Live Review: Day 1 @ Shaky Knees Music Festival – May 3rd 2024

Entering its 11th year, the Shaky Knees Music Festival returned to Midtown Atlanta’s Central Park.  The three-day event has steadfastly remained dedicated to the original vision of founder Tim Sweetwood, with a curated lineup primarily focused on a core mixture of indie, alternative rock, punk, pop, and related genres.  By sticking to its roots, Shaky Knees has established itself as one of the premier festivals in North America and enabled it to build a core of dedicated fans who return year after year while continuing to appeal to new fans as well.

Kicking off the weekend at noon on an overcast Friday afternoon with a chance of rain that never materialized, excited fans began filtering through the multiple security and wristband lanes beside the Civic Center.  As was the case last year, the staff remained efficient, and fans quickly passed into the park to head off toward one of the four stages to start the weekend.  The layout of the festival grounds stayed unchanged from last year, with one significant difference.  The fan favorite Criminal Records stage was moved from its intimate tree-lined field to the back of the Civic Center area beside the Ponce De Leon stage.

We decided to head across the park and make our way to the large Peachtree stage to start the afternoon with the hypnotic sounds of Linka Moja.  Linka’s blend of indie, post-punk, and alternative rock was both familiar and innovative.  Word has it that Linka crossed paths with Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson, and her musical talent left a lasting impression on them.  After catching her set, it’s safe to say she left a similar impression on the fans at the Peachtree stage.

Next up was a complete change of pace.  We made our way from one end of the park to the other to catch Nashville-based punk band, Winona Fighter over at the Ponce stage.  Frontwoman Chloe Kinnon was a powerhouse with a commanding stage presence holding her own against the aggressive yet accessible sonic assault of her band mates.  An early highlight of their set was rousing take on Blur’s “Song 2,” that had the crowd “whoo-hooing” along with the song.  Winona Fighter laid down the gauntlet, as early challengers for set of the day.

The pattern of trekking from one side of the park to the other served us well and we continued it throughout the opening day, with highlights including:

  • Canadian indie rockers Metric have not lost a step despite a career that has extended beyond 20 years.  Frontwoman Emily Haines continues to exude a charisma that defies you to look away.  The band slammed their foot on the accelerator with a 1-2-3 of “Black Sheep,” “Synthetica,” and “Help I’m Alive,” and they didn’t let up.
  • Nashville’s All Them Witches delivered a healthy dose of neo-psychedelic blues rock from the Ponce stage.
  • Decked in black suits and fronted by Singer/guitarist Paul Banks in his mirrored sunglasses, Interpol played a rare daylight set.  They played songs from across their catalog, with early albums Turn On the Bright Lights, and Antics getting a bit more focus.
  • Arcade Fire’s sizeable lineup filled the Piedmont stage and frontman Win Butler literally connected with the audience, climbing down from the stage at the start of their set and out into the crowd. The performance felt like an anthemic headlining set, full of energy, interaction, and fan favorite songs.

The opening day culminated with a headline set from buzzworthy singer-songwriter Noah Kahan.  Facing a younger excitable crowd, Kahan performed songs pulled primarily from 2022’s album Stick Season.  It was hard to tell who was more excited, Kahan or his fans.

Day 1 at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2024
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography