Day 2 of the Shaky Knees Music Festival kicked off Saturday afternoon with the threat of rain continuing to hang over Centennial Park. However, like the previous day, Mother Nature looked kindly on the festival attendees and the storms never really materialized other than a brief shower late in the afternoon that provided a quick cool down and took some of the dust out of the air.
Music festivals are continually looking for ways to add to the entertainment value of the fans in attendance with things like artist villages, food courts, and other amusements… Shaky Knees, while providing diversions, keeps the focus on the music. As Zipper Club’s Mason James, announced during their set on Friday, “There are bands playing fucking instruments. It’s pretty cool.” So with the music taking “center stage,” the lineup on Saturday remained consistent and solid. The day started with Charlotte NC band Flagship who delivered a set of soaring emotional indie-pop tunes on the Peachtree Stage. Buzzing from Flagship’s uplifting tunes, we set out on the day, and the highlights continued at a fast and furious pace! Some of the standout performances from early Saturday afternoon included: Mariachi El Bronx, the Southern-California punk rockers, performing Mexican mariachi music with a punk aggression. Their set was well received, but left many wondering how hot it must be to perform in their traditional Mexican charro suits; Anderson East wowed the crowd with his powerful vocals driving a set of Southern Soul and R&B; And Bishop Briggs, hot off her Coachella debut last month, drew a large and energetic crowd for her set of alternative-pop filled with aggressive hip-hop beats and dark lyrics.
If the earlier afternoon sets were impressive, the late afternoon and evening performances took things to another level. Kicking off their set on the mainstage at 5:00pm, Welsh rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen showed why they have a massive following in the UK and Europe. The band have two albums under their belt and played songs from both, but the focus was on their 2016 album The Ride, which reached #1 in the UK charts. If the Shaky Knees crowd reaction was any indication, it won’t be long before they have a massive following in the US as well. Durham NC indie pop duo Sylvan Esso played their contagious synth-driven electropop to a massive crowd that gathered at the Peachtree Stage. With Nick Sanborn delivering the beats, singer Amelia Meath was in constant motion as she bounced and danced from one end of the stage to the other. Wrapping up the day were headliners the XX. Since releasing their debut album in 2009, the XX have been on a solid upward trajectory. The British trio of singer Romy Croft, bassist Oliver Sam, and DJ/producer Jamie XX (James Smith) performed one of the most distinctive sets of the weekend. They impressively managed to mix slower more somber songs with wilder all-out dance grooves, creating a rollercoaster ride of ebb and flow. The crowd was taken for a ride through peaks and valleys that ultimately sent them home physically and emotionally spent, but thrilled from the experience.