I might be suffering from a post-concert-weekend lull. I’ve adjusted my wrist no less than a dozen times hoping to get that wristband feeling back but to no avail. Let me preface this by saying that this was written through the eyes of a Shaky Knees n00b. So you festival “veterans” can just sit back and say, “aww, bless her little heart, isn’t her newness adorable?”
I’m a music lover and, by default, I love going to festivals. Music festivals are the ideal way to discover new artists that I might like; there’s a certain sense of accomplishment in it for me. This was my very first Shaky Knees, and I’m so thrilled I got the opportunity to go. The lineup, much like the people, was an eclectic blend. So experiencing this festival was, for me, a bit like a kid on Christmas morning. I was slightly overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. Days before, I printed out the schedules and just went to town marking them up with a game plan, of sorts.
Work and weather prevented me from coming out on Friday, but when I arrived on Saturday, I stuck to “plan” and stage-hopped with the best of them. Luckily, the walk-ability between the stages made maneuvering through the crowds fairly easy. And the three stages had a personality all their own (a bit like the three bears – soft, firm, and just right). The Ponce stage was laid-back and chill. You could grab a seat in the shaded area pretty easily and just enjoy a more intimate vibe with the performers.
The Piedmont stage was where some of my favorite acts performed (though proved to be the most difficult for me to get a decent sight line on because inevitably … INEVITABLY the tallest guy at the concert will make his way right in front of me).
And the Peachtree stage was the largest of the three. But, thanks in part to huge monitors flanking the stage and the amazing jib-camera work, there was not a “bad seat in the house”.
When I arrived on Sunday, I took a whole different approach. I parked myself in front of the Piedmont stage and took in the lineup there as it was given to me. I arrived early and had a great position, right behind the barricade. The argument for stage-hopping versus stage-plopping is simply variety versus view. I was able to see the bands that I wanted by going stage to stage, but I couldn’t ignore the charm of the front-row view when I stayed at the one stage. As Ryan Adams joked when the masses began to pile in after The Shins set on the Peachtree stage, “Oh god, here they come. Here they come. Hold your positions.” And that’s exactly what it felt like!
Stage analytics aside, the music was amazing! Flagship was the first act that I took in, and I swear that the frontman was a Jamie Dornan lookalike! The Charlotte-based band was fun, and you could tell that they really enjoyed playing the crowd: “Will you guys just cheer for anything I say? … Who likes lunch?” And, of course, the crowd exploded in cheers and laughter.
Anderson East was another memorable artist for me. When there’s a trumpet and a sax in the band (or, in his own words, “my bad a** horn section”), you know it’s going to be good. East had a bluesy, old-school, melodic vibe; I’d describe him as a smooth crooner.
Run River North and Mondo Cozmo played back-to-back on the Ponce stage, and both are definitely getting added to my Spotify! Mondo Cozmo covered “Bittersweet Symphony” at one point and, because that song instantly takes me back to the movie Cruel Intentions, that pretty much makes you good in my book. They were fun, non-pretentious, chill rock, and you’d never guess it, but this was their first festival!
Bishop Briggs was energetic and “bass-droppy” (if you will). It really amazed me the way her incredible voice filled the air. Catfish and the Bottlemen certainly had a following out in full-force. The crowd loved this British rock band, and I fell in love every time he said “Atlanta” (and he said it often, as if to not forget where he was).
Some Sunday notables for me were: Whitney, Hamilton Leithauser, and Ryan Adams. Adams puts on an incredibly fun show, though I have to admit that his ballads are where it’s at for my tastes. He’s quirky live, and I really just wanted to brush the hair off his face. But my most-anticipated act this weekend was Bleachers, and I was thrilled to finally be able to see them live. There was a very brief technical delay, but once they got going, they really packed in an incredible performance!
As far as the sights and sounds off the stages, there was plenty to see there as well. The people-watching this weekend was on point, and the festival fashion had me in awe! Glittered and embellished faces. Floral headdresses and lacy, revealing tops. Yessss ladies, the flowy sundresses gave me life, and this backless number worn by Blakely from Columbus, GA was a real show-stopper!
I wish I’d known to bring a water bottled with me because the water station was super convenient and oh, so smart. Good thing the merch tent had a really reasonably priced Shaky Knees-branded water bottled for sale … SCORE! From sunscreen to sunglasses, in addition to the water bottles, it was great to see everyone keeping protected and staying hydrated! Anywhere you saw shade, there’d be bands of people squatting there.
All in all, it was an incredible weekend for me to take in, and I will definitely try to go again in the future. Next time, my plan is to go with friends. That way, when I decide to sacrifice and stage-plop, I can at least take food and bathroom breaks. ‘Til we meet again Shaky Knees, ’til we meet again!