Live Review: 2022 Shaky Knees Festival

Credit: Charles Reagan

This past weekend, the 2022 Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta boasted three days of thrilling musical performances complemented by mostly perfect weather conditions and widespread elation among attendees. 

Upon entering the festival for the first time this weekend on Friday, I stumbled upon the groovy tunes of Acid Dad that painted a dreamy landscape of sounds as excited attendees steadily poured in through the gates. Shortly after, I found myself mesmerized by Faye Webster, and the pedal steel performance really shined through to tie the whole experience together. I then made my way to the main stage to watch Grandson where he delivered quite an energetic performance. A medical related incident occurred within the audience during the middle of his set, and the show paused so that medical staff could intervene. It felt comforting to see that safety was the highest priority of the festival, a subject that has become a big concern to the public after the Astroworld Tragedy that occurred last November in Houston, TX. I applaud Grandson and the festival staff as an example to be followed, and I hope that other festival promoters follow their lead. Highly Suspect and Rainbow Kitten Surprise kept the good energy going, ultimately getting the crowd more energized as the night went on. Green Day went heavy with the hits, ending the night with a bang by engaging a captivated audience to collectively sing their entire setlist in sync. 

Sam Lipkin Green Day at Shaky Knees in Central Park on Apr. 29. Credit: Pooneh Ghana

On Saturday, I enjoyed early sets from POORSTACY, Djo, BabyJake and Reignwolf. Throughout the weekend, the weather forecast briefly became volatile, and there were moments where the sky threatened to send down thunderstorms. During Mt. Joy’s set, I could feel the occasional sprinkle, but thankfully, the skies availed into a mix of warm sunshine and shady overcast for the remainder of the weekend. Mt. Joy led a powerful experience, switching between driving jams and soulful grooves dominated by a faultless vocal performance. Going with the flow of my friend group’s desires, I had the pleasure of attending The Regrettes who earned the spot as my favorite musical discovery of the weekend. Conducting mosh pits led by a liberating stage presence, the punk band made me an instant fan. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard was my favorite act of the weekend, stringing together a mind melting experience through remarkable showmanship and impeccable musical talent. With such an expansive music discography and unpredictable setlists, it is evident that the members of the band are dedicated to their craft as musicians. Because I had stayed for the entire duration of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, I watched Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails perform a dazzling set while distantly chilling atop a grassy hill. Amid bursts of bright flashing lights, I would look around, taken aback at the herds of people gathered together in one place. Nine Inch Nails hasn’t toured in the last four years, and it was evident that they were one of the biggest attractions of the weekend as I would see hundreds of festival goers decked out in the band’s merchandise all throughout the day. Maybe it was because I was towards the back of the crowd, but it truly felt like everyone in Atlanta was there at Central Park at that moment. 

Roger Ho King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard at Shaky Knees in Central Park on Apr. 30. Credit: Roger Ho

Sunday kicked off the last day of the festival with great sets from Pinkshift, Destroyer and Colony House. Taking it easy after two days of intensive stage hopping, I mostly hung back and watched performances on the two larger stages. Coin, Band of Horses and Death Cab for Cutie each delivered entertaining performances. Khruangbin in particular was my favorite Sunday act, cruising away with some laid back jams and creating the perfect setup for My Morning Jacket to close out the festival while an awe inspiring sunset radiated in the background. 

Roger Ho My Morning Jacket at Shaky Knees in Central Park on May 1. Credit: Roger Ho

Overall, the festival ran like a well-oiled machine, creating core memories amid the warmth of spring and unforgettable performances from an array of talented artists. I believe that Tim Sweetwood, the founder of the festival, always curates the best lineups of live rock bands, including quality headliners and underrated indie bands that deserve more recognition.