortiz put on one of the most entertaining sets of the weekend so far. Still riding the wave of critical acclaim for 2013’s Major Arcana and this years’ Foil Deer, the jagged dual guitars and Sadie Dupuis’ entertaining lyrics provided the jolt that festivalgoers needed to survive the afternoon sun. Highlights of Speedy’s set included Foil Deer standout “Raising the Skate” and Arcana’s “Plough”. The great reception the band got from the crowd seems to indicate that Speedy Ortiz might be headed for an even larger festival stages soon.
-Andy Tabeling, @andytabelz
The Canadian post-punk band Viet Cong felt a little out of place with a 2:00 PM timeslot, but with a surprisingly good-humored stage presence, they owned it. Bassist/vocalist Matt Flegel gave a talk about each band member’s nickname between songs, and introduced the song “Continental Shelf” as “Continental Breakfast.” “March of Progress” was as just as impressive as I hoped it would be in a live setting, and the band closed on a powerful rendition of “Death” in which guitarist Daniel Christiansen was so intense that his guitar began flying about him like he was spinning a rifle. For a band that is so much about death and darkness, they were certainly a bright spot in Saturday’s lineup.
There seemed to be some Canadian band-mance happening on Saturday, as guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins shouted out Viet Cong before METZ began their mid-afternoon set. The noise rock band was loud and hard-hitting, and the drums were able to cut through any post-lunch daze that their listeners might have had. Viet Cong seemed to agree, as their members could be spotted among the general admission crowd.
-Trevor Adams, @RevorTadams
From 2:45 to 3:45, Real Estate performed on the Peachtree stage. The band played several songs from their most recent album, Atlas, including “Had to Hear,” “Talking Backwards” and “Crime.” From the older albums, they played “Municipality,” “Green Aisles,” and more. The band drew a decent sized crowd, with many sitting in the grass to enjoy the tunes. The laid-back music allowed the audience to relax and take in the moment.
-Valerie Voswinkel, @valvoswinkel
Black Lips’ performance was high-energy and fun. The band originated in Atlanta, so this homecoming performance had a warmth and friendliness to it. A few songs they played were “Drugs” and “Funny.” The group ended with arguably their most well-known song “Bad Kids,” with many fans singing and dancing along. Compared to their sound in recordings, the Black Lips sounded just as spontaneous and energetic live. Their stage presence was great, helping the audience to connect with the band as people. The show definitely was successful in entertaining the fans and providing them with an exciting concert experience.
Built to Spill sounded as vibrant as ever during their late afternoon slot at the Boulevard set. The band’s hour-long performance spanned tracks from across Built to Spill’s 8 album discography and included some of the band’s most well-known songs like “Carry the Zero” and “The Plan,” along with tracks from their just-released Untethered Moon. Doug Martsch led the band’s fierce three-guitar attack that gave the set a heavy dose of energy and raw noise that the sizable crowd ate up. After realizing they had ended their set a little early, the band came back out for a 2-song encore that concluded with a cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. While the band has now been together for 20+ years, they still are one of the most consistently enjoyable bands in indie rock and a fine choice for any festival.
Neutral Milk Hotel, one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend, had a large crowd waiting long before their scheduled playtime. When Jeff Mangum appeared, fans began screaming, and I could tell that the everyone around me was much more passionate than a typical festival crowd. Opening with “I Will Bury You In Time” off of the Ferris Wheel on Fire compilation, the indie rock legends instantly had the crowd entranced. While the band only has two real albums, they were not in short supply of songs that fans demanded to hear. Songs from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea had the crowd overpowering Mangum with vocal sincerity. Honestly, I actually cried during “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2”. Although the audience was asked to put away all recording equipment, I have no doubt that those who attended will have memories that will last a lifetime.
In their (mostly imaginary) battle with the Flaming Lips to play every single rock festival in America, Wilco rolled through Shaky Knees and ripped through an excellent tour of their discography over an all-too-brief hour and fifteen minutes. Opening with “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”, Jeff Tweedy and the gang played four more tracks from their classic Yankee Hotel Foxtrot along with other old favorites and deeper cuts. The band’s expansive sound provided the perfect backdrop to the setting sun, especially as the darkness came over Central Park right as Nels Cline began his famous “Impossible Germany” solo. Stopping only briefly to thank the enormous crowd, Wilco fit a remarkable number of songs into their time slot and once again proved that they are a reliable festival workhorse who won’t disappoint.
Later in the evening, ZZ Ward performed at the Buford Hwy Stage. Her performance was mesmerizing, with funky beats and strong vocals. She is an incredible performer and brought energy into the crowd. She performed some of her popular songs, such as “365 Days,” “Charlie Ain’t Home,” and “Blue Eyes Blind.” In addition to her normal set, she debuted a new song for the Shaky Knees crowd. Her music had everyone dancing and singing along to her upbeat music. Her performance was very interactive as she often asked the crowd to repeat a part for her or clap along to the beat.