The Atlanta festival returned for a fifth year with some of the biggest and most exciting names in alternative music
It’s not just London’s Olympic Park that has been repurposed to host massive music events once the games are over. This weekend (May 12-14), Shaky Knees festival transformed downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park into a musical paradise, bringing everyone from unknown newcomers to worldwide renowned stars with it.
The festival’s fifth year was nothing short of a success, with fans lapping up a variety of sounds and not even a sudden downpour dampening the spirits of those in attendance. With skyscrapers glittering in the background and stellar performances across all three stages, the three-day event was as scenic and exhilarating as an urban festival can be.
Taking place in Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, Shaky Knees gave the city’s music fans the opportunity to experience some of the biggest and most exciting names around right now over the course of three jam-packed days.
Frank and his band were one of the first to perform at this year’s edition of the festival, now in its fifth year. Despite the heat, Frank still brought his trademark ferocity to the performance, all while wearing a pinstripe suit.
Car Seat Headrest were one of the early draws on the Peachtree Stage, showcasing the winsome indie-rock of latest album ‘Teens Of Denial’ in a blistering set.
Over on the Ponce De Leon stage, hosted by local record store Criminal Records, Twin Peaks rattled their way through a breakneck set that boasted tracks from latest album ‘Down In Heaven’, as well as earlier, scrappy garage-punk gems like ‘Flavor’ and ‘Stand In The Sand’.
LA’s FIDLAR opened up the pit over on the Piedmont stage on Friday (May 12) and provoked a huge singalong with a cover of Weezer’s ‘Undone (The Sweater Song)’. “I only want to see girls in the moshpit,” frontman Zac Carper told the rowdy crowd at one point. “No dick on the dancefloor!”
Nashville’s Cage The Elephant warmed up the Peachtree Stage audience ahead of LCD Soundsystem’s headline set with a triumphant performance that saw singer Matt Shultz leaping off stage to get closer to their fans. “There’s enough hate out there in world. Let’s celebrate love tonight,” he instructed them.
Pixies closed out the Piedmont Stage on the first night, racing through some of their finest hits, including an opening 1-2-3 of ‘Gouge Away’, ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ and ‘Monkey Gone To Heaven’.
LCD Soundsystem gave the pair of new songs released earlier this month their festival debut, but saved both ‘Call The Police’ and ‘American Dream’ until the final throes of their set.
Throughout their near two-hour performance, leader James Murphy joked around with his bandmates and the crowd as the group wove their way through a masterful set that included tracks like ‘Movement’, ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’.
Catfish And The Bottlemen treated an appreciative crowd to tracks from their first two albums in the mid-afternoon heat. Some fans chanted and held signs requesting the band to play ‘Rango’, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Sylvan Esso celebrated the recent release of their second album ‘What Now’ with a performance that got everyone in front of the Peachtree Stage trying to copy singer Amelia Meath’s dance moves.
New York newcomers Lewis Del Mar brought lush electronic pop to the Ponce De Leon stage, including a stunning cover of Kanye West’s ‘Runaway’.
Saturday night’s main attraction, though, was The xx, who drew one of the biggest crowds of the festival as they played tracks from their latest album ‘I See You’ and more.
“I usually dedicate this song to all the couples, but I feel like you get enough admiration from each other,” Oli Sims told the crowd before ‘Dangerous’, dedicating it instead to all the single people watching. Shortly after, the trio concluded a sublime performance with a flawless rendition of ‘Angels’.
Whitney kicked off the third and final day, their summery songs sounding even more blissful in the Georgia heat.
LA’s Warpaint brought their own inimitable groove to the Piedmont Stage later that afternoon, with Jenny Lee Lindberg’s elastic basslines driving their set.
Technical difficulties threatened to halt Bleachers’ performance, but Jack Antonoff and his band made up for the slow start with an urgent set full of euphoric cuts and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’.
The Shins were the penultimate band to perform on the Peachtree Stage and delighted the audience with fan favourites like ‘Phantom Limb’ and ‘New Slang’.
Phoenix brought the festival to a close with a phenomenal and visually-pleasing set that saw them utilise a giant mirror hung at an angle behind them to create the best set of the weekend.
During their headline slot, the French group previewed material from new album ‘Ti Amo’, while frontman Thomas Mars ended the set by climbing the rigging by the sound desk and attempting to crowdsurf back to the stage. Read our full review of Phoenix’ set.