Shaky Knees Day 3 2021

Live Review: Day 3 @ Shaky Knees Music Festival – October 24th 2021

Somehow Tim Sweetwood and the organizers of Shaky Knees manage to deliver something special with each new iteration of the festival.  In the shadow of a pandemic, with a whole host of new challenges and obstacles, this year felt extra special.  We were lucky to have a festival to attend… Getting back out there and experiencing live music was exactly what everyone needed.  So it was with a sense of gratitude that we strolled into Central Park for the final day of Spooky Knees.  Yup, the nickname was just too perfect not to stick to this version of Shaky Knees.   

As with the previous two days, we started the day off at the smaller stages.  This time it was the Ponce de Leon stage for Michigander, the indie pop musical project of singer/songwriter Jason Singer.  Having released a new EP, Everything Will be Okay Eventually, earlier this year, we were eager to experience the songs performed live.  We were not disappointed, as Singer’s bittersweet yet hopeful lyrics wrapped in joyous and dreamy melodies did indeed translate from the stage.  From the Ponce stage we once again found ourselves wandering across the way to the Criminal Records stage, where we caught a set from the Aubreys, and indie-pop duo featuring Finn Wolfhard and drummer Malcolm Craig.  Rising from the ashes of Calpurnia, Wolfhard and Craig have released a new three-song EP, Soda And Pie.  The duo have said that their goal is to keep it real fun and light, and that is exactly how their performance went.

Taking the lead from the Aubreys, we went about the rest of our last day at Shaky Knees 2021 ”keeping it light”, and we were rewarded with some noteworthy performances.

•  Orville Peck.  It was over to the Peachtree stage for the gay masked country crooner Orville Peck and his band.  Peck, clad in a cowboy hat and fringed mask with a voice that has been likened to a combination of Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak, was both haunting and surreal.  His performance was well received and for the festival goers who were not familiar with Peck and his absolutely brilliant album, Pony, he certainly twisted more than a few pre-conceived notions and expectations on their head.   

•  black midi.  Emerging on the Criminal Records stage to a boxing announcer’s hype was London’s experimental prog punk rockers black midi.  The band has been generating a sizable amount of buzz and they immediately showed that it was well earned. They hit the stage with the force of a hurricane and didn’t let up.  Singer Geordie Greep  shared the spotlight with saxophonist Kaidi Akinnibi, who was in constant motion moving between the front of the stage and his band mates, his playing adding a jazzy sheen to the proceedings.  Sharing the energy and charisma of the frontmen and driving the explosive musical storm was drummer Morgan Simpson.  The set was even wilder than we had expected and definitely left us “blown away”.

•  Phoebe Bridgers.  Choosing to wrap her current tour at Shaky Knees was the much-adored singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers.  Her introspective and emotional songs might not seem like a fit for the main stage at a large music festival, but she managed to make it work.  Her adoring fans were attentive and respectful, as she connected with the large crowd and somehow made it feel intimate. 

•  The Strokes.  Closing out the festival fell to returning Shaky Knees alums, the Strokes, who had previously headlined in 2015.  After a 15-minute delay, the band appeared on the massive stage decorated with geometric shapes and an impressive wall of lights.  The evening got off on an odd note with the vocals of frontman Julian Casablancas being processed to make him sound like a deranged Donald Duck.  After the odd start that had fans looking at each other in confusion, the band found their groove and delivered a solid set that proved a fitting end to a cathartic weekend of communal music, fellowship and fun.

Shaky Knees didn’t spend any time stepping back and enjoying the fruits of their labor after another successful run.  Almost immediately after this year’s Spooky Knees edition, they announced they would be back in the Spring. Shaky Knees 2022 is set to return to Atlanta on April 29-May 1, 2022.  We are still coming down from last weekend, and already looking forward to the Spring. 

Day 3 at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2021
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography