Shaky Knees Will Never be Coachella: Why That’s Ok

Coachella may be over, but festival season is just getting started. The popularity of music festivals is steadily growing all over the country and outdoor concerts are experiencing a resurgence reminiscent of the 1960s. This weekend Atlanta played host to its very own Shaky Knees Music Fest for the second year in a row.

Shaky Knees

Shaky Knees is a new breed of festival – located in the heart of the city, instead of a desert, grassy field, suburb, or otherwise out of the way locale, it eliminates the camping aspect that so many festivals have come to be associated with. Shaky Knees places a strong emphasis on its local roots, not only by keeping the festival within the city limits but appropriately naming the four stages after the most famous streets in Atlanta – Peachtree, Piedmont, Ponce de Leon, and Boulevard. Additionally, almost all of the vendors this year were local including a variety of food trucks, as well as the beloved Atlanta staple King of Pops.

Shaky Knees 4

In its second year, Shaky Knees stayed true to its inaugural style with a lineup composed entirely of Indie/Alternative bands including several Georgia natives like The Whigs and Packway Handle Band. With three days of music, highlights included headliners The National, Modest Mouse, and Alabama Shakes. The festival organizers truly went above and beyond by securing up and coming artists such as Lord Huron, Dawes (this writer’s personal fave), Cage the Elephant, The Lone Bellow, and Houndmouth to name just a few. Additionally, there were some familiar faces from your childhood (or maybe your older siblings’) like Violent Femmes, The Replacements, Spoon, and Dropkick Murphys. You’re not going to catch Kanye West headlining this festival (hopefully ever) nor any EDM flowing from the speakers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for Pharrell, Skrillex, and everything in between, and while Shaky Knees hosted many of the same artists as Coachella, they were exclusively the Alternative artists.

Shaky Knees 3

Other unique Shaky Knees details included the addition of an App this year which, in my opinion, should be a festival staple. It allowed you to star your favorite bands ahead of time, would notify you 15 [minutes] before they came on, and contained a map of the lineup so you could plan your show-hopping accordingly. And if you happened to miss one of the lesser-known bands you were dying to see during the regular line up, chances are they were playing one of the many late-night shows lasting until 2 AM at smaller venues around the area.

While this year was undoubtedly a success, it remains to be seen if the location will change in 2015 and who the headliners will be. It is my sincere hope that, as the Shaky Knees Fest surely continues to grow each year, it stays true to these unique and thoughtful roots. There is something to be said for quality over quantity as well as not trying to please every type of music fan out there – this may mean that Shaky Knees never grows to Coachella or Lollapalooza infamy, but it could be something better. As it stands now, Shaky Knees is a haven for people who truly love Indie and Alternative music, for those that celebrate and promote unknown artists, and that is a rare and special thing.

By Merelise Rouzer

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