May 12, 2018
Another Shaky Knees has come and gone. With each passing year, the festival continues to reach greater heights, and 2018’s edition was assuredly one for the books. This year featured one of the most prominent lineups in the festival’s history, with acts like The National, Queens of the Stone Age, David Byrne, Fleet Foxes, Jack White, and so many more. Of course, Shaky Knees always makes sure to provide the lesser-knowns acts as well, and this year had something for just about everybody who enjoys live music, whether it was the nostalgia of The Menzingers, or the free-for-all musicianship of The Voidz, the experimental project from Julian Casablancas of The Strokes.
This year’s festival also featured a return to Central Park, where Shaky Knees was held in 2015 before moving to Centennial Olympic Park for the last two years. Central Park offers a more intimate sonic experience for festival goers, with smaller stage areas and masses of trees to keep the different sets from bleeding together. Central Park’s shady groves also kept everyone cool in the moments of unbearable heat, which were few and far between, with cloud cover, strong breezes, and a short rain shower over the weekend.
As per usual, the weekend’s crowds were innumerous, while most of these hordes were scattered around different stages throughout the conflicting schedules of the day, everybody gathered to see the nightly headliners. One of the most consistently stunning moments of the festival is the closing one and the last song from the headlining band of the weekend, where everyone gathers to send Shaky Knees out with a bang.
This year, The National wrapped up with a tear-jerking rendition of their song “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks” wherein frontman Matt Berninger emphatically encouraged everyone in the crowd to sing along with the band. Thousands joined together in the song, showing the unity and love that comes from a weekend like Shaky Knees.
What next year has to offer is still a mystery, but if you ask anybody who’s been to the festival, they’ll assure you that it’ll be a weekend worth attending.
Here are a few of our favorite performances from Shaky Knees 2018:
A band more familiar with smaller stages, Los Angeles’ Teenage Wrist played the closest thing to an indoor stage that Shaky Knees had to offer, and while many of the festival attendees were unfamiliar with the band, those who caught the set were blown away by the band’s elegant blend of emo noise rock and grunge, dazzling the crowd with a stellar light show and blistering on-stage energy that harkened the group’s punk roots.
Shaky Knees also featured a host of international acts, and one of the most stunning was London’s own Jacob Banks. This gospel-style singer was backed by a band well versed in electronic music, jazz, funk, and reggae, and although Banks played the most intimate stage at Shaky Knees, the strength and overwhelming presence of his voice had the power to make everyone in that audience feel like they were witnessing the performance on the festival’s main stage with the best seats in the house.
The War On Drugs
This Philadelphia act drew one of the largest crowds at the festival, and for good reason. With frontman Adam Granduciel’s stunning guitar ability and smooth vocals backed by one of the most air-tight bands on the lineup, The War On Drugs offered a set that was nearly unparalleled by their festival peers.
For all of the bands Shaky Knees feature that normally sell out the biggest venues in the country, there are always the bands that are more accustomed to playing the smaller, intimate venues on their tours. This year, there were several, and one of the most notable was Nashville’s Bully. Fronted by Alicia Bognanno, Bully is a whirlwind of tenacity and grit mixed with the captivating melody of Bognanno’s voice. This band was one of the gems from this year’s festival, and luckily, most people were smart enough to catch them early on Saturday afternoon.
One might not imagine the dream-pop stylings of Alvvays to be transferable to a festival environment, seeing the band’s sound as more suited for a condensed audience in a quiet venue. However, this band’s Shaky Knees performance would put all naysayers in their place, as the group attracted a sizeable audience and took complete ownership of the festival’s main stage, proving without a shadow of a doubt that Alvvays will thrive wherever they play.
Lord Huron has a sound almost tailor made for festival environments, complete with folk stylings and plenty of sing-along choruses. This dynamic was not absent at Shaky Knees, as the band played one of the most stellar sets of the weekend, serenading the audience with hits from their two earlier records as well as songs from the band’s latest album Vide Noir.
Without a doubt, one of the weekend’s most magnanimous performances, The National has always been known for their enigmatic visuals and frenzied stage presence, both of which were only amplified by a festival performance, especially closing out the entire weekend. The set was rife with the band’s greatest hits, coupled with Matt Berninger hopping the barricade and meandering throughout the crowd, in addition to closing with one of the most beautiful moments the festival had to offer.
Check out more on Shaky Knees Music Festival.