It’s time for the final installment of the 2021 Shaky Knees Diaries :’). So let’s dive in, but make sure you’ve caught up on Day 1 and Day 2 first!
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. – Today, we are off to a late start. After the Run the Jewels performance of the previous night, we slept in. Then, we took our time grabbing lunch at Krog Street Market and strolling through the Beltline and Ponce City Market. (Side note: Krog has some of the best food in Atlanta – like Jai Ho, the Indian restaurant I loved and Soul, which served wings that my boyfriend will literally not stopping talking about.) We were staying close enough that we could walk to the park and today, we decided we would. The gorgeous Georgia weather was on our side as Shaky Knees had fallen neatly within those two blissful weeks of the year when the weather is neither too hot nor too cold and just perfect.
2:30 p.m. – So far, we had avoided the long lines that form later in the day as most ticketholders arrive late. Today was different. As we approached the main entrance (just a few hours earlier than the past two days), there is no clear path forward. Instead, we find a sea of festivalgoers ahead of us. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long as everyone is rushed through security steadily (for better or for worse).
2:55 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – The Aubreys
The duo, consisting of Malcolm Craig and Finn Wolfhard, began their performance at 2:45 p.m. We missed the first few minutes due to the crowded gate, but we still manage to catch much of the set. They’re performing on the Criminal Records Stage, which is the perfect place for casual enjoyers to camp out and sit on the grass while still being close enough to see the action. And that’s exactly what we did. The Aubreys are laid back but charismatic, charming the audience with their jests. I could see a dedicated group of fans jumping and swaying near the stage.
3:30 p.m. – The Backseat Lovers
The Ponce de Leon stage had a crowd going way before the Backseat Lovers took their places. The front of the stage is packed and even the little hill behind the gravel lot has little room left for walking. Once the show begins, many in the audience
sing scream along with the band.
About halfway through the set, I start to wonder how Delta Spirit must be doing on the other side of the park. Out of curiosity, I’d been making mental notes about the relative streaming numbers of artists and what stage they were placed on. My conclusion is that there is no correlation, but for the most part, the Shaky Knees booking team seems to know their stuff pretty well. In this case, the Backseat Lovers outdo Delta Spirit by quite a large margin in terms of streaming. And yet, it’s the former that’s on the smaller stage. Ultimately, this worked well because the experience of a packed show in a smaller, more intimate venue suited the Backseat Lovers.
4:10 p.m. – My curiosity gets the best of me. So, we head over to see Delta Spirit perform on Zelle on Piedmont. There is a sizable crowd going with many gathering by the stage and others hanging back, enjoying the show from afar. We join the people lounging on the grass. Tired as we are, we decide to lie down on the grass and close our eyes. Delta Spirit is putting on a proper rock concert and I can feel the ground vibrate underneath me. At that point, I understand why they were placed on this very stage.
4:30 p.m.– Orville Peck
It’s time for the most enigmatic character of the entire lineup to perform. Orville Peck, the cowboy who’s never revealed his face, debuted in 2019. Despite my lack of familiarity with Peck, I could tell that festival goers were buzzing to see him live. So, we took our seats on the hill across from the Peachtree Stage. Peck was on the big screen with a wide white cowboy hat and his signature face mask. When he turned around, you could catch a better glimpse of his flamboyant jacket, which was painted with flames, a sunset, a truck on the highway, and (of course) his name. Before his performance of “Roses are Falling,” Orville sincerely asks the audience, “Have you ever loved someone so much you wanted to kill them?” If you have, he asks that you hold them close for this song.
5:00 p.m. – Ritt Momney
We left Orville’s set early to catch Ritt Momney at Criminal Records. And I will admit, I have some serious regrets about leaving Orville’s set early for a largely unremarkable performance. Oh well, we live, and we learn. Oh, and Ritt didn’t even stay for his whole set; he ended 15 minutes early!
5:15 p.m. – With the extra time on our hands, we move over to the Ponce de Leon stage and get a spot for The Aces’ 5:30 p.m. show. There is already a crowd forming. The Aces begin with their hit single “Daydream” and the audience loves them. Halfway through the show, lead vocalist Cristal Ramirez steps off the stage to sing by the barricade and the audience absolutely loses their minds. I am stunned by how her voice sounds exactly like it does on records. At some point, my boyfriend taps on my shoulder and goes, “The number of guys who were clearly brought here by their girlfriends and have no idea what’s happening is astonishing.” He was right. We were surrounded by a comical number of this exact pairing, and yes, it included us.
6:10 p.m. – We head over to Zelle on Piedmont where O.A.R. is performing. One thing I forgot to mention earlier: about one in 20 people today showed up with skeletons on their shirts à la the iconic Phoebe Bridgers look. And now, they concentrated in this exact spot, all waiting for the O.A.R performance to end to secure their spots for Phoebe.
6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – O.A.R.’s performance ends and their fans shuffle their way out of the crowd; people here to see Phoebe fill the gaps in immediately. There’s still an hour to go while Modest Mouse performs one stage over, but at least, the crowd knows how to keep themselves entertained and we get to watch the sunset behind us as we wait. Someone holds up their phone a couple feet behind me, it reads, “Anyone lesbian?”
About ten minutes before her set begins, I hear the crowd in front of us begin to chant “mommy, mommy” repeatedly, but it dies down. The crowd tightens slightly as the beginning time gets closer. A girl next to me comments, “Did everyone suddenly get taller? I can’t see anymore.” My boyfriend responds back, “I think that if everyone could just take off their Doc Martens, we’d be able to see better.”
7:30 p.m. – Phoebe Bridgers
Right on time, Phoebe’s ensemble steps out on stage clad in skeletal bodysuits accompanied by Flo Rida’s “Good Feeling” playing in the background. Phoebe herself is wearing all black with a faintly sparkly top and a blazer to top it off. This is her last stop of tour, and she begins with her most popular song “Motion Sickness.” When “Scott Street” plays, the crowd is singing along softly, but clearly; it sounds a like a lovely, haunting lullaby. To the absolute delight of the audience Phoebe plays her song “Georgia,” which has not been on the setlist for any previous shows of the tour. Of the song she says, “Sincerity is fucking humiliating but I’m coming around to it.”
When she notices a fan poster asking her about her favorite movie, she responds, “I re-watched the SpongeBob movie this year, it holds up. Anyway, this next song is about alcoholism.” Before her last song, Phoebe says she has one wish before the end of tour, she really wants a mosh pit (“I’m sorry about the tote bag bitches”). Then, she begins “I Know The End,” which builds and builds and builds until you can’t hear anything but the instrumental and screams. And then, it’s over.
8:30 p.m. – The Strokes
It’s 8:30 p.m. – time for the Strokes to perform, but they are nowhere to be seen. We get no explanation as to what’s going on. This is unusual for Shaky Knees because all the acts so far have operated like clockwork. Nearly 20 minutes pass until the band finally steps out on to stage. We have opted to watch the show from afar, where we can see the effects clearly and dance as we wish. The crowd is clearly excited to be there, but something feels… off. Leader singer, Julian Casablancas, kind of sounds like he’d rather be anywhere else. He is mumbling through the lyrics and his interactions with the crowd are subpar at best. I didn’t stay for the full set, but I did stay long enough to hear him start then immediately stop at the onset of one song (“I don’t know the lyrics to this one”).
Even dedicated fans were divided over the performance when the festival was over. Many were disappointed by Casablancas’ unprofessional demeanor and his overall performance, even ones who’d been waiting to see them for years. This was not the ending they had hoped for after an incredible weekend at Shaky. But there was another camp of fans who had a blast despite these shortcomings – it’s a rock concert after all, what did you expect?! That’s just classic Julian! Either way, when I walked out of that park with “The Adults Are Talking” fading out in the distance, I could almost see the end credits begin to roll.
So, that’s what you missed at this year’s Shaky Knees. If you want to experience it for yourself, check out the Shaky Knees 2022 lineup, which just got released! Until next time…
Buket is recent graduate of the University of Georgia (Music Business Alum) and the current Editor-in-Chief of Vinyl Mag. She believes that a sincere lover of music can find something to like in just about any song. She loves to write to escape the grueling and mindless drudgery of late-stage capitalism. She is currently on a gap year abroad, spending her free time drumming up new ideas for Vinyl Mag and trying to beat her previous Spotify Wrapped "My Minutes Listened" record.