Saturday at Shakey Knees Festival: Hour by Hour Coverage
Atlanta, Georgia is one of the luckiest cities in the world. Not only does it have a vibrant and rich culture, it has great sights that leave their mark in your memories. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens alone deserves endless praise how vivid and gorgeous the city is. Big, luscious green trees are in plain view along the sides of the highways, almost giving the area a Jurassic Park vibe — like any moment some huge fucking T. Rex will come crashing through the trees and terrorize the city. Atlanta is also home to Shakey Knees, a music festival that brings multiple genres best acts and place them throughout five stages at Centennial Park smack in the center of downtown.
After entering any festival, it is always a smart idea to check out the surroundings and see all that is being offered, especially when it is not as crowded early on. It’s important to find where the bathroom centers are, where the drink centers are and where each stage is so there is no time wasted moving destination to destination to watch music. We — oh yea, I should mention I went to the festival with my friend, who we will call Zebra — caught Son Little play for our first of many bands to watch. Son Little is an artist on Anti- Records (who have a KILLER lineup of artists) who meshes a bit of soul, R&B, and funky jazz into the songs. The guitar licks are fiery and rich with warm tones. But it could get filthy and dirty all at the same time, enjoying the band’s powerful sound. Son Little ended around 1:15, in which Zebra and I embarked to the main attraction for the both of us.
Fair warning: I am known to be very, VERY emotional when watching my favorite bands live, especially for the first time or after a long time. To finally indulge in Hop Along’s raw, audacious and ambitious sound absolutely blew me away. I knew every song that was played, I knew the big hooks — which sounded even LARGER than life in this setting — and rightfully had tears fall from my eyes for every song. When Frances Quinlan’s vocals would be reaching to those gritty screams, the music was just overwhelmingly intoxicating. It was empowering and by far one of the loudest yet poised sounds to be coming from only four musicians. The guitars would explode when they needed too, the leads were glimmering and the rhythms were enough to move the crowd (obviously pulling and moving my emotions to breaking points). I could probably write three more paragraphs going in depth on the sound, but just to hear my favorite songs off ofPainted Shut and Get Disowned live, right in front of me, was perfection.
It is always cool running into friends from other states. Friends from New Jersey that I had met post-tour with Hodera were there and watched Hop Along dazzle the entire crowd with me. Immediately after I ran into Julien Baker, which was great to catch up in the short moment we had to talk. Zebra and I decided it was time to get some food, as we were a few beers deep already and did not really have too many bands to go watch at this timeframe. After the pizza had been eaten, we wandered back to where Hop Along had played to enjoy Noah Gunderson, an alt-folk country artist. Gunderson stole people’s hearts with his unique vocal delivery dynamically altering the songs compositions. It was entirely hot by this point in the day, probably the hottest part of the day, so it was nice to enjoy this from afar sitting down.
This next hour was led by one of the most gifted artists ever to hit any genre that consists of ‘rock.’ Casey Crescenzo, as his act The Dear Hunter, has written more music than most artists write in their lifetime (well, released that is). Six full lengths, around 13 EPS (including the Color Spectrum), and two live albums? Are you fucking kidding me? The man has created a story arc that people find interesting enough to salivate at the thought of the writer continuing it. Every act shows how great the group is at collectively putting their musical triumphs into a progressive anthems that everyone falls in love with. Seeing songs from IV, III, and a few scattered tunes from different colors of the spectrum really was awesome, especially when I could identify them — being that there is SO, SO many songs to have chosen. Hell, The Dear Hunter even began playing one song and wove a few others in before coming back to close that song. It was “Mustard Gas” and it was INSANE.
The Deer Tick is a fun band to listen too. While I am not as well versed as I could have been, I knew listening to them has always resulted in great things, so Zebra and I wandered around the area. We found some shade by this rock-pond area and sat and listened to the music. We caught up on life at the same time, spending time to be a bit away from the music and show the importance of having friends that are worth overheating for. The Deer Tick was great, after that and before the next act we saw I ran into a follower of a website I edit for called The Alternative, which is always fun to see people actually read some of things I say or write.
The Silversun Pickups might have had one of the more diverse crowds at Shakey Knees. Parents, children and people in their 20s and older were all there to sing songs. Zebra and I sat far in the back because I have really bad crowd anxiety (go figure), but after a few hiccups in sound engineering (the snare was WAY too loud and the vocals were not on for the first song), the Silversun Pickups rocked a huge crowd into a frenzy of adrenaline that every single person was happy to hear. “Lazy Eye” happened to close the set, which as soon as I heard it I could cross off the old goal of hearing that song sung live, which was utterly fantastic.
How does one top that electric performance? Well, catching the end of The Decemberists’ definitely was soothing. Zebra and I were happy to hear the folk songs bring peace to the world and quietly end our festival day. We decided to go ride the Ferris Wheel that was right across the street, and although I have a weird and irrational fear of heights, was a great way to hear My Morning Jacket play their songs. Congratulations to Atlanta for having one hell of a place to hold a festival, in which friends from around the country could all meet and enjoy one beautiful, hot day.