Sunday afternoon started out with the best weather of the festival, and absolutely no rain in the forecast. With most attendees having hit the festival hard for the last two days as well as some of the late night shows, there were quite a few fans moving a bit slowly at the start of the day. The crowd that made it to the Peachtree Stage for Con Brio’s kick off set were rewarded by an energetic performance that helped get the blood flowing and shook off the lethargy. With the festival in its homestretch, the bands and performances remained strong. One of the biggest treats of the early afternoon had to be heavily buzzed, Chicago-based indie rock band, Whitney. Led by former Smith Westerns songwriter and guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich, Whitney delivered upbeat melodies, understated harmonies, and tightly wound guitar riffs as played through most of the songs from their wonderful debut album, Light Upon the Lake. Another act that made a big impression on Sunday afternoon was Canadian rock band Arkells. The crowd was a bit thin and stand-offish as the band kicked off their set with “A Little Rain (A Song for Pete),” but frontman Max Kerman was having none of it. He was quickly up singing from the front edge of the stage, and ultimately climbed down into the crowd and got everyone up and singing along. The energy the band was generating was contagious, and the crowd was soaking it up and giving it back, creating an upward spiral that blurred the boundaries between and band and fans and created an instantly memorable performance. Shaky Knees has been traditionally booking what can be considered a classic act each year and this year was no exception. Last year it was Huey Lewis and the News, and this year it was 90’s alternative rockers Third Eye Blind. Led by founding member and frontman Stephan Jenkins, the band played through songs pulled primarily from their 1997 self-titled album. Hits like “Never Let You Go,” “Semi-Charmed Life,” and “Jumper” clicked with both old-school fans and first-timers alike. Other notable late afternoon sets included performances from Warpaint and the Shins.
As the day drew to a close, the crowd filled out in front of the Peachtree stage for the festival ending set from French electropop band, Phoenix. Setting the stage for their first festival performance in three years proved to be a massive undertaking, and the crew struggled to get everything precisely set in a short amount of time, including assembling and hanging a giant sheet of mirrors that hung suspended at an angle above the band. Anticipation was at a fever pitch by the time the band finally took the stage around 30 minutes late. Frustration quickly turned to amazement as Phoenix kicked off with new song “Ti Amo,” followed by “Lasso” from their massive hit album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. By the third song, “Entertainment,” the floor beneath the band lit up with a scenic view of waterfalls and a lush green landscape that was reflected in the giant wall of mirrors behind and over the band. The effect provided a stunning visual and made the late start worth the wait. The band continued alternating classic fan-favorite songs with new songs from their forthcoming sixth studio album. By the time the band closed out with “1901” and brought the performance full circle with the closer “Ti Amo Di Piu,” the crowd were roaring the approval for both Phoenix and another successful Shaky Knees Music Festival.
With the fifth anniversary of Shaky Knees in the books, the words of Stephan Jenkins seem an appropriate way to summarize the weekend and the festival as a whole. In the press room, after finishing an interview with local Atlanta radio station 99X, the Third Eye Blind frontman turned to the assembled media, and to paraphrase, said “Who is the guy who runs this festival? Oh yeah, Tim Sweetwood. Let me tell you something that you all probably already know, that guy does this for the love of the music. The organizers and everyone here are all about the music, that’s why I was happy to come and play.” After five years of evolution, Shaky Knees remains true to Tim Sweetwood’s original vision… It’s still all about the music. We are already anticipating what next year will bring.