The last music festival I attended was over five years ago: Vans Warped Tour in 2012 (that is, if you consider the traveling, one-day, rock gathering a music festival). That changed when I got to attend Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia thanks to WSOE. I grew up visiting family in Atlanta so I felt right at home parading around Centennial Olympic Park in my music festival attire. Shaky Knees is a fairly small music festival, but this makes sense seeing as the festival is limited to a small park in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Regardless of the size, the band lineup was packed with some big names that I was excited to see.
There were so many great artists, but for the sake of your time, I’ll only highlight some of my favorites. Sylvan Esso, a local indie pop duo from Durham (!!!), was one of my personal favs. How have I not listened to them before?? Their song “Radio” has been stuck in my head since hearing it at the festival. Other favorites include: “Coffee,” “Hey Miami,” and “H.S.K.T.” This group was a lot of fun and you should definitely check them out. If they aren’t already considered a big name, they absolutely will be soon.
The X Ambassadors played on the second evening right at sunset and they did not disappoint. They’re most notably known for “Unsteady,” which was really fun to experience live. Their lead singer, Sam Harris, pranced around in an all white outfit while occasionally playing the saxophone that he had strapped around his neck. Let me tell you, there are few things I love more than a live band with a saxophone. The X Ambassadors were amazing, and if you need songs to check out, some of my personal favs are: “Low Life,” “Gorgeous,” “Naked,” and the ever popular “Renegades.”
On the second evening, we (my WSOE co-host Dani and I) decided to skip the majority of The XX’s set in order to catch Rainbow Kitten Surprise, a local band from Asheville, playing a late night show on the other side of downtown Atlanta. RKS is currently one of my favorite bands and since we didn’t get to see them perform on the first day of Shaky Knees, there was no way I was missing this second chance. I could write a novel solely on the adventure we took to see RKS, but I’ll give you the condensed version. RKS went onstage at 1:15am- this is perfectly fine unless you are a grandma like me and exhausted from a long day in the sun. They played until 3am and I may have been delirious but I loved every minute of it. My favorite moment was when the bassist Charlie (who I may or may not have fallen in love with during the show) pranced up to his microphone in the middle of the show and announced in the most monotone voice, “We’re Rainbow Kitten Surprise… surprise.” This band is one of the liveliest and energetic bands I have seen live, constantly jumping and dancing around. I highly recommend that anyone and everyone listen to RKS, they will not disappoint. Some of my favorites: “All That and More,” “Cocaine Jesus,” “Mr. Redundant,” and “That’s My Shit.”
The most memorable performance from the weekend was Bleachers on the final day of Shaky Knees. Bleachers is Jack Antonoff’s (previously in Fun. and producer/writer for the likes of Lorde and Taylor Swift) new project. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard Bleacher’s “I Wanna Get Better” on the radio. Again, I could write a novel on how amazing Jack Antonoff is but I’ll save that for another day. Bleachers’ set was beginning during the middle of Third Eye Blind’s, and this created some trouble because inner middle school me just NEEDED to hear “Semi-Charmed Life” live. In a fortunate compromise, Bleachers’ had some technical difficulties and I was able to at least hear Third Eye Blind play “Never Let You Go” and “Jumper”(!!!) The entire crowd waiting to hear Bleachers sang along to Third Eye Blind and it was truly magical. Bleachers sang along as well and informed the crowd that it was okay and they understand (if you don’t understand the joke, listen to “Jumper” and then read this again). Anyway, Bleachers was incredible. They also had a saxophone and you already know how I feel about saxophones. I’ve had “Everybody Loves Somebody” playing on repeat for weeks and I don’t see it going anywhere soon. I love their entire album Strange Desire, but if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, listen to: “Rollercoaster,” “Wild Heart,” “Hate That You Know Me,” and “Don’t Take The Money.”
It’s been two weeks since I attended Shaky Knees Music festival, but it feels like I was there yesterday. They have done their job well, because if I’m in the area this time next year then you’ll catch me here again. I highly recommend this festival, as it’s not a bad distance from Elon. It is on the smaller size but this has its benefits- it’s easy to get between performances and everyone in the crowd is extremely friendly. Not to mention, the band line-up was great! But my only question is… when do my knees stop shaking??