You know those concerts/festivals/live-music *experiences* that make you fall even more in love with your favorite bands and your pals? Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia, was exactly that for me. For three days in May (not long enough!), I got to listen to a ton of new music, see some of my favorite bands, and chat with a handful of killer musicians and their fans. In the words of Kinyatta, a fellow music lover I met at Shaky Knees, “festivals can be very communal experiences—you meet people you may not know well, or even at all, but through your love of the same musicians, you’re drawn together.” She nailed it, didn’t she?
Wolf Alice (above) is my new favorite band. No joke—their angsty, alt-rock tunes made for one of my favorite sets at Shaky Knees. I went home and immediately added their songs to my summer playlist. I was lucky enough to get to chat with Ellie, Theo, Joff, and Joel before their afternoon set.
Joel on his most memorable concert experience: “A guy who wasn’t even 18 at the time set up shows [specifically] for people under 18, because they couldn’t get into most shows [due to] age restrictions. He started putting on shows with bands that were bigger and bigger. The Horrors played one, and a TV show called Pop World came to film it. It all felt like something was really happening. Those shows were my gateway into music, and into watching people make music for me.”
Hi again, Wolf Alice!
I met John last October at a Halsey show. He was so enthusiastic and fun to talk to that I just had to interview him again! John came to Shaky Knees to see the 1975. “The 1975 is my favorite band—I’ve followed them for like three years because I’m really in love with their sound and their image and really everything about them. This is my first time seeing them live; I’m really excited to hear the songs ‘Menswear’ and ‘You.’ The people a Shaky Knees have been super nice and super chill—it’s been fun to walk around and hear lots of different music, too.”
The 1975’s cotton candy–colored lights made for the dreeeeamiest live show.
Matty Healy of the 1975.
I met Mayra (left), Griselda (center), and Roxana (right) on the very last day of the festival—a self-professed “chill day” for them! They seemed to be having a ton of fun together, and even told me about how they’ve bonded through music: “We like the same music and went to high school together. We all listened to One Direction in high school, so One Direction and other similar bands brought us together. We talk about music together—we’re even planning on going to another concert next week!”
LANY is an electro-pop band from California. I checked them out solely on the basis of my pal Lauren’s enthusiasm for them, and they totally lived up to the hype. Their music has a very mellow, atmospheric vibe. Seeing them at sunset was an absolute dream. (Side note: It’s pronounced Lay-nee. It took me approximately Way Too Long to figure this out. You’re welcome!)
The Saturday night sunset on the way to see Walk the Moon.
Angelica, left, and Chloe are a badass mother-daughter duo from Massachusetts. They travel to festivals and other shows together on the regular. I was totally awestruck at their dedication and enthusiasm not only to music, but to their mother-daughter FRIENDSHIP!
Chloe, on how music has bonded her and her mom: “Music has been our main bonding experience, really. We have other stuff that we like to do, but I’d say at least 75 percent of the shows I go to are with her, as well as almost every single festival I’ve been to.”
Angelica, on moshing: “Moshing at shows is a little intimidating sometimes because it can be such a ‘guy thing’ to do, but we hold our own, for sure. It’s a really fun way to get the angst of the world out!”
Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant. YTG’s set was my pal Kenedee’s favorite of the weekend, so…*hands the imaginary microphone to Ken*…
“I went into YTG’s set knowing they would definitely be great, but the performance they gave blew me away. I had so much fun during their set. I found myself singing at full volume and jumping up and down. They are up there with some of the best bands I’ve ever seen. They’re one of those bands that you can love their album, but when you see them live you just love them more. Sameer talked about how surreal and humbling it was to perform for crowds. It’s always fascinating to see artists appreciate their audiences.”
You know when all of your pals have been talking about a musician for what feels like forever, and then once you finally get around to listening to them you’re like, Agh! What TOOK me so long? That’s exactly how I feel about Julien Baker, above, and her heartbreakingly beautiful acoustic tunes.
Julien, on her not-too-serious approach to playing festivals: “I try to approach all of the shows I play as a fan. I never want to show up and be like ‘This is just my job, and I’m just here to play my songs and get the hell out!’ I feel kind of weird [performing solo]. You know, it’s a big festival, everybody has on neon and high-waisted shorts, it’s sunny outside, and here I am playing these heartbreaking songs. It’s hard, but I guess I just try to get through it and be as goofy as possible in between songs. It’s not that sad!”
When Kenedee spotted Kinyatta and her beautiful flower crown and matching floral dress, we just knew we had to talk to her! It turned out that we attended the festival with the same artist in mind: Florence + the Machine!
Kinyatta on Florence + the Machine: “I love that Florence has these amazing vocals, her instrumentation is always awesome, and her lyrics have meaning. She doesn’t just write music to write music—her songs are always based off of her own experiences and things that she’s been through. I love that about her; it’s very poetic.”
The Japanese House, aka Amber Bain’s goooorgeous ambient electronic project.
Rachel and Rachel (Rachel squared?) are pals and avid concert-attendees from Florida. Says Rachel, right: “The best thing about going to festivals like Shaky Knees is that you get such a wide variety of music. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to festivals that weren’t the same thing the entire weekend. Most recently, I went to Okeechobee in Florida. I would be at an EDM concert one second, and then at a Mumford and Sons concert the next. You get a little bit of everything, which is really cool!”
Top: Kenedee watching Foals; Bottom: The moon came out for Florence + the Machine.
I met Sarah (left) and Elizabeth (right) while we were waiting in line to cross the infamous Shaky Bridge (a makeshift bridge on the festival grounds—emphasis on MAKESHIFT). It turned out that Sarah and Elizabeth are Rookies, so who better to talk about ~teen vibes~ with!
Sarah on her favorite band, the Vaccines: “I saw the Vaccines in concert when I was in seventh grade. I didn’t know who they were, but I got into their music after the fact. This festival feels like my second chance to really enjoy their show! You know those bands that when you listen to then, you feel like you’re in a cliché teen movie? That’s the Vaccines for me.”
I’m a massive Florence + the Machine fan, so seeing her live show for the very first time was super special to me. She has such an ethereal presence onstage, which as my pal Kenedee pointed out, occasionally borders on performance art. Here’s Flo sharing her maaagic with us.
A gal looking appropriately thrilled about the flowers Florence gave her.
Thanks to Kenedee and Erin for assisting and offering moral support all weekend!