Shaky Knees top 20

From Viet Cong to Ryan Adams, CL scribes call out their festival picks

More than 80 bands take over Central Park when the third annual Shaky Knees fest returns May 8-10. CL scribes call out their top 20 shows of the weekend.

MAC DEMARCO Mac DeMarco is one of indie rock's most cherished modern acts. Lead by his goofball live show, he's a welcome addition to a scene that regularly takes itself too seriously. Friday. 4:15 p.m. Ponce de Leon Stage. — Sean Zearfoss

CLUTCH Clutch's latest album, 2013's Earth Rocker, took a brainy approach to time-tested riffs, giving nods to the stoner metal acts Clutch inspired in the first place. With nostalgia on its side, this will be a show-stealer. Friday. 4:15 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — Bobby Moore

BRAND NEW Brand New was presumed dead when the group dipped into unsigned obscurity in 2010. With the recent reissue of the band's discography, the teen emo girl in all of us squeals with anticipation for a hint at what's up the band's sleeve. Friday. 8:15 p.m. Ponce de Leon Stage. — Anastasia Zimitravich

THE STROKES It's difficult to find a more influential rock band for the early millennium than the Strokes. Filled with incessant hooks, angular leads, and bravado to pull the whole package together, Is This It was a perfect distillation of rock 'n' roll ethos and a forecast for what nearly all rock bands wanted to sound like for a decade. Friday. 9:30 p.m. Peachtree Stage. — SZ

SPEEDY ORTIZ The discordant guitars of '90s emo and indie rock have made a major comeback with Speedy Ortiz at the forefront of the movement. The Massachusetts band's latest album, Foil Deer, pairs Pavement's shambling pace, serrated guitars, and frontwoman Sadie Dupuis' coolly charming melodies and pop hooks. Saturday. 1:15 p.m. Boulevard Stage. — Ben Salmon

THE BRONX When not performing Mexican folk music as Mariachi El Bronx, the Bronx is a major-label punk/hard rock powerhouse. Heavy jams such as 2003's career-launching single "Bats" will get the crowd psyched mid-weekend. Saturday. 1:15 p.m. Peachtree Stage; 5:45 p.m. Buford Highway Stage. — BM

VIET CONG Don't let song titles such as "Pointless Experience" fool you. Viet Cong is anything but bored, spicing up post-punk with controlled aggression and pop sensibilities. This is Shaky Knees' offering for music fan looking to discover something big on a side stage. Saturday. 2 p.m. Buford Highway Stage. — Sonam Vashi

METZ Sure, Real Estate's playing at the same time. But how will you hear anything else over METZ's thunderous cacophony? This trio's mix of precise, atonal noise-rock has rocketed the band to the forefront of the punk/hardcore scene. Saturday 2:45 p.m. Boulevard Stage. — SV

BUILT TO SPILL With golden-era indie rock bands, you either die heroes or live long enough to become washed-up. For nearly 25 years Built to Spill has avoided this trap. The group's latest album, Untethered Moon, retains the hallmarks of its oft-imitated infectious choruses, furious guitars, and frontman Doug Martsch's anxious lyricism. Saturday. 4:45 p.m. Boulevard Stage. — Paul DeMerritt

INTERPOL Since the late 1990s, Interpol has thrived on reinventing Reagan-era post-punk melancholy with baritone crooning, grooves, and a fascist-chic attire. Saturday. 5:45 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — AZ

NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL Despite embarking on one of the biggest reunion tours in recent memory, Neutral Milk Hotel hasn't added anything new to its story. But what matters — its music and ramshackle stage show — is wholly intact and is as splendid as ever. Saturday. 5:45 p.m. Ponce de Leon Stage. — SZ

NIKKI LANE Nashville songwriter Nikki Lane's musical approach harkens back to her Music City foremothers, blending a rebellious spirit with classic country. Lane is supporting her latest album, 2014's All or Nothin'. Sunday. 12:30 p.m. Ponce de Leon Stage. — BM

STEVE GUNN Singer/songwriter Steve Gunn has a deep interest in Indian raga music and a finger-picking guitar style a la the late Jack Rose. Both push Gunn's repertoire to grow in striking complexity. The warm, Appalachian sensibilities of last year's Way Out Weather earned widespread critical acclaim, and a new home on Matador Records. Sunday. 1:15 p.m. Boulevard Stage. — Beca Grimm

PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND Preservation Hall Jazz Band represents one of America's most crucial musical legacies. The NOLA-based outfit dates back to the early '60s when traditional New Orleans jazz was on the decline. Tuba player Allan Jaffe bought the Preservation Hall and kick-started a renaissance. Since then, Jaffe's vision has flourished, and the Jazz Band ensures the jubilant energy of New Orleans jazz remains intact. Sunday. 2 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — PD

BEST COAST With Best Coast's popularity growing exponentially, and its sound taking a more pop-accessible turn, it's only a matter of time before the band finds mainstream success. California Nights, the band's major-label debut, arrived May 5 (Harvest Records). Singer/guitarist Bethany Cosentino's peppy pop songs about boys, weed, and the warm California sun will be the prefect soundtrack for a spring afternoon in the park. Sunday. 3:45 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — BM

PANDA BEAR Between Daft Punk collaborations, acoustic ballads, and dub-inspired sample collages, it's difficult to find a common thread in Panda Bear's music. "Psychedelic" may be the only descriptor that remains constant throughout the Animal Collective alum's career. His latest, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, is an especially diverse and psychoactive release that innovates while maintaining his signature sound. Sunday. 5:45 p.m. Buford Highway Stage. — PD

SPIRITUALIZED Three years after Spiritualized released Sweet Heart Sweet Light, a sweeping and grandiose statement that stands among the group's finest efforts, the space-rock titan returns. For frontman J. Spaceman, who over the past decade has battled major cases of pneumonia and undergone chemotherapy, his latest string of tour dates bring back to life his stunning compositions. With an eighth LP on the horizon, the English rockers might preview a few new tracks from the recent recording sessions. Not that we'd have any problem hearing the group's earlier symphonic and chaotic sounds floating in space. Sunday. 5:45 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — Max Blau

RYAN ADAMS Ryan Adams is known as much for his onstage tantrums as for his unparalleled songwriting talent. The guy has released more than enough great material to bury the bad behavior and occasional so-so song. His 2014 self-titled album is a solid slab of straightforward rock 'n' roll. Sunday. 6:45 p.m. Peachtree Stage. — BS

RIDE A lot has changed since Ride broke up in 1996. The British shoegaze quartet ran its course as Britpop swept the nation. Oxford musicians Andy Bell, Mark Gardener, Laurence "Loz" Colbert, and Steve Queralt parted ways to pursue their respective interests. Two decades later, Ride has grown into one of the shoegaze's most revered bands alongside My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Slowdive. Sunday. 7:45 p.m. Piedmont Stage. — MB

TAME IMPALA Tame Impala emerged fully formed from the Perth, Australia, music scene, a little-known band with seemingly no rough edges to its psychedelic rock. Two albums later, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker has yet to take a misstep; the group's sound is a gleaming example of how accessible psychedelic music can be when imbued with killer melodies. Sunday. 9 p.m. Peachtree Stage. — BS

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