This year’s installment of the Shaky Knees Music Festival was my first time going to a music festival alone. No familiar faces. No friends around me. Just a weekend spent alone in Central Atlanta – absorbing all the thunderous music around me. At first I was nervous of spending that much time alone among the huge crowd of strangers, but a day into the festival I realized that all of these people came to experience the music – to escape their lives and transcend into their own personal musical nirvanas. Nobody cared if I was alone and that made me feel accepted in a strange and admirable way.
The first day was loaded with talent.
I began the day with a set by Lo Moon, then a set by Margaret Glaspy. Then Car Seat Headrest, then Wolf Parade, Portugal. The Man, Cage The Elephant, and finally LCD Soundsystem. Besides monitor difficulties on the main stage, each act powered through and obliterated the stage. Members of Cage The Elephant stood, propelled by crowd members, Portugal. The Man set off smoke bombs on stage, and Wolf Parade shredded with harsh synths and rocking lead riffs. There was something magical when LCD Soundsystem stepped through the blue-tented stage mist – making the audience dance themselves clean. The lighting, the sound, the talent, the crowd – everything about the performance was perfect.
Photos by aLIVE Coverage.
After the intensity of the first day, I told myself to take it easy and really focus on going to shows that I thought would be the most important.
These performances included Run River North, Moon Taxi, Sylvan Esso, Dr. Dog, and Nick Murphy. Unfortunately, life took hold and I missed out on most of these sets. But no fear! This is a music festival and music is everywhere. I decided to do some exploring after the courageous set put on by Run River North and stumbled across the ending of Shovels and Rope’s set, which sucked me into the madness due to Cary Ann Hearst’s ferocious drumming. This was definitely a group that I never thought I would listen to, but after replaying that moment in my head for some time I am very enthusiastic as to just what they have to offer the music world.
As for the best set of day two, it’s no competition when it comes to Sylvan Esso. This was the only show at the festival where I witnessed the entire crowd dancing. Sporting a simple stage setup, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn only needed their music to tear down the festival and pulse through the city.
As for the third day – Mother’s Day – I missed headlining acts The Shins and Phoenix (to much dismay.) However, I ended the fest with an inspiring set performed by The Fruit Bats before my journey back home.
Shaky Knees is still growing as a festival, but if the programming in the future is as powerful as this year’s lineup, I see it rising to the biggest of festival circuits.