Article and Photos by Andrés Alvarado
Shaky Knees, WOW! Simply, WOW. For 3 days, Atlanta’s Central Park played host to one of music’s most notorious events, and boy, did this year blow expectations out of the water. Thousands of fans on hand, dozens of local eateries, over sixty musical acts, four stages, and millions of smiles! Atlantans, are you not entertained?
Day 1 of the festivities saw Jack White helm the numerous acts. While Mr. Lazaretto performed his blue-lit extravaganza to thunderous cheers and an amazing backdrop, it was David Byrne who stole the show. The Scottish sexagenarian runs a tight ship, full of all the bells, all the whistles, an entire orchestra in matching outfits, sensational choreography … and, a brain. Byrne’s pageantry is world-class and most definitely a band to catch if rolling around a venue near you.
Among other Day 1 highlights were the performances of Rival Sons and their grizzly-voiced front-man Jay Buchanan. Ezra Furman went above and beyond, in drag. Furman’s raspy delivery entices with the best of them and, added bonus, there’s a band saxophonist. Jimmy Eat World is still, yes still, one of the most dynamic pop-punk acts in Earth. Canadian duo Japandroids simply melted faces. Then we have Scottish dance-rock maestros Franz Ferdinand creating an enormous dance-party, in 80-degree weather under a blazing sun, like it was no big deal.
The middle day kept the amazing performances coming. Mikky Ekko being the biggest surprise. Built like an Olympian, Ekko is light on his feet and sweet to the ear. Darlings Greta Van Fleet kept their surging presence, well, surging. If any band has the brightest future, it’s definitely GVF. Anthony Green-led Circa Survive remains one the rawest performances out there, while Andrew W.K. put on amazing light-show, full of those revered rock-star mannerisms and special tunes. California quintet Chicano Batman was just what the doctor ordered! Soulful psychedelic rock that served as the calm before the storm. That storm being Matt & Kim! HOLY SHIT! Easily the most dominating performance of the day. M&K not only provide a party atmosphere and great tunage, but also gigantic beach balls, balloons, sex dolls, and dildos. A Matt and Kim showing is not for the faint of heart. Closing out Day 2 were the Queens of the Stone Age. Any other night, they would rule. Just not after a Matt and Kim showing, no way, no how.
Day 3 began upbeat with a marriage proposal at the Mt. Joy showing. Congrats to the happy couple, she said YES! Hell YES! Also, delivering strong performances were joyful All Time Low, folksy Lord Huron and the master of vintage Americana, Nathaniel Rateliff. However, the heavy hitters of the night were the punchy folk-punk quartet The Menzingers, Tenacious D and their cheerfully epic display, and Julian Casablancas-helmed The Voidz and their “let’s walk on the wild side” fiesta. The duties to close out with a bang landed on Ohio troupe The National. While the moody drawls of Matt Berninger were sensational, and their light display was eye-opening, the band just didn’t feel like the right bang to close out the ceremonies. The showing was not bad, not by any means, just too “dark.” In a perfect setting, closing responsibilities should have gone to Tenacious D, in our humble opinion.
Alas, the weekend lived will soon not be forgotten. The music was as unifying as ever. The food as tasty as can be. Ladies and gentlemen, the fine folks that organize the Shaky Knees Festival deserve a round of applause and a tip of the hat. Excellent job artists, wonderful job Atlanta, amazing job Shaky Knees! Till next year. Cheers!