Festival season sweeps new music into the spotlight each year, and this summer is no exception. Shaky Knees represents a haven for the funky, out-of-the-box or just plain punk sounds radiating from stage to stage, and luckily, you don’t have to stick with one vibe. These up-and-coming bands delivered new sensations with each song, complete with smooth transitions.
The Aquadolls sound can’t be contained by genre. The band’s punk-meets-pop-meets-punk-revisited can only be described by the nostalgic yet temperamental angst associated with early adolescence, self-burned CDs and questionable hair cuts. When Los Angeles lead singer and guitarist Melissa Brooks birthed The Aquadolls from her own teenage struggles in 2012, she had no idea the project would grow up to play festivals and headlined tours.
“We perform good under pressure, like a hydraulic press,” says bassist Keilah Nina. This sentiment must be true as the band derived a stellar performance at Shaky from a mere two hours of sleep the night before. The Aquadolls rocked the Criminal Records stage Sunday afternoon so effectively that imaginary glitter danced in the eyes of the audience. The girls alternated familiar pop-rock melodies with fast-paced drums, featured a beloved “Take Me Away” cover to the set list and were sure to garnish each song with effortless punk screams.
But The Aquadolls can do a lot with a little. Their next album, “Charmed” was crafted in just two weeks after a co-headline tour and prior to a tour opening for Incubus and Sublime, all while the girls worked full-time at a coffee shop.
“Charmed”, set to release June 2, had outside support from producer Chris Szczech who provided a safe space for The Aquadolls to grind through the strenuous recording process. The girls wrote several songs from scratch in the studio, a process that moved so quickly The Aquadolls have little memory of it all.
“When you’re in a go-mode, you tend to overthink,” says Keilah. “It was nice to have someone that was level headed saying, ‘you’re thinking too much. Just play.’”
“[Chris] helped us simplify it, which is really the key I think, simplifying,” continues drummer Jacqueline Proctor.
The bands’ newest project is sure to invoke a rainbow of feelings, according to the band.
“It’s sparkly, and magical and nostalgic,” says Melissa. “It’s just about all kinds of love–self love, platonic love, friendship love, romantic love and breaking up–it’s a little bit of everything.”
These girls have built a hard-to-come-by intimacy through tears shed before a set, crashing in a nap pile between shows or jamming out to Jacqueline’s pump up playlist before a performance, The Aquadolls have each other’s back on and off the stage. Charmed is predisposed for greatness at the hands of these fun-loving musicians.
Atlanta born but Florida based Trash Panda also gave audiences a highly desired set at Ponce de Leon stage Sunday afternoon. Their united front provided a sturdy yet playful energy while seamlessly transitioning between songs like cheeky “Atlanta Girls” to “Sijah”’s punky vibe and racy lyrics. Trash Panda claims their Shaky performance as one of their best yet.
“There was a sea of people that were chanting the words to every song,” says drummer Christian Pittman. “It was insane. How could you not love that?”
Trash Panda remains a hands-on, family project. Vocalist and guitarist Patrick Taylor designed the cover of PANDAMONIUM!, the band’s newest album released on May 12. When the band fell short on money to rent a van for tour, their fans filled a GoFundMe account until there was enough to make it happen. When a member feels down, the other members adjust their schedules accordingly.
“We value mental health,” says Christian. “That’s why this band is gonna work out for the long run because we love each other.”
PANDAMONIUM! offers listeners a chance to see the range Trash Panda possesses from trippy “Toxic Signs” to jazzy auto-tune graced “Made of Love”. The band already plans on incorporating a high energy Spanish medicine song on a future record.
Trash Panda is set to tour throughout the rest of May and June with a break during the month of July. Fall is forecasted to be a busy season for the band with a co-headline tour with Hotel Fiction while beginning work on their third record.
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