The Shaky Knees Music Fest is returning to Atlanta this weekend for the fourth year in a row. This will be the fest’s biggest year yet, with it moving from Central Park to the much larger Centennial Olympic Park & International Plaza in the heart of downtown Atlanta. This year also features what is arguably Shaky Knees’ most diverse lineup. To help break it down, I have highlighted three genre-spanning artists that are must-sees for each day; one for early in the day, one in the afternoon, and a headliner. Obviously I’ll be checking out more than nine sets over the three days, so feel free to add your recommendations or must-see artists in the comments below.
Craig Finn – Piedmont Stage – 1:45pm
Craig Finn is best known as the frontman of The Hold Steady, although he is also two albums into a solo career. Last year saw the release of his second LP, Faith in the Future, as well as an EP, Newmyer’s Roof. I am always blown away by Craig Finn’s performances – his music is heavy on the storytelling, and you will inevitably be drawn into his world.
Ghost – Piedmont Stage – 7:15pm
I’ll be the first to admit that the first time I saw Ghost, I went almost as a joke. A frontman that dresses like a Satanic priest with a band of Nameless Ghouls? Who wouldn’t want to check that out? I will also be the first to admit that shortly into their set, it was no longer a joke. Even if you aren’t into the style of music, there’s no denying the talent. My only concern here is that the sun doesn’t set on Friday until 8:29pm (yes, I looked that up as soon as I found out when Ghost would be playing), so it will be interesting seeing them during the day.
The 1975 – Piedmont Stage – 9:30pm
I’ll apparently be spending a lot of time at the Piedmont Stage on Friday. The 1975 are fresh off the release of their second studio album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It. The 1975 are poppy and catchy as hell and will be a great and fun way to end the first night of the fest, especially after one too many overpriced beers.
Polyenso – Buford Highway State – 12:30pm
Hailing from my hometown of St. Pete, Florida, Polyenso recently released their sophomore album, Pure in the Plastic, after years in the making. Their indie, jazz-infused, electric sound is a great way to start the second day of Shaky Knees and they should not be missed.
Deer Tick – Peachtree Stage – 4:45pm
Deer Tick’s style is exactly what I think of when I think of summer music festivals. Their folk and blues influenced sound is relatable and hard not to like. Deer Tick recently ended a spring acoustic tour, so it will be interesting to see if their Shaky Knees set will be more pared-down than usual, but will make to a great afternoon either way.
My Morning Jacket – Peachtree Stage – 9:00pm
After assumingly having enough of Friday night’s poppy music from The 1975, I am looking forward to a different end to the night on Saturday with My Morning Jacket. Although I’m not anticipating the set being anything like their legendary 2008 Bonnaroo set, I am still expecting a great time and maybe a couple surprises.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones – Peachtree Stage – 4:30pm
I know, I know, 4:30pm isn’t early. I’m cheating here a little bit, but St. Paul is amazing and should 100% not be missed. I actually stumbled across their set at Lollapalooza last year after having recognized them in name only, and I was immediately hooked. Paul is one of those guys where you look at him and wonder how that voice comes out of a guy like that (or anyone for that matter) – and I mean that in the best way. Plus, just do a Google image search for “Paul Janeway shoes” and tell me you don’t want to watch someone who wears those on stage.
Explosions in the Sky – Boulevard Stage – 7:15pm
Explosions in the Sky just released their seventh studio album, The Wilderness. Aside from some amazing movie soundtracks, this is their first album in five years. Some people find them boring, and those people are crazy. Explosions in the Sky will be a great way to (almost) close out the festival.
At The Drive-In – Piedmont Stage – 8:30pm
I said that Explosions in the Sky would be an amazing way to (almost) close out the festival, because there’s no way I’m missing At The Drive-In. Interesting transition, but we’ll see how it works out. Actually, this headliner choice was hard for me. Florence + The Machine is also a solid, albeit very different, option. At The Drive-In also reunited briefly in 2012, but something is different this time – the promise of a new album, the first since 2000’s Relationship of Command. Hopefully we will get a taste of that to close out Shaky Knees.