Shaky Knees 2021 Day 1

Live Review: Day 1 @ Shaky Knees Music Festival – October 22nd 2021

It has been more than two years since the Shaky Knees Music Festival graced the tree-laden confines of Midtown Atlanta’s Central Park.  After taking 2020 off in deference to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of our favorite festivals has returned!  Rather than slipping back into its normal Spring time slot, fans were treated to a special Fall edition this past weekend, Oct. 22nd – 24th, playfully dubbed “Spooky Knees”.  Despite the year away and seasonal change, Shaky Knees remained committed to its original vision and presented a three-day lineup that primarily focused on its core mixture of indie, alternative rock, punk, pop, and soul.

Despite the excitement at the return of live music and the thought of mingling in a crowd of like-minded revelers, the shadow of pandemic anxiety still lingers for many.  However, thanks to the event’s COVID prevention policies, which required all attendees to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test result, it was easy to simply get lost in the music.  So, it was with a bit more confidence that we made our way down to Central Park on a temperate sunny afternoon.  Sure enough, as we approached the grounds and made our way to the entrance, we were indeed greeted by a health check station prior to the security lines.  Our experience was that while the staff was still getting up to speed, the process was orderly and seemed to move quickly.  Our timing was spot on, and we rolled up to the Criminal Records Stage just as Specialists kicked off their set and our festival weekend.  Hailing from New York, Specialists delivered an energetic performance of relentless funk with gleaming rock guitar that set the pace for other bands to follow…  And the highlights just kept coming, with day 1 standouts that included:

•  A hard rocking set of blues, grunge, hip-hop and soul from Seattle’s Ayron Jones over at the Piedmont Stage.

•  Frankie & The Witch Fingers owned the smaller Ponce de Leon stage with a fierce performance of psychedelic garage rock that gave the fired-up crowd a solid kick up the backside.

•  Israeli singer, songwriter, and producer Noga Erez paced the expansive Peachtree stage capturing the support of the crowd with her charisma and smart songs backed with sample-based hip hop and electronic soundscapes.

•  Cults performed a comeback of sorts with their first show in three years.  Despite enduring a few hiccups, the duo ultimately won over the crowd with their enthusiasm and some seriously hooky indie pop songs.

•  ‘90s alternative duo Local H filled the intimate field surrounding the Criminal Records stage with a wall of gritty but spirited rock n roll that even included a playful reworking of “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)”.

•  Not sure what it was about the Criminal Records stage that seemed to bring out the fire in each of the acts we caught there on Friday, but none were more relentless than blues punk duo Black Pistol Fire.  They definitely lived up to their face-melting live performance reputation.

Day 1 at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2021
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography