Shaky Knees Origins: The Story Behind The Names In This Year’s Lineup

Shaky Knees Music Festival is a three day festival that takes place right in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Georgia. This indie festival, founded by Tim Sweetwood in 2013, was created to fill a gap in the Atlanta music scene as well as to create a small festival solely focused on the music. Giving a stage to indie artists around the world allows people to hear a wide array of bands with extremely creative and unique names. Below is a list of the diverse origin stories of some of the more eccentric names attending this year’s festival.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

Hometown: Boone, North Carolina

Genre: Alternative Rock

Name Origin: A name like Rainbow Kitten Surprise does not simply arrive without a wild origin story. This wild name came after a friend of the band was lying barely conscious in his hospital bed after undergoing surgery. In his delusional state, he kept repeating the words “Rainbow Kitten Surprise.” Being such an unusual name that was delivered to them under such strange circumstances, the band felt they had to go with it.

 Moon Taxi

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

Genre: Indie-Progressive Rock

Name Origin: One day the members of the band left a Nashville club after a night of drinking. They were on the street trying to flag down a taxi with no success. Frustrated by their failure, the band’s frontman Trevor began mooning taxis as they passed. The cabs began to speed up leaving them still without a ride, but instead with a cool new band name. Over time this band name has taken on a spiritual meaning to the members of the band. The moon symbolizes a strange transformative power and the taxi represents a means of transporting someone from one state of being to another. Moon Taxi represents the dynamic and life-altering effect music can have on someone. Similar to a full moon unleashing one’s inner beast, music can make someone go a little crazy in a good way.

 Portugal. The Man

Hometown: Wasilla, Alaska

Genre: Neo-Psychedelic Rock

Name Origin: When performers take the stage, they are performing as an alternative version of themselves. Their stage personas act as an alter ego or a more confident self. For the members of the rock group Portugal. The Man, their name is their alter ego. John Gourley, the group’s lead singer, grew up as a shy kid who idolized rock legends such as David Bowie and The Beatles. He admired the characters they created such as Ziggy Stardust or Sgt. Pepper and sought out a persona for his music as well. They chose Portugal, the name of a country, to symbolizes a group of people in the world. The use of a period is to separate the name from its status. “The Man” was incorporated to demonstrate how their alter ego of Portugal is “the man or the greatest.”

 Third Eye Blind

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Genre: Post Grunge

Name Origin: This peculiar name is said to stem from the metaphysical idea of a mind’s eye. In eastern practices, through different forms of meditation, when the third eye or Ajna is opened an entirely new reality is revealed to that person. Many of Third Eye Blind’s songs have embraced this concept being named after mind altering experiences through drugs or eastern psychic practices. Some examples of this are found in the names of some of their early tracks such as “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Palm Reader,” and “Crystal Baller.”

Zipper Club

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Genre: Upbeat Indie Pop

Name Origin: The members of the trio Zipper Club have remained highly ambiguous regarding the origin and meaning of their band’s name. According to the members, there are many Zipper Clubs out there, but they want their club to hold a different meaning for each person. They want their fans to feel included and show up to their live performances to determine what meaning the band’s music holds for that specific person. Essentially the name is about inclusion and finding the meaning music has in each person’s life.

 Great Peacock

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee

Genre: Folk

Name Origin: For the members of Great Peacock, their name started off as a joke. They initially picked the name thinking it was simply a humorous and unusual name for a band. Over time, the silly name has taken on a new meaning for the group. Frontman Andrew Nelson commented, “through the evolution of everything we’ve done, we’ve always been big and colorful.” The color and vibrant energy that goes into both their music and performance has become the essence of their name and character.

 Cymbals Eat Guitars

Hometown: Staten Island, New York

Genre: Shoegaze

Name Origin: This shoegaze punk group drew strong influence from the guitar dominated sound of the classic rock group The Velvet Underground. In the early days of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed took special measures to ensure that the guitars were heard in the recordings. When tracking drums, he would omit cymbals and only record the sounds of the low tom, snare, and kick drum with the reasoning, “cymbals eat out guitars.” These friends from New York really enjoyed that quote and decided to use it to form an epic band name.

 Catfish and The Bottlemen

Hometown: Llandudno, Wales

Genre: Alternative Rock

Name Origin: Catfish and The Bottlemen are one of the hottest alternative rock bands to gain fame in the past few years. Despite their rocker image, the origin of the band’s name is actually quite touching. The story behind this one of a kind name can be traced all the way back to the frontman Van McCann’s childhood. McCann’s parents moved to Australia to spend their lives traveling together. After an unfortunate accident, his mother was told that she would not be able to have children. Through perseverance and several in vitro fertilization attempts, his parents were blessed with Van’s miraculous birth. During his early childhood years, Van traveled around Australia with his vagabond parents. At one point they crossed paths with a street performer named Catfish The Bottleman who used wine bottles like a drum kit. This early encounter with music inspired Van to become a musician himself. In honor of the man who inspired him to perform, the band took the name Catfish and The Bottlemen.

 Car Seat Headrest

Hometown: Leesburg, Virginia

Genre: Lo-Fi Indie Rock

Name Origin: Car Seat Headrest is an indie rock project which began as a solo project by Will Barnes (Will Toledo). Using low-budget self recording techniques, he released twelve albums on Bandcamp for his strong internet fanbase. Proving that a young DIY recording artist can achieve national success, he has since inspired many young musicians. The name Car Seat Headrest is a tribute to his early recording sessions done in the privacy of the backseat of his car. Making a studio out of a commonly available location shows how true talent and a creative vision needs nothing more than an audience. Now that his music has earned a national following, his band name serves as a daily reminder to his humble beginnings.

 Cage The Elephant

Hometown: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Genre: Alternative Rock

Name Origin: Sometimes creating a cool band name takes a lot of intense thought. Other times, the name comes running to you. Matt Schultz, the band’s lead singer, says the name came to them while hanging outside of a club in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2006. As the band was relaxing, a bald man with a goatee began yelling and screaming to himself. Then without notice, the homeless man began to charge towards to the group. In fear of potentially being attacked, everyone jumped into the car and locked the doors. Matt did not make it to the car fast enough and was left vulnerable and alone. The man then approached him and gave him a hug while saying, “You have to cage the elephant, you have to cage the elephant.” As quickly as the words were spoken to him, Matt instinctively knew that those words would become the band’s name.

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