Thursday, September 28, 2023

Florence and the Machine, My Morning Jacket and more transform Atlanta into music city for Shaky Knees Festival


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Story by Brinley Hineman // Assistant News Editor | Hannah Lyle // Contributing Writer 

Photo by Paste Magazine 


The Front Bottoms

The Front Bottoms performed at the Boulevard stage on Friday, opening with “Skeleton.” The New Jersey four-piece has come a long way from couch surfing their way throughout the northeast, playing shows wherever they could get an audience. They now have an impressive catalog of performances in major cities and festivals under their belt. Riddled in their performance were songs off their newest album Back on Top. A crowd favorite was their ode to lost love titled “West Virginia.” The band’s chemistry was undeniable, with them bantering back and forth with one another like old pals, only reinforcing their house show vibe. The Front Bottoms closed out their show with “Swimming Pool,” the band’s first cult hit from 2011. Lead singer Brian Sella’s purposefully amateur singing style laced the lyrics with nostalgic undertones, which only encouraged the crowd to sing louder and dance harder. -BH

Cold War Kids 

Returning for their second year at Shaky Knees Music Festival,  Cold War Kids played a lively set at Peachtree, the festival’s largest stage. Starting off the set with one of their older less popular songs, Cold War Kids sang “Don’t Let your Love Grow Away From Me” with the intention of using its slow build up in order to get the right juices flowing for their large crowd. They went on to sing their most popular songs “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “First” near the end of their set. Cold War Kids put on quite the show in order to start the night off right with other big-name bands performing after. Cold War Kids performed last year as a headliner at Nashville’s Live on the Green. -HL

The Struts 

The Struts have made a name for themselves in the United States after finding their start in their hometown of Derbyshire, England. The English rock band performed an hour-long set of classic rock style tunes with a retro twist. Named Band on the Verge by USA Today, the Struts did not disappoint their jam-packed audience. Their glam rock style was eye-catching with lead singer Luke Spiller decked out in a fringe-and-sequin-adorned jacket despite the Georgia heat. Songs on their setlist included “Let’s Make This Happen Tonight” and “Put Your Money On Me.” The Struts released a newly vamped edition of their debut album earlier this year in March. -BH

The 1975

The 1975 closed out the opening day of Shaky Knees. The England-based quartet is no newcomer to festival life after performing at Leeds Festival in 2014. Lead singer Matt Healy commanded the crowd with his powerful voice, singing favorites from the band’s debut album such as “Chocolate,” “Sex” and “Girls.” They played hit single “The Sound” which led to a jam fest among late-night festival-goers. During the ballad “A Change of Heart,” Healy paused to light up a cigarette, puffing on his pack for the remainder of the set. Overall, the band’s performance did not live up to the surrounding hype, ending the start of Shaky Knees 2016 on an underwhelming note. -BH


The Vaccines 

On Saturday, the Vaccines drew a moderate crowd to the Boulevard stage. The English indie rock outfit is no outsider to performing in front of a full crowd, after opening for the likes of the Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers. They played their 2011 hit “Post Break-Up Sex” with Justin Haywood-Young crooning heartbroken lyrics into the mic to a host of screaming people. In 2012, the Vaccines won “Best Album” for their work on What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? from NME Awards. -BH

Silversun Pickups 

Silversun Pickups took the stage next at Piedmont stage and attracted an impressive crowd, a testimony to their impression in the music scene over the past sixteen years. Surprisingly, the band had a slow start, and didn’t warm up the crowd until the fourth song “Stay With Me.” The band had undeniable chemistry after that point, jamming alongside one another and making a few friendly jabs at each other regarding their musical ability with lead singer Brian Aubert making jeers at bassist Nikki’s Monninger’s nervousness in front of the large audience. -BH

My Morning Jacket 

My Morning Jacket ended the night on the Peachtree stage, giving festival-goers a musical experience they would never forget. Packed in their two-hour set were hits spanning their eighteen-year career such as “Off the Record” and “Believe (Nobody Knows),” a crowd pleaser from their most recent album. Offering more than a musical experience, the performance contained several extensive, guitar-driven jam sessions between frontman Jim James, guitarist Carl Broemel and bassist Tom Blankenship. Towards the end of the band’s impressive set, confetti rained down on the crowd as they played “Lay Low” from their critically-acclaimed 2005 album Z. Offering tribute to Prince, the psychedelic southern rock outfit played “Purple Rain” in his memory, causing the crowd to sway back and forth in silence as they remembered the recently departed musical legend. -BH


Julien Baker 

Julien Baker started off the final day of Shaky Knees on Sunday by delivering a jaw-dropping performance. The MTSU student has come a long way from performing at local houses in Murfreesboro in a living room full of close friends. The twenty-one year old is working her way to becoming a household name across the states, with several upcoming festival performances and a European tour quickly approaching. She previously performed at Memphis in May earlier this month. The singer-songwriter performed for forty-five minutes, singing songs off Sprained Ankle to an impressively sized crowd. Crowd favorites included “Rejoice” and “Something.” Baker’s performance was undeniably the most authentic show of the weekend, with Baker standing on the second largest stage alone with just her guitar and a mic. -BH

The Head and the Heart 

The Head and the Heart played their set in front of an audience jam-packed on the main stage’s lawn. The Washington-based indie folk band performed to a rhythmic crowd, clapping and dancing along to the beat of every song. The group played a fair selection of songs ranging over the course of their eight-year career with two unreleased songs from their forthcoming album sprinkled in to the delight of listeners. The indie group has been noted as “dreamy” by Rolling Stone, and their performance was nothing short of that quality. Taking time to smile and laugh at one another while they played hit after hit, the five-piece oozed utter content at playing to a crowd of thousands in the middle of Atlanta. -BH

Young the Giant 

The crowd for Young the Giant was sitting on the edge of their seats awaiting the appearance of one of the festival’s biggest names. When lead singer, Sameer Gadhia, bounced out from behind the stage, the crowd went wild with excitement. Young the Giant chose “It’s About Time” for their opening song, causing the crowd to squeal with delight. Booming with energy, they went on to play “Cough Syrup,” “Something to Believe In” and their other popular songs off their older albums. Their energy on the stage set the tone for how wild the concert would be. They had one of the most lively and participating crowds that I had seen that weekend. -HL

Florence + the Machine 

Drawing the biggest crowd out of the whole weekend, Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine delivered quite the show. They were the last show of the festival, so Florence was bound to end it with a bang. The setlist varied from slow, to upbeat, to even acoustic cover songs. She started out with a low-upbeat song “What the Water Gave Me” and ended with the classic and her most well-known song “The Dog Days Are Over.” Some consider this hit to be about her personal journey with domestic violence and the deliverance from it, ending the night with a positive story to her audience of how things always get better. Florence delivered her audience with a performance full of dancing and jumping that would be found at a high school pep rally, even running into the crowd to be hugged by her adoring fans. -HL 

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