Last weekend, amid some cloudy skies, and a surprising amount of people given reports of festivals having trouble moving tickets, Central Park in Atlanta was once again host to a spectacular roster of up and coming rock acts, as well of mid card and upper level headliners that were just still just as exciting as anything new.
The park is wonderful, with hills between the two main stages, accompanied by plenty of trees that lined the pathways of most of the main road ways. This being my fourth time at the festival the, grounds were familiar, but the dust this year in the food area was a particular difficulty during the time I spent there; however, there was not much that could honestly be done regarding that when you have that size of a crowd. Still, owner and creator, Tim Sweetwood and his company delivered one of the best, most consistent lineups of the year, yet again. If you were there, I hope these bands and moments give you the same thrills they did me.
You never quite know what or who might draw you in at a festival like this. Other times, you don't know the amount of surprises you might get over the course of a weekend filled with music. One of those for me was My Morning Jacket, who was fantastic, but I wasn't certain of that while going into the fest's performance finale. While it was my first "Jacket" show (which some friends, hardcore MMJ fans, reffered to it as.) Even so, the two hour set impressed me more than the records, the energy was strong, and the fanbase made it better. For years I had felt like I was missing something, which turned out to be seeing the band live. Truly a performance worthy of a closing festival slot.
Furthermore , on Saturday, CHVRCHES Lauren Mayberry, singer and joker elite, found herself covered in fake blood during the final moments, ensuring fans went crazy. Finally you have Belarusian synth industrial upstart Molchat Doma, who blew away a crowd much bigger than I initially thought, given some considerable opposition from Mt. Joy--not that it was warranted.
THE VIBES & ENVIRONMENT:
One of the best parts of any big event where music is the focus is the way that translates to the style. Of course band shirts are the vast majority of attendees wear of choice, but for a devoted section it's all about accessories and having fun in a world unlike our normal everyday routines. Throughout the fest, there was ghoulish makeup, but more primarily happy, festival glitter and upbeat concepts like bright unicorns of some sort of majestic creature roaming freely among the grounds of the festival. Oftentimes, the lights at night amplified mood lightning for more escape and cooler effects on the makeup and costumes of some revelers.
THE EPIC PERFORMANCES:
For the opening day of the fest, two doozies both played within three hours to the same packed tent. The first of those two bands, Montreal, Québec's seven piece apocalyptic orchestra Godspeed You! Black Emperor demonstrated for the unfortunately short time of one hour, just why they've been able to captivate fans for as long as they've been able to. The set was epic, tense, emotional in all the normal ways, while the other band, Philly's Mannequin Pussy exposed a packed, eagerly anticipating audience to an hour of authentic, female-fronted with bone-crushing guts notes, riotous fun in the pit, and plenty of acceptance among the crowd as lead vocalist Missy Dabice waxed poetic in the band's name, as well as discussing the mainstream apprehension of saying the last word in their name.
Friday wasn't the only day with the energy overflowing from a performance on the Ponce De Leon tent, where on Sunday the four piece Pup closed out the weekend with a punk rock master class as the minutes ticked away, drawing closer to the finale of Shaky Knees as an hour's worth of hysterically dark lyrics gave the crowd just enough juice to go crazy as the set exploded in a contagious wave of singing and dancing.
While Pup, Godspeed, and many others were great choices for someone wanting to be mesmerized, the chaotic hour that saw King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizards dominated the Piedmont Stage, directly before Nine Inch Nails on the opposing stage. Starting with some of their thrasher tracks, the Stu McKenzie led juggernauts drowned by the excited crowd in heavy reverb, as thousands sang along to dystopian anthems "Mars for the Rich" and "Planet B."
Festival lineups often have similar ideas when it comes to what's called "legacy acts," and with all the headliners adding something unique and different, including Green Day's nearly all-popular, singles-filled set. Don't get me wrong--it was fantastic, except for some early muffled sound issues, but just like Nine Inch Nails and My Morning Jacket in successive days, Green Day played to their strengths, all while having a crowd at their best and loudest. For people like me, seeing the boys from the Bay after all these years proved the staying power they have and how they're still able to connect and resonate with a much younger card.
In similar fashion, the Reznor-led Nine Inch Nails, notorious for the high energy intensity of both the music and the light show didn't disappoint a substantial crowd of old school fans familiar with all the hits as well some other obscure selections that are more rare. All in all, the creators and producers of the event showed yet again that they can deliver a weekend of music that left everyone smiling as we left the magical city park. For a fest named after a lyric from the Jim James led My Morning Jacket, pity lived up to its name. Plenty of knees were shaking in dance and celebration to some form of normalcy.
Until next time, thanks for another amazing weekend, Shaky Knees.