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The 2017 Shaky Knees Music Festival In Review

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“Music is gathering. Taking our scattered thoughts and senses and coalescing us back into our core. Music is powerful. The first few chords can change us where no self-help books can.”

Jane Siberry

Music fans of all ages, genders and demographics took over Centennial Olympic Park this past weekend in order to see the phenomenal acts that were there for the 2017 Shaky Knees Music Festival. From Friday afternoon to Sunday night, attendees were treated to some of the best musicians the industry had to offer, some with huge critical acclaim, and others right on the cusp of greatness. The atmosphere was electric as the bands performed to thousands of individuals hanging on every note being played. Being a novice at the onslaught of music that I was going to hear, a good friend of mine informed me about his music festival policy: Treat it like a buffet. Try a little bit of everything. So that’s exactly what I did and it worked out perfectly.

Friday May 12th

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

Cage The Elephant, an American rock band formed in Kentucky, was the first band I was able to see when I arrived at the festival. Early in their career, the band relocated to London, England in 2008 just before their first album was released and that decision shines through the entire band. They were the only band to have their performance broadcast in black and white on the two enormous screens located on each side of the Peachtree stage, which made the performance look like retro concert footage.  Lead singer Matthew Shultz strutted around with the stage presence of Mick Jagger and the energy of a three year old petulant child. His aura and the fluidity of his movements held the crowd spellbound.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

LCD Soundsystem closed out the first night of the festival on the Peachtree Stage with a fantastic stage show that drew the entire crowd to their stage. This Grammy nominated band from Brooklyn, New York brought the audience to a fevered pitch with their style of intoxicating electronic dance music and closed the night out with a bang. It was at that point that we shut it down for the night because of the monster day that was ahead of us on Saturday.

Saturday May 13th

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

The smell of food trucks and the sounds of excited festival participants greeted us far before we reached the gates of the festival as we arrived for what was to be an epic day of performances on all three stages at the event (Peachtree, Piedmont and Ponce). The organizers of the festival laid out the stages in a way where the listener wasn’t fighting to hear the music from that stage they were at which added a bit of intimacy of the experience between the artist and the fan.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

 Grammy Nominated band The Record Company demonstrated their raw power of mixing old school rock and roll with the soulful styling of the Delta Blues reminiscent of the early rock and roll of John Lee Hooker. Playing their hits Off the Ground and Rita May Young, they proved that they are a force to be reckoned with to a raucous crowd.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

Having seen Anderson East perform in Macon in 2016, I thought I knew what to expect from his show. I was wrong. Anderson charged up his performance at the festival with a intriguing mix of 60’s soul music with big horns and bluesy guitar licks with the sounds of the soul revival pulsating through the veins of Americana music at this time. Along with performing his hits Learning and Devil in Me, he broke into a foot stomping rendition of the Sam and Dave classic Hold On I’m Coming and closed out his show with an awe inspiring, horn heavy performance of his song All I’ll Ever Need that the audience will be logging into their memories as one of the best performances of the festival.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

I sat down with Fantastic Negrito in the Shaky Knees press lounge prior to his performance on the Ponce stage and he seem focused and excited for the performance he was about to give. He did not disappoint. Taking the influence of Prince’s eclectic fashion on stage and portraying the power of what critic are calling Black Americana, he performed some of the songs from his Grammy award winning album The Last Days Of Oakland, including the classic Lead Belly song In The Pines. His performance will add to the meteoric rise through the contemporary blues ranks that he has been on this year.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

One of the best performances of the entire weekend was not held on the main Peachtree stage. It was held on the smaller, more intimate Ponce stage presented by Criminal Records. Lewis Del Mar, the experimental pop duo consisting of singer and guitarist Danny Miller and drummer and producer Max Harwood, dominated the festival during their phenomenal set. Possibly the highlight of their show was their rendition of Kanye West’s Runaway. The energy that was exchanged between the artists and the listeners during that moment was rich with excitement.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

Now Moon Taxi was a band that I was very excited to see. After missing their last show in Macon at the historic Cox Capitol Theatre, I was thrilled to see that they were a part of this event. The Nashville based band performed to a jam packed, enthusiastic audience at the Piedmont stage. Lead singer Trevor Terndrup masterfully led the band through their hits and then dove into a ridiculous mix of Outkast’s So Fresh So Clean, The Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams and Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall all while orchestrating the crowd to do the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop.

Another great experience that the festival had to offer was the Shaky Knees Late Night shows that were spread out throughout the city. The experience of seeing a few of the same bands that performed the night before play again in really cool venues was the plan for the night and it was a good decision. Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who performed on Friday were playing at the Masquerade Heaven along with world renowned DJ Steve Aoki’s side project Run River North.

Sunday May 14th

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

With the festival coming to a close, the final touches were being made to make sure the experience of the past two days flowed right on to the end. Festival goers, recharged and ready to dance, made their way back into Centennial Olympic Park by the thousands to see the finished graffiti mural that was being artistically created as the event was progressing, taking pictures with the performer wearing a giant David Bowie costume and snatching up Shaky Knees swag to take the experience home with them.

Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

There were two bands that I really wanted to see on Sunday before going home and these guys were one of them. J Roddy Walston and The Business completely blew the collective minds of everyone in attendance. To call them only a rock band would be a grave injustice to their musical prowess. J Roddy blasting out ridiculous blues licks on guitar behind a hyper active drum beat is impressive to see, but its when he sits down at the piano that you see the influence of every Southern Rock pianist flowing through his fingers and body movements.

  Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage

Ryan Adams took to the Piedmont stage late in the afternoon and put on a show that rivaled any show put on at either the Peachtree or the Ponce stage. With small box televisions placed strategically across the stage, Ryan’s performance was exceptional. He played all of the hits including Come Pick Me Up, laughed and joked onstage with the audience, and was one of the more personal shows that I witnessed during the weekend.

Shaky Knees Music Fesival 2017 was a great example of how to bring music from every corner of the industry together at one event. From electronic dance music complete with intricate light shows to stripped down rock and roll, the appetite of the musician at the heart of every festival attendee for an unforgettable listening experience was fulfilled without fail and left the crowd eagerly anticipating the line up for next year.

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