Review: Shaky Knees 2017

We love Shaky Knees – for many reasons: Great location, great setup, great spectrum of music. This was our third Shaky Knees out of its five years existence. This year the festival returned to Centennial Park, in the heart of downtown Atlanta, and the festival has hit its stride in overall experience.

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First, the location is perfect for a ‘city’ festival. As an out-of-town traveler to the Festival, there are plenty of hotel options all in walking distance. We love the fact that we can park our car at the hotel and not touch it all weekend. For those from ATL, there plenty of parking options for easy access to the festival grounds.

This year, Festival planners made a smart decision to downsize from five stages last year to three stages this year. This made a big-positive difference in the overall experience. This eliminated the bridge over Marietta St., which last year was a major clog in the flow of seeing different bands.

Intuitively, downsizing a festival seems like a bad thing – just the contrary – the compact setting makes for a much more enjoyable Festival. This led to smart decision number two by the Festival hosts: they didn’t oversell the Festival. Meaning, although there were a lot of music-goers, it wasn’t unreasonable moving around. We were able to go from stage to stage with ease and get comfortable spots to watch all our music interests.

The overall layout is also well organized with the three stages set apart; food trucks in the center; beverage stands and bathrooms all set around the perimeter. Although some of the food lines backed up, the other lines for beverages and “Johnny on the Spots” rarely backed up and wait times were no more than a minute in our experiences.

20170514_020643704_iOSThe three stage setup is also nicely crafted with a small, medium, and large variety. The only nitpicks would be adding monitors to the Piedmont (middle) stage for those who hang towards the back. Also some of the overlapping showtimes between the Peachtree main stage would overwhelm the sounds from the Piedmont stage.  

The Festival team aptly choose bands to fit the stage venues and this is the third major check-mark of this Festival: the quality line up.

The headliners this year were an eclectic grouping of LCD Soundsystem, The XX and Phoenix. Each put on a great visual and music acts that closed the three festival nights.

The rising headliners: Moon Taxi (our favorite), X Ambassadors, Sylvan Esso, Dr. Dog, Cage the Elephant, The Shins, to name a few, all put on excellent shows.

Notable standout performances were the energetic show from X Ambassadors –  Sam Harris was unstoppable on stage playing to all parts of stage and crowd.

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Dr. Dog also surprised us as we saw them back at Shaky Knees 1. They have definitely matured their sound and music. They have a raw honesty that we have liked in 2013 and the new tracks they played stood out as more dynamic, tighter in delivery and depth.

We also really enjoyed Ryan Adams show. Not only for his endearing humor (renaming his show at one point “the secret Shins’ show”) also his gritty “throw-back” sound that feels nostalgic and comfortable to us Gen Xers.  

The highlight of the rising headliners for us is our personal favorite, Moon Taxi. Just hitting 1 million streams of their new single “Two High”, Moon Taxi is headed for the upper atmosphere. We saw them at our first Shaky Knees and several times since. Each time their performance and music is refined and more engaging. The band had people in the crowd moving and singing along with their lyrics. We look for them to headline on the Peachtree stage in the coming year or two (fingers crossed!!)

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Lastly, our favorite part of Shaky Knees is the Ponce de Leon Stage for emerging bands and acts. Of all the sets on all three stages we saw this year, the most energy and effort was put forth on the smallest stage. We have follow up reviews of some of our favorites from the weekend:

  • Amythyst Kiah
  • Foreign Air
  • Run River North
  • Great Peacock
  • Arkells

Look for these reviews to follow over the next couple of weeks and look for us again at Shaky Knees 2018.

Review: Evening Muse hosts Sean Rowe: Leaving something behind

Sean Rowe is to music what an anti-superhero would be. Supernatural powers of a baritone voice that pulls from the foundations of the universe and the curse of fighting against the trappings of the music business that have left him worn, unwilling to give in and resolute ‘to the road less traveled,’ as he explains in his FaceBook bio.

To experience his live show is something like being attracted to a circus freak show act: does his voice really sound like that?

Yes. Yes it does and it’s much more than entertainment in the payoff. If Rowe doesn’t move you and I mean move you emotionally, then you aren’t really present in the moment, as his act demands.

Pouring himself into each song; telling a story accompanied by his second superpower, unexpected melodies from his guitar; he revels in simple, honest life. And this is Sean’s fight or burden. You ask yourself why isn’t this guy selling out arenas with his voice and music? And the more you are drawn in, the more you understand that he truly doesn’t desire crowds. He wants you, one-on-one. He wants his music to find you exactly where you are. And his curse is that his sentiment and honesty are lost on the greater music landscape.

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Equally matched to his superhero voice is his diverse guitar abilities, providing a show that evolves with each song. You are left wondering what’s next?

Rowe has just released his fourth album ‘New Lore’ and is traveling relentlessly to fulfill his mission to connect with small audiences. A review of his next two months has him moving through the Southeast into Northeast where for several weeks he jumps the pond and plays on a torrent through Europe. Then returns to the Mid-west to the Southwest without any deceleration of pace.

 https://www.highroadtouring.com/artists/sean-rowe/

Rowe told the nearly full-house at Evening Muse a story about his friend, who was the inspiration for his anchor song on New Lore: ‘To Leave Something Behind.’ This same song has brushed stardom being featured in Ben Affleck’s movie the Accountant.

If Rowe doesn’t move you and I mean move you emotionally, then you aren’t really present in the moment, as his act demands.

To Leave Something Behind is also the core of Rowe’s mission on tour and perhaps in life. Clearly, the importance of what he does for himself isn’t focused on going Platinum. And he is desperate and driven to leave something behind that is personal, genuine and pulls the deep of the universe just a little closer for those he sings to.

Check out acts coming to the Evening Muse http://www.eveningmuse.com/

Upcoming shows at Evening Muse: http://www.eveningmuse.com/calendar/