Shaky Knees 2016 is officially underway in Atlanta, and this year the festival finds itself in Centennial Olympic Park, its fourth location in as many years. The park seems well-suited for Shaky Knees as it continues to expand, drawing bigger artists and more fans each year, but it’s not without a few growing pains. (Seriously, who thought it’d be a good idea to make thousands of drunk people have to cross a single, wobbly bridge rigged high above the street to get from one side of the fest to another? Best case scenario, you’ve got insane bottlenecks, and worst case, you’ve got a disaster on your hands.)
Paste will be at Shaky Knees all weekend. Check out the highlights from Day 1 in the gallery, read about them below, and be sure to stay tuned for the rest of our coverage from this weekend.
Matthew Logan Vasquez
The Delta Spirit frontman kept it loose for his afternoon set on the Buford Highway stage, cracking jokes and admitting to the crowd that he didn’t have a setlist prepared. No matter—he tore through material from his new solo record as well as a handful of Delta Spirit favorites (including “Bushwick Blues”) and even managed to work in Middle Brother’s “Blue Eyes.” When he came back out for an encore, he grinned and announced “Classic summer festival move: encore of the same song, motherfuckers” and reprised the song he had just finished playing. And in many ways, he nailed exactly how a summer festival set should feel—carefree, laidback, but never tossed-off.
I’m not quite sure how long it’ll take for me to stop feeling this way, but it feels really, really good to see these guys up and playing—not just because they sound excellent, but because seeing them alive and doing anything after their horrific bus crash from a few years ago still feels like a bit of a miracle. That initial feeling was soon replaced, however, with the general glee that comes from watching Baroness shred at their Friday afternoon set on the Piedmont stage.
When the majority of your songs go for the same vibe and tempo, it can sometimes be tough to hold the attention of a festival crowd full of more causal fans, but Savages had no problem keeping the crowd capitivated at their Friday evening set on the Ponce de Leon stage. From the first notes to their set-ending “Fuckers” (in which frontwoman Jehnny Beth repeats “don’t let the fuckers get you down” like a life-affirming mantra), old fans and new ones alike were eager and receptive.
The Kills never disappoint live, and their Friday night set on the Boulevard stage was no exception, as Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart slinked their way through favorites like “URA Fever,” “Baby Says,” “Tape Song” and “Sour Cherry” as well as new material from their forthcoming album, Ash & Ice. New songs “Doing It to Death” and “Heart of a Dog” fit right in with the classic Kills tracks—if the rest of the album sounds like this, its June 3 release date can’t come soon enough.
How is it that some aging rock stars are able to continue to do the same things they did decades ago—dress the same, chase the same models, purse their lips in the same way despite owning an AARP card—and we love it and applaud them, while others do the same and come off more gross and pathetic? It’s one of life’s great mysteries, and unfortunately, last night’s Jane’s Addiction set fell into the latter category as they performed Ritual De Lo Habitual in its entirety. Maybe it was the go-go dancers (one of whom is Perry Farrell’s wife, Etty) hanging from harnesses like ragdolls, or maybe it was the fact that Farrell simply can’t hit all the notes he used to, but fans started trickling out of their headlining set early, to the point that Farrell remarked “we’ve got a hardcore few here tonight.” Farrell was chatty as usual during the set, talking about how he ”[hasn’t] been the same since Bowie died” and how he loves Gregg Allman and peach iced tea (hey, work that Atlanta crowd however you can, Perry).