Now in its 7th year and truly hitting its stride, the Shaky Knees Music Festival returned to Midtown Atlanta’s Central Park this past weekend. Launched in 2013 as a humble 2-day festival in downtown Atlanta by local concert promoter Tim Sweetwood, Shaky Knees has evolved into a three-day event with more than 60 artists playing on four stages. Despite the growth and improvements, Sweetwood, who is first and foremost a music fan, has remained dedicated to his original vision and continues to curate the lineup focused on a musical core of indie, alternative rock, punk, pop, and soul. By staying true to its roots, Shaky Knees has continued to resonate and thrive in a landscape where other large established music festivals have stumbled.
Last weekend’s Shaky Knees
was the second consecutive year the festival was hosted in the tree-laden
confines of Midtown’s Central Park. The location is absolutely ideal, providing
a compact footprint that limits long time-consuming treks between stages, supplies
abundant shade from the bright sunshine, and affords some great viewing areas
to catch the bands including this year’s headliners, Beck, Cage the Elephant,
and Tame Impala.
With advanced weather forecasts
predicting a rain-soaked and possibly stormy weekend, the opening day Friday
crowd was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with a mix of warm sunshine and
random clouds. Eager to dive into the festival,
we made a beeline to the covered and cozy confines of the Ponce de Leon stage to
kick off the weekend with up and coming 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter,
Taylor Janzen. Having already garnered a
fair amount of buzz from the likes of NPR, the New York Times, Rolling Stone
and more, Janzen impressed the early crowd with a confident performance that finely
balanced her warm vocals with folk-tinged indie rock guitar. Her set was well received and turned a few
Having broken the seal on the
weekend, we were eager to keep rolling, and the highlights started stacking up with
standout sets that included:
• Blues/alt-rock trio Hannah Wicklund & the
Steppin Stones delivering an electric set of guitar-driven blues-soaked rock anchored
by Hannah’s powerful vocals that soared from the Peachtree stage.
• Philadelphia-based rockers, Low Cut Connie turned
the Ponce stage into a makeshift honky tonk.
Their ferocious performance that featured frontman Adam Weiner
channeling his inner Jerry Lee Lewis as he didn’t just play the piano, he played
on it, under it, and belted out songs from on top of it. This was definitely a potential set of the
day… And we were just getting started!
• Once again, the smaller Ponce de Leon stage delivered
a performance the defied its diminutive stature. This time it was highly buzzed British punk
rockers, IDLES who morphed the confines into a sweaty mosh pit. Singer Joe Talbot prowled the stage
throughout the set, but was almost overshadowed by lead guitarist Mark Bowen,
who clad in nothing more than his underwear, was all over the stage and at one
point was out on the shoulders of the crowd.
We staggered away from Ponce stunned by the succinct by wildly ferocious
• Recovering from the fury of IDLES, Sharon Van
Etten provided the perfect transition in the bright afternoon sun with her atmospheric
songs centered around her powerful and emotional vocals.
• Liz Phair, who is enjoying a bit of a renaissance
with the release of the 25th Anniversary edition of her iconic debut
album , Exile in Guyville, played a
solid sun-soaked set that featured beach balls bouncing around the crowd. She sounded fresh and vital, putting smiles
on the faces of her long-time fans and winning over a new generation.
• Australian singer-songwriter, talented multi-instrumentalist,
and captivating performer Tash Sultana built a full an impressive sound by
layering loops around her expressive guitar playing. It was easy to see how she has been earning critical
acclaim, and building a dedicated following.
• Incubus, led by
the still powerful and emotive vocals of Brandon Boyd showed that they have not
lost a step. Their genre-defying mix of
influences fueled a wildly well received set and cemented their current
• Tears for Fears delivered one of the most anticipated
sets of the day. It was tough to tell
who looked happier, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, or the fans taking in the
show. The duo played an hour long set of
greatest hits that was met with louder and more euphoric cheering with each new
song. They even included a curveball, by
including a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead.
• Putting a cap on Friday night fell to headliner, Beck, who wowed the crowd with songs pulled from across his vast catalog. Hits like “Devil’s Haircut” and “The New Pollution,” fit solidly next to newer songs from 2017’s Colors. Unfortunately, at the artist’s request, photography was limited, So we don’t have any images of Beck’s performance to share, but we did manage to capture tons of action… Check it out below: