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Shaky Knees Festival 2024 Review

Shaky Knees Festival 2024 Review

The three-day music festival—headlined by the Foo Fighters, Noah Kahan, Weezer, and Queens of the Stone Age, among others—returned for its 11th year

Shaky Knees is a huge music festival with a big following. It has taken place annually since it was founded in 2013, focusing on indie rock, folk, and alt-rock genres. The list of previous performers is pretty impressive, including Green Day, The Strokes, The Lumineers, Dropkick Murphys, Florence and the Machine, The Killers, and Hozier, to name just a few.

It has moved around a bit within Atlanta, but is dedicated to remaining within the city limits; for the past few years, it has been held in Central Park, which has a larger capacity, allowing for around 40,000 guests.

There are four stages at the festival, with rotating shows running from 11:45 AM through to 11 PM on Friday and Saturday, and 10 PM on Sunday. The biggest acts perform on the Peachtree stage. All the stages are easy to find, and you can move freely between them as you want.

The thunderstorms that threatened all weekend finally forced their way through on Sunday afternoon, day three of Shaky Knees music festival, which was back in Atlanta for its 11th year. The weather had mostly held until then, drizzling a bit but rewarding festival attendees at Central Park with dazzlingly sunny skies and clear nights for a jam-packed lineup of bands.

The 2024 edition kicked off on Friday with Noah Kahan, Interpol, Yves Tumor, Metric, All Them Witches, Pond, The Revivalists, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Winona Fighter, Mali Velasquez, Miike Snow, and more.

Day 1 - Friday, May 3, 2024.

On Friday, the crowds swelled by late afternoon to see the Revivalists and Young the Giant, followed by a no-holds-barred show from America’s favorite Canadians, Arcade Fire, who ran Haitian flags across the stage during their set, a nod to their longtime connection to the beleaguered Caribbean country.

Their closing notes were still reverberating when, on the stage next-door, headliner Noah Kahan’s opening sounded—courtesy of a clippy schedule that left little room between acts (and was no doubt in deference to Atlanta’s strict noise curfews). In response, fans rushed down the hill—several Millennials could be spotted wiping tears from their faces after the nostalgia tsunami of Arcade Fire’s closing number, “Wake Up”—to catch the moody Vermonter, whose cataclysmic rise, thanks to the viral track “Stick Season,” has seemed to surprise Kahan more than anyone. He delivered a heartfelt, emotionally gripping set, pausing during some numbers to let an enchanted audience sing his lyrics for him, especially his last number—“Stick Season,” naturally.

Day 2 - Saturday, May 4, 2024.

On Saturday, Grace Cummings endured the only bad weather, her breathy belt reverberating through a light drizzle that lost out to sunnier skies. Chicano Batman and Girl in Red were highlights of the afternoon: the Los Angeles-based Chicano Batman enthralled fans with a high-octane, genre-bending performance, while Girl in Red—aka Norwegian Marie Ulven Ringheim—attracted a huge crowd for her low-fi rock set punctuated by highlights like “we fell in love in October” and crowd-surfed through a not-insignificant portion of her show.

Meanwhile, 90s favorites The Offspring pulled off a lively, banter-filled set that featured ample confetti and a mosh pit of enthusiastic—if increasingly considerate of their joints—revelers. By evening, crowds had swelled to well over 10,000 for Queens of the Stone Age, followed by the much-anticipated headliner, Weezer.

With lead singer Rivers Cuomo dressed dandily in a gray cardigan, the beloved alt-rock band—now proudly in their dad rock era—gave the crowd everything they’d hoped for. A hit-packed set traveled Weezer’s three decades of music, with fans singing along heartily for beloved classics like “Say It Ain’t So.” Heat lightning lit up the sky as they wrapped things up with an uproarious encore of “Buddy Holly,” giving fans young and old something to remember.

Day 3 - Sunday, May 5, 2024.

Sunday’s lineup had barely gotten started when the weather finally decided to turn. Dinosaur Jr. and Waxahatchee, performing on separate stages, both got the worst of it, but fans braved the furious downpour to enjoy both. Undeterred festival-goers stuck it out for well over an hour of rain, with the more prepared fans sheltering under raincoats, umbrellas and ponchos, and everyone else using baseball caps, blankets, or just dancing in the downpour. By the time British-American glam rocker Billy Idol took the stage with a scream of guitars, the deluge had dampened to a little drizzle, and the grounds of the festival had been transformed into a gigantic slippery mud-pit.

The bad weather didn’t seem to influence turnout in the slightest: thousands flocked to see Portugal. The Man deliver a kinetic, explosive set, with the electronic duo Matt and Kim attracting their own hoard of fans next door. By nightfall, the oozing paths and crowds of mud-streaked fans made things feel a bit like medieval London—but medieval Londoners never got to squelch in the mud while listening to Foo Fighters.

Dave Grohl and company wasted no time making good on their legendary status, delivering a stratospheric performance, well over two hours long, that pulled out every stop in the rock playbook. Dark locks flying loose, Grohl greeted the crowd with unadulterated enthusiasm, welcoming tens of thousands of listeners, evenly divided between longtime fans of the Foos and first-time concertgoers. And though most acts had chosen to avoid mention of the foul weather, Grohl seemed delighted to be closing out Shaky Knees on the tail end of a Southern spring downpour.

“I thought, with this storm—this show is never gonna happen,” he told the crowd. “But then I thought, what if it turns into a beautiful night and we get to sing some songs with a bunch of people under the stars?”

And that’s exactly what he did.

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