10 Years And Counting: Shaky Knees!
Shaky Knees brought the breath of life back to Atlanta with its 10-year anniversary sold-out blowout. There was a lingering fear pervading throughout the city after Music Midtown canceled last year due to the changing landscape of gun laws in Georgia, but you could physically see that sigh of relief from folks at Shaky Knees as soon as they slid through security. It was a return to magic, a return to home. I know it was for me at least. While many work to live, I work to attend festivals with Shaky Knees being the 40th festival of my life thus far, and let me tell you this year’s festival was definitely one for the books!
There were noticeable changes made to the festival grounds this year. The Ponce De Leon stage was much further back from where the tent stage usually resides, opening up an entire alleyway of food, drinks, and vendors. The stage itself evolved into a mainstage with comparable capacity to Piedmont with tons of grass to lay out in. The official festival merch, dubbed Shaky Laundry, was located where the bar used to be for the old Ponce De Leon tent stage. This was a welcomed location change from where it used to be atop the hill at the back of the Piedmont stage area. You could easily hear bands at both the Criminal Records and Ponce De Leon stages while waiting in line for merch, and the merch tent was located near the entrance, so patrons could snag their mementos before getting into too many shenanigans.
The festival started on a rainy Friday that gave flashbacks to the gone but never forgotten Warped Tour where I spent my youth, as many of you did, standing in the parking lot at Lakewood enduring the elements to rage the rain away. My crew braved the merch line, which was honestly the move as many items sold out by Saturday, and got our shopping in early at Garage Land, the one-stop shop for vinyl, shirts, and posters. I’m a huge record guy and always stop by to buy at least one or five records while at Shaky. The good news is Garage Land will hold your items for later pickup, making it a breeze to fully send it and not worry about ruined records, which helped when I was in the pit for Be Your Own Pet and had my first Pink Cowboy Hat sighting (IYKYK). The rest of the night was stacked with Killer Mike filling in for Manchester Orchestra, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who made their first appearance in Atlanta in a decade, hard rockers Greta Van Fleet, and then The Killers closing out the night and going so hard their set had to be cut at the 11 PM curfew.
The next two days were more or less a blur as the weather turned a page into sunshine. With the rain a thing of the past, there were many motley crews and punk party animals scurrying about the festival grounds, some catching up with old friends while others made new ones in the many pits. Frisbees were thrown at the baseball diamond by the Peachtree Stage, air couches were being kited around, and smiles were a plenty as the outside world took a two-day pause to let the punk rocking commence. Opening up on Saturday was Olivia Jean, the current wife of Jack White, and following her was a slew of talent including Beach Weather, Suki Waterhouse, Wilderado, Futurebirds, Soccer Mommy, Babe Rainbow, The Front Bottoms, 311, Phantogram, The Mars Volta, Tenacious D, and then Muse to close out their 2023 American tour. Then on Sunday, the tone shifted towards somewhat chill vibes with Trash Panda, The Ries Brothers, Snail Mail, Live, Future Islands, Father John Misty, Hozier, The Flaming Lips, and then The Lumineers who played the first-ever Shaky Knees back in 2013. However, there were harder gems found on Sunday in The Aquadolls, Off!, and Fidlar where the Pink Cowboy Hat was spotted again.
Shaky Knees went hard for their 10-year anniversary. It was definitely the place to be in Atlanta this past weekend. I hope to see you in the pit next year!
Photos courtesy of Smiling Eyes Media