ReadCONTRA @ Shaky Knees 2015

By May 11, 2015 Art

Atlanta has one of this summer’s hottest music festivals, and I really mean hottest–averaging 90° in the Hotlanta sun, it only seemed like the perfect day for the array of beach-goth acts, such as Fidlar and Wavves; big-time indie powerhouses, Wilco and Built to Spill; along with an array of incredibly unique bands ranging from bedroom-pop artist Mitski to the recently reunited shoegaze group, Ride. We could go on all day about how diverse within the punk and indie community this lineup is, but one issue to keep in mind with this festival is its inaccessibility for rap and hip-hop fans.


While it makes sense for festivals such as Riot Fest to cater almost entirely to punk fans, one of the biggest festivals located in a historically thriving location for rap, it’s strange that this festival refuses to include any artists, consolidating it to mostly suburban-core bands such as The Avett Brothers and TV on the Radio. In spite of this, Shaky Knees still appears to be a net positive, offering a large showcase for incredible bands in the punk community to thrive in a large setting.

Toronto-based Metz brought the house down in the afternoon both Saturday at the fest and with an in-store performance at Criminal Records on Sunday. Fidlar’s cheap-beer (one thing missing from this festival) loving crowd was one of the most engaging and wild I’ve seen in a large festival setting for a long while. Wavves and Death From Above 1979 also got their time to shine in the afternoon sun, making for some body-odor ridden yet energetic performances.

Despite the entirely self-aware American Football performance, which gave all teenage fans a sense of closure for the band, Mac DeMarco takes the prize for best overall performance. With twangy post-surf music perfect for the onset of summer, Mac’s shows aren’t just a concert, but a comedy routine that changes every time, impersonating Chuck Berry counting into songs, taking crabcore stances playing indie music about love, and sometimes screaming lyrics in a French accent in the middle of songs just because. I must give it up for his band as well, Pierce being the best-dressed-of-the-fest for sure as he gave an unforgettable performance of Coldplay’s “Yellow,” and Andy’s digressions into the coils of reality, happy birthday again Andy, and who could forget the least-vocal of all, their drummer Pickles, so they say.

As for the crowd itself, I’m not sure if it’s the sudden onset of summer heat in Atlanta, but it’s safe to say the festival looks of 2015 will be the year of the Hawaiian shirt; yes, the time has come–while these floral and surf-ish designs have been on the rise for a while, it seems we’re at the peak of their ownership, with everyone trying to best each other in color vibrancy or odd fish tessellation.

I’m looking forward to see how this festival grows in the future, considering it’s created stacked line-ups like these in only 3 years. This is the festival the southeast needs, and I’d love to see how it evolves in the coming years in its diversity.

(Photos via aLive Coverage).

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