The good vibes rolled for three days straight in Atlanta last weekend as Shaky Knees took over Central Park and surrounding areas with five stages, each hosting a strong daily lineup of bands. The real winner of the weekend might have been King of Pops, who had a consistent line of sweaty festival goers waiting to cool down with one of their signature popsicles until the sun went down. Really though, it’s one of the most laid back festivals I’ve ever been to. No lines for a bathroom ever, water stations available in several locations to stay hydrated, an array of food trucks to choose from, and most importantly daily music lineups that couldn’t be beat. From The Strokes headlining the first night, to a Saturday that brought on aggressive indie rock early in the day to classics like Noel Gallagher and Wilco late, and a Sunday with Tame Impala and Ryan Adams to top it off, the festival organizers pushed all the right buttons to make it an event for everyone to enjoy.
Dressed in camo overalls, which seem to be his festival wear of choice this summer, Mac DeMarco and band drew a huge crowd to their mid afternoon set on the steamy concrete of the Ponce De Leon stage. Highlights were obviously songs like “Salad Days” and “Ode to Viceroy”, but it was his crowd surfing through the crowd late in the set and an impromptu Coldplay cover from bass player Pierce McGarry while DeMarco changed a string that made this set most memorable. -David Stringer
Only blocks from where Manchester Orchestra host The Stuffing, their annual Thanksgiving get-together, Andy Hull and company played a heavy and aggressive set for their beloved hometown crowd. Hull, who is a recent father, had his baby girl in the crowd seeing him perform for the first time. All of the hometown Atlanta shows seem to be a family affair for the band, with his parents often coming to The Stuffing. Between Wavves, Manchester, and Brand New, those three bands had the most electricity in their stage performances of all the sets we caught Friday. -David Stringer
Brand New fans are rabid and Brand New gave them the disease. It’s a teasing torture technique, dangling the carrot of a new album for years and years and years and add three more to that for the pop punk band turned indie rock heroes from Jersey. And through that dark hiatus they’ve shown their face only on occasion, touring and testing new music, but now the wait is finally over. With the official release of a ferocious new song called “Mene” they broke radio silence and excited their fan base for their new album. One thing’s for sure, their stage presence and live show is as incredible as it’s always been thanks to both frontman Jesse Lacey and guitarist Vinnie Accardi, who is arguably the best on stage performing guitarist I’ve ever seen. -David Stringer
One of my surprise favorites, British band Palma Violets led off a Saturday which featured much more aggressive music than the prior day. Between them, FIDLAR, and Metz, there was a ton of crowd surfing and a surge of much-needed energy to a crowd half focused on staying hydrated. I’m not sure if I was even that into their music, as much as I was entertained by their bass player. Dude did not care about anything but bouncing around on stage and screaming, and I’m into that. FIDLAR said they can drink with the best of them, and I’m into that too. -David Stringer
Described by P4K as “post-hardcore sludge-punk” Metz live show was disorienting. Three grown ass Canadian men on stage playing like it would be their last show ever, and I went into it knowing what to expect, but if you didn’t, you had to admire it. Unlike other overdriven bands playing the festival such as Wavves, who are still hook driven, Metz make no apologies for who they are. Loud, in your face noise rock that leaves you coming back for more. -David Stringer
My favorite set of the weekend, I found California rockers FIDLAR like many people did, through the video for their song “Cocaine” which featured Nick Offerman. If you haven’t seen it go watch it now. FIDLAR had the crowd in the palm of their hand, as crowd surfer after crowd surfer spilled over the front barrier and everything from shoes and glasses, to water and beer cans flew through the air the entire set. Frontman Zac Carpenter joked that they were only playing three chords, and later showed their absolute dominance of the rowdy crowd by shushing them, and it actually worked. The entire tent went silent for 5 seconds. It was kind of amazing, especially for a crowd that was fueled by alcohol and weed, for a band performing song after song about alcohol and weed. Little known fact, drummer Karl Kuehn played a house show at our house a couple of years back, then with the band Kitten. -David Stringer
As the crowd was rolling in for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds I noticed a guy camped out in the front row wearing an Oasis shirt that said “Don’t Believe the Truth.” Mid way through the set Gallagher caught a glimpse of the shirt and at first I thought he was going to say something snarky, but it turned out being an amazing moment. “Are you wearing my shirt??” said Gallagher. “You know, you’re the fucking reason I do this shit. You’re the reason that I’m up here playing right now.” That was just one of the magical moments of their set. A much maligned crowd changed their whole tune when Gallagher sang “How many special people change”, the opening line of Oasis’ hit song “Champagne Supernova.” Everyone sitting in the back jumped up and ran towards the front, including most of FIDLAR of course. Gallagher pulled out two other Oasis songs during the set, b side “The Masterplan” and closer “Don’t Look Back in Anger” were both huge hits with the crowd, and with me. I must admit I got goosebumps seeing Noel unLiamed, playing some of my favorite Oasis songs. -David Stringer
The sun was about to set, and the shade provided by the Buford Highway Stage tent was beyond welcoming. Panda Bear, also known as Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox, is a one-man, experimental musician of the neo-psychedelia electronic genre. After a weekend of predominately indie and alternative rock acts, Panda Bear’s set served as a contrasting showcase to depict the broad definition of the modern indie world. The 45-minute set featured a seamless mix of old and new tracks, freshly flavored by his trippy vocal effects, perfectly looped samples, and innovative synthesizer techniques that made everyone in the tent sway.
I was completely entranced by the creative intricacies of Panda Bear’s set, between the electric energy in the crowd and the colorful, kooky images that played behind Lennox in time with his beats. Lennox seemed completely focused on his performance, looking up occasionally to gauge the crowd’s energy. His prominent vocals bounced on the flow of his looped beats, and turned what could have been a straightforward set into a lovely performance piece. Panda Bear at Shaky Knees brought a surprisingly dynamic, electronic, art-pop edge to the festival. -Meredith Wohl
During three full days of dozens of incredible musical acts, I eagerly awaited Tame Impala. These Australian hit makers have been my favorite band since their release of Innerspeaker in 2010, and to me, it was fitting that they’d be the final headliner of a festival showcasing the best and brightest of the modern indie genre. As the third day of the festival began, I mapped out my day to make sure I could push to the front of the Peachtree Stage crowd for their set. Ryan Adams crooned this last track (which was fabulous, of course), and I pushed to the front gate. We secured our place in the third row in front of the stage, and I found myself surrounded by fellow superfans. I loved speaking with crowd members about their love for the band. Some guys around me said they came to the festival all the way from Indiana just to see Tame Impala. The crowd’s energy was infectiously anxious.
The lights dimmed, and Tame Impala began their set with a new track off of their new album , Let It Happen. Accompanied by a captivatingly beautiful light show, Tame Impala played through their most popular hits with an obvious chemistry between all of the members, sharing beaming smiles and candid comments about the energy of the crowd. While there was not a lot of banter during the set, frontman Kevin Parker seemed inspired by the amount of people in the crowd singing along with him. Near the end of the set, they played their newest track, Eventually, for the second time ever. The band seemed comfortable with the track, and were clearly excited to play it for such an excitable, festival crowd. When the band walked back on stage after their last song, Kevin said that while they weren’t planning to play an encore, the vigor of the crowd inspired them to play some more.
This festival finale was certainly worth its hype. As they continue their tour to other festivals across the country, I am sure they’ll fondly remember the excitable energy of the Shaky Knees. -Meredith Wohl
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