This year’s Shaky Knees Festival took place in Atlanta’s Central Park from May 8-10. The festival features over 50 bands on 4 stages over the course of 3 days. This is the third year of execution for Shaky Knees and its third location. Following the confines of Old 4th Ward Park and the Midtown Atlanta outdoor mall Atlantic Station locations, this year the venue was a combination of Atlanta’s Central Park and the surrounding area of the Atlanta Civic Center. The location was a great fit for the large crowds and created an old-school festival feel. Many seasoned festival-goers recalled fond memories of the old Midtown Music Festival when it was the same location more than a decade earlier.
The Strokes headlined the Friday night line-up on the Peachtree Stage.
Shaky Knees founder Tim Sweetwood, a promoter with Atlanta-based company The Bowery Present South, considers the leap between last year and this year a “natural growth.” Indeed, Shaky Knees is a festival designed for music lovers. Organizers have been careful not to choose too-large venues, like Piedmont Park, so guests don’t have to walk far to get to the stages.
The lineup was a strong follow up to last year’s star-studded headlining acts. The Strokes generated the most excitement leading into the weekend and they did not disappoint! Other highlight performances included Wilco, Built to Spill, Avett Brothers, Ryan Adams, and The Pixies. Social Distortion played a high energy set that celebrated the 25th anniversary of their self-titled album. Kristen Laffler, VIP Manager for the festival commented, “Tim Sweetwood produces Shaky Knees in a way that makes it a unique and personally meaningful journey for every artist, department manager, and patron.”
Kristen Laffler, VIP Manager for Shaky Knees Festival in front of the Piedmont Stage
The set up made it accessible to move from stage to stage with landmarks like the food tricks and giant skull with glowing eyes to guide your way through the crowd if you got lost. The blistering Atlanta weather made the walk a sweaty one that was best accompanied by a cold Dos Equis or a King of Pops popsicle, two of the festival’s sponsors. Other sponsors included Jack Daniel’s, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, W-Hotel, El Jimador, and Songs For Kids.
Late night shows were held at various venues in Atlanta like The Loft, Terminal West, and Masquerade and regardless of how tired your feet were from walking, the shows were worth it. James Blake played the Kickoff party, while Snowden, The Shadowboxers, Portugal, The Man, amongst others jammed Friday, while Diamond Rugs, Milky Chance, and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls played on Saturday night.
While VIP guests enjoyed couches and personalized bars, general admission had access to tons of shaded areas scattered around the park and plenty of sunlight to get a nice tan. Electronic check-ins at various points made getting in and out simple and painless.
FOOD AND DRINK
The eighteen local food trucks maintained long lines throughout (I personally tried four of them), keeping music fans well fed and satisfied throughout the weekend. The VIP package included fall-off-the-bone BBQ from Fox Bros. Catering at lunch and dinner times.
Tons of Atlanta hot-spots made an appearance with their food trucks like Bhojanic that serves home-made Indian fare, Roti Rolls food truck, voted best food truck in Charleston, SC since 2010, and BearClaw Coffee Co. which kept festival-goers awake and upbeat all day long!
Drink lines were never long and for the more than fair price of $27, you could “hydrate” with an entire bottle of wine. All the bartenders were accommodating and super friendly.
If you’re flying into Atlanta in lieu of the fest, it’s easy enough for even the most directionally-challenged person to find. The festival is 16 minutes away from the Atlanta Airport via I75-S.
The easiest way to the festival and the surrounding area was Uber and Atlanta’s public transportation system, MARTA. Nearly identical to the New York subway, the MARTA ran late and had stops at all the main areas of the city. There was public parking within a few blocks of the venue and citizens were more than willing to help a lost soul find their way to the festival.
The Atlanta Bike Coalition offered free, secure, and easy-to-use bike parking every day during the festival. No lock necessary, as a valet attendant watched and secured all bikes.
If you’re not crashing with a friend, Shaky Knees was able to partner up with a bunch of surrounding hotels to make sure travel to-and-from the fest was easy peasy. Here are surrounding hotels you can start booking for next year.
Sheraton Atlanta Downtown—165 Courtland Street NE, Atlanta, GA, 30303 866.573.4235
Hilton Atlanta—255 Courtland St NE Atlanta, GA, 30303 866.678.6735
Atlanta Marriot Marquis—2365 Peachtree Center Ave NE Atlanta, GA, 30303, 866.767-0278
Motel 6 Atlanta Downtown—311 Courtland Street NE 75 South Exit #249 Atlanta, GA, 30303, 866.538.0251
If the past three years are any indication, Shaky Knees will undoubtedly continue to evolve into one of the biggest festivals in the south. As Laffler stated during her interview with FestPop, “Shaky Knees continues to raise the bar for not only the Atlanta music scene, but for the entire southeast.” Bigger and better venues coupled with strong lineups are the winning formula that has resulted in the festival becoming a destination for locals and music tourists alike. Shaky Boots, the country-focused spin-off festival of Shaky Knees, set for the following week at Kennesaw State University solidifies Shaky Knees’ success.
Written by FestPop Staff Writers
JD Doughney and Sarah Kelleher
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