Live Review: Day 2 @ Shaky Knees Music Festival – May 6th 2023

After the cool spotty rain of Friday, Day 2 at Shaky Knees saw festival goers greeted with warmer weather, calming skies and even some occasional sunshine as the clouds started to break up.  With the workweek ended for many of the attendees, the crowds started to really pick up.  Despite the increased volume of fans making their way into Central Park, we still managed to breeze through the entrance, this time heading straight to the big Peachtree stage to catch an early afternoon performance from Olivia Jean.  Hailing from the suburbs of Detroit, Olivia Jean rose to prominence with garage goth band the Black Belles before embarking as a solo artist.  Jean’s early afternoon set was filled with retro surf guitar and darkly goth draped garage rock that wore its Cramps influence on its sleeve.  It was a solid performance that included songs from her new album, Raving Ghost, released just the day before.

After basking in the dark glow of Olivia Jean performing in the bright sunlight on the big Peachtree stage, the next standouts we took in were both on the smaller stages.  Buzzed-about Brooklyn indie rock trio Sunflower Bean are a band we try not to miss, and they did not let us down on the Criminal Records stage.  Mixing songs and sonic palette from across their three albums, Sunflower Bean delivered a high energy set built on straight-ahead indie rock, laid-back pop-rock, and good ol’ classic rock ’n’ roll.  Singer/bassist Julia Cumming and guitarist/singer Nick Kivlen have an undeniable chemistry on stage, drawing energy from each other that radiates through the crowd.  With each time we catch them, Sunflower Bean continues to mature and evolve without losing that spark of youthful energy.

From the Criminal Records stage, it was a short walk to catch another set that was firmly lodged at the top of our highlight reel from Day 2.  It has been a few years since we were able to catch South-London post-punkers Shame, so we made sure to take in their set and they did not disappoint.  Lead singer Charlie Steen and his bandmates seemed at home on the Ponce stage.  Steen paced liked a caged tiger as he sang, moving around the stage and leaning over the monitors to stare down the cheering fans.  At one point he jumped down on the speakers in front of the stage to further close the gap with the crowd.  Despite the larger crowd and bigger stage from the last time we caught the band, they continued to ooze confidence and swagger. With three albums now under their belt, Shame have added a bit of introspection to their songs while still delivering them with a ferocity that leaves both band and crowd a spent force at the end of the performance.  We overheard more than a few fans commenting afterwards that that they had witnessed one of the sets of the weekend.

There were other notable performances throughout the day leading up to the massively theatrical headlining set from Muse, including Suki Waterhouse, 311, Futurebirds, The Gaslight Anthem, and a Phantogram set that included a guest appearance from Big Boi who joined the band to play some songs from their collaborative EP, Big Grams.

Saturday night ended on a high with a massive crowd spilling out from the Peachtree stage to take in Muse.  The English alternative rock trio put on a performance that was equal parts theater and rock show.  The production was staggering, with a massive masked figure reaching out from the back of the stage and liberal use of pyrotechnics.  The band opened with the title track from new album Will of The People, and mixed the new material with crowd favorite hits like “Supermassive Black Hole,” and “Uprising.”  We would have loved to share some visuals from their performance, but photo access was limited and we were unable to cover the performance.  Still, like Day 1, we did manage to cover lots of other acts which you can check out below.  

Day 2 at Shaky Knees Music Festival 2023
Photos © Dan Kulpa // Clashdan Photography