Shaky 2021: A Weekend Highlight Reel

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Alas, a magnificently Shaky Knees weekend has again shaken, grooved, and jigged its way through our lives, now soaring onwards to next year. Whether you caught the magic this time around or not, I’ve got ya covered.

Black Pistol Fire © Emily Butler Photography

Kicking off the weekend with Glove
The weekend was off to a beautiful start with an early performance of stylistically vibrant dance-rock band, Glove. My high expectations were soaring, and instantly met by this lively group. Glove were the perfect fit (wink) for the weekend’s formative, inaugural performance of alternative talent.

Next up: Mayhem at the White Reaper pit
The intuitive talent of the White Reaper fellas swept the audience into a frenzy of mosh and dance. From the euphoric, intimate pit of fans, to the crisp autumn breeze, this set was everything it could’ve been and more.

Afternoon dazin’ at Cults

Cults © Emily Butler Photography

Thousands sprawled across the grass before the Piedmont stage to brace a widely anticipated Cults set. Cults blissfully welcomed the weekend by casting a lively mood and warm glow over the energy of the festival—as well as good fortune. It was during this set that a few friends and I casually ran into Dominic Fike!

Finishing off the evening with Black Pistol Fire

Black Pistol Fire © Emily Butler Photography

Black Pistol Fire gave an electrifying sunset show Friday evening. This fierce two-man act produced enough sound to compensate a rowdy noise band, effectively winding down the light of the day by igniting the fire of the night.

A midnight snack: IDLES @ the Masq

IDLES © Emily Butler Photography

What better space for IDLES to nearly break the floor of, if not the Masquerade? Ceaseless movement and passion encompassed the IDLES late-night show—a niche intensity that we’d prepared for. Though the next day’s festival set still wreaked havoc upon mosh participants, seeing these brusque brits in such an intimate venue was the angsty experience one dreams of their IDLES gig to be.

Saturday starts with a few Geese
I was stoked to begin the second day of Shaky with Brooklyn-based rising punk band Geese. They naturally ooze the same urgency and authenticity found ringing through singles like “Low Era” and “Disco.” Geese have singlehandedly ushered a momentum of excitement through the post-punk scene, set to flourish beyond the fringes of New York’s underground. Bringing a refreshing blend of noise rock and progressive melodies, each song was a compliment of the next.

Cloud Nothings under the clouds
A mid-day surge of excitement was effortlessly brought on by Cloud Nothing‘s set, despite a calm crowd of seemingly introspective onlookers. Nevertheless, Cloud Nothings delivered on the rocked out energy that the rest of us were there for.

Garbage & The Hives: a back-2-back mania of fun
Equally as nostalgic as they were unfamiliar and empowering—Garbage came ready to reveal an entirely fresh version of themselves, different to what many remember them as. Frontwoman Shirley Manson enamored the crowd with her charm and down-to-earth yet expressive speeches. Between songs was fluid engagement with the audience, and a passionate dedication to issues like systemic misogyny and racism, as well as the internet’s tight grip over our self image and idealizations. As someone admirably known for using her platform to speak on pressing matters, Manson’s compelling stage presence made Garbage all the more meaningful.

The Hives still being those rousing, rambunctious Swedes

The Hives © Emily Butler Photography

The Hives put on a headliner-worthy show that swiftly attracted the whole festival their way. Although me and my friends had made it up to the front for their set, we’d looked back in the midst of the mania to find a swarming park behind us. It’s because The Hives are resolute attention-grabbers, known for giving their music an added layer of commotion through audacious live performances. Frontman, natural charmer, and feisty performance artist Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist made sure I’d never forget this fact, as he held the hands of me and my friend and spared a cheeky Swedish wink before ascending up the barricade gap.

The Hives © Emily Butler Photography

Portugal the Man grounds and uplifts us all at once

Immaculate energy quickly and pervasively surrounded the main stage as the sun set on Saturday night, thanks to Portugal the Man’s dazzling sound and lights, mind-altering visuals, and intermittent well-informed social takes. Throughout, we were invited into the world of insight and honor that Portugal the Man operates within: one that makes an initiative to learn, embrace, and respect the indigenous lands we exist upon. This message sweetly set the tone of the show, spreading a comforting veil of acceptance and gratitude over the crowd.

Delta Spirit and some spirits to commence the holy day
The last day of a festival invites a mysterious energy—one slightly melancholy to have reached the end, but equally as elated to ravage the park grounds from pure emotion. This kind of feeling encapsulated Delta Spirit, which was profoundly needed to remind us Shaky attendees that the weekend was far from over.

Orville Peck swoons the entire city of Atlanta in one go

Orville Peck © Emily Butler Photography

Orville Peck’s astonishing presence, both on and off the stage, is enough to unify any given set of opposing groups. So, you can imagine the effect it had on our deliriously laxed out, mid-afternoon crowd of indie fans. If the effect you were thinking was a collective eruption of square-dancing, you’re completely right. Draped in only the swankiest and most refined cowboy fits imaginable, Orville Peck & his band—both visually and sonically—served as the premium highlight of Shaky Knees 2021.
(p.s. I spotted this dashing cowboy in all of his masked glory while backstage—can now confirm that his charm knows absolutely no bounds).

The Strokes I repeat, The Strokes

The Strokes © Emily Butler Photography

The Sunday recap is moderately concise since 75% of the day was spent aggressively anticipating this, which was only the most anticipated show of my life. For that reason, recalling the sequence of events that comprised this set is hard for me. It felt like a genuine emotional black-out from the first reverberation of “Hard To Explain,” to my shoulder-descension following “Automatic Shop.” What I can most definitely recall, however, is that the dudes seemed tired, but nevertheless very proud of their loyal Atlantan turnout and the rabid energy we brought for them.

Featured photo: The Strokes © Emily Butler Photography

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