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?
Festivities kicked off on day one with quite the introduction as official opening act, I Don’t Know How But They Found Me, serenaded the crowd on hand with a thank you melody for coming out to see them that early in the day. Now, all laughs aside, the Dallon Weekes-led duo was a pure fire display of new wave pop and a terrific curtain-raiser for the 2019 Shaky Knees party. Among other day one notables were the ferocious bunch behind Low Cut Connie and their energetic display of piano-infused rock-n-roll. English punk rock maniacs, IDLES, was all but idle and put on a pedal-to-the-metal mosh-till-you-drop fuck-with-your-senses wild ride of a show — a 10 on the Richter Scale. Atlanta natives, The Black Lips, drew their usual hometown fans and, per usual, killed it. California juggernauts, Incubus, demonstrated that 25+ years in the biz has yet to slow them down and rifled off hit after hit after hit, like bosses. The heritage act of the festival, Tears for Fears, drew a humongous crowd to sing-along to mega-hits like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” “Shout,” and even a cover of Radiohead‘s “Creep.” Lastly, day one headliner, Beck, was sublime, intimate, talkative, acoustic, psychedelic, and electrifying.
The middle day of Shaky Knees brought about more firepower and excellently executed presentations. Cali rockers, Liily, put on a head-banging helluva good time, and made quite an impression for their newly acquired fans. Led by the “13 Reasons Why” actor Dylan Minnette, Wallows proved they’re not just riding the coattails of fame and have some pretty amazing tunes and showmanship. Bad Books delivered a mellow and sublime 45-minute indie-rock gig that felt just perfect as a midday calm-before-the-storm type of act. Englishmen The Struts spearheaded an action-packed second half of day two with a jolting set of good ol’ classic rock-n-roll that brought the house down. By contrast, Interpol slowed the tempo with some smooth modern-day big-city sounding alt-rock and some trippy background graphics. Mr. Gary Clark Jr. was just his cool, collected, string shredding, eardrum busting, blues-rock legend self; and that was more than enough. Under a rainy night, closing ensemble, Cage the Elephant, came out guns blazing with some nice and precise tunage. Frontman Matt Shultz is a dynamo of musical excellence and show running. Simply put, Cage the Elephant made withstanding the rain worthwhile and were a perfect closer to a kick-ass day.
Day three of Shaky Knees had plenty to live up to; with days one and two utter successes. But no worries, the final Shaky Knees evening brought out invigorating displays from action-packed bands like Grouplove and their wacky, yet lovable, front duo of Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi. Among other notables were the up-and-coming Calpurnia, which drew a big crowd with the presence of “Stranger Things” alumni, Finn Wolfhard as the band’s head-honcho. British dance-rock maestros, Foals, livened up the atmosphere with a surreal and inviting set; as lead singer, Yannis Philippakis, took the time to crowd surf and walk down the aisles to get close to the fans in the back. Art pop princess, Maggie Rogers‘ stock is skyrocketing and it is no wonder why — the girl can simply slay. Festival closing duties were carried out by Aussie psychedelic cool-cats, Tame Impala — and they did not disappoint. A pageantry that included confetti cannons, lasers, hallucinogenic graphics, beautiful strobes, and otherworldly musicianship. Tame Impala concluded the festivities with a harmonious soirée of epic proportions.
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 Shaky Knees deserve a round of applause and a tip of the hat. Excellent job, artists. Wonderful job, Atlanta. Amazing job, Shaky Knees. Till next year.