Atlanta’s Shaky Knees festival, returned once again for its 9th iteration April 29th–May 1st, 2022. The three-day-long festival boasted a stacked lineup of 60 bands across four stages, with a broad range of musical tastes represented. Whether you came for headliners like Green Day, Nine Inch Nails, My Morning Jacket, or some of the “small print” bands like Reignwolf and Acid Dad, you definitely left the festival feeling like you got more than your money’s worth. Here are some of my favorite sets from the weekend:
As I entered the festival’s gates, I was treated to New York’s alt-psych rock band Acid Dad’s performance on the Criminal Records stage. Their melodic, trippy rock sounds would be perfect for the soundtrack to a Hunter S. Thompson film. I did a quick portrait session with the band, and they were incredibly nice. I have to say their style matches their sound.
After Acid Dad’s set, I made my way over to the Piedmont Stage to catch Atlanta native Faye Webster. The crowd went wild for her performance and even had some signs to show their support. Canadian American singer Grandson had probably one of my favorite performances of the weekend. His intense and energetic performance got the crowd moving, despite the Atlanta heat. There ended up being a medical emergency with a concertgoer in the audience, and Grandson stopped the show so that medical personnel could attend to the individual. Given the somewhat recent tragic events at Astroworld, it was a relief to see both Grandson and Shaky Knees festival promoters have fans’ safety a top priority and take swift action in an emergency situation.
One of the first acts I saw on Saturday was Djo. If you have never heard that name before, maybe the name Joe Keery, or his Stranger Things character Steve Harrington might ring a bell. Djo is the heartthrob actor’s psych-pop solo project, and I was immediately intrigued by the music. It had a very laid-back vintage 80’s synth sound that left my head bopping and toes tapping. Next up was Reignwolf on the Ponce de Leon stage. Reignwolf is a two-man band consisting of singer and guitarist Jordan Cook and drummer Joseph Braley. Cook put his whole body into the performance, jumping off the drum kit, climbing on the shoulders of a security guard while playing guitar, and eventually snapping the neck of his guitar off at the end of the set. It was one of the most chaotic performances of the day, but I became an instant fan.
It was finally time to see Phantom Planet on the Criminal Stage. This set was one I was really looking forward to. I have been a Phantom Planet fan since the early days when their song California was the theme song to the hit teen drama The O.C. It was surprising to see such a beloved band on one of the smallest stages of the festival. That didn’t matter though because it was evident that I was not the only one excited about the band’s set. The large field in front of the Criminal Stage was the most packed I had seen it all weekend.
Some other note-able performances on Saturday were Scottish pop group Chvrches led by the powerful frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, Los Angeles garage punk rock group The Regrettes, and prog psych-rock band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Closing out the night on the festival’s Peachtree main stage was Nine Inch Nails. The band took to the stage with their infamous smoke and strobe lighting setup and played an amazing mix of their large discography, including fan favorites like “The Perfect Drug,” “Closer.” “Head Like a Hole,” and “The Hand the Feeds”. The band closed out the night with their critically acclaimed song “Hurt”.
The last day of Shaky Knees was probably one of the most laid-back in terms of performances. Starting off the day, I caught 70s revival blues-rock band Dirty Honey’s set and they set a high bar for the rest of the day’s performances. They are not another gimmicky revival band. They are the real deal and hope to attend another show of theirs in the future. Death Cab for Cutie took to the Peachtree stage on early Sunday evening, starting off with probably one of the longest songs in their discography, “I Will Possess Your Heart “clocking in at over 8 minutes. Frontman Ben Gibbard kept the crowd’s attention as he moved from guitar to piano. Further in the set, Gibbard performed their most well-known song “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” as an acoustic solo and then closed out their set with “Bixby Canyon Bridge.”
The last headline act of the weekend was Kentucky-based rock band My Morning Jacket. Frontman Jim James masterfully played his guitar as his hair flowed wildly in the cool evening breeze. A fun piece of trivia is that the namesake of the festival comes from the lyrics of the My Morning Jacket song “Steam Engine” which they did, in fact, play for the crowd. Overall, the 2022 Shaky Knees Festival was a huge success, and I am extremely excited to see what is in store for next year.