Day 2 of Shaky Knees was my most anticipated day of the weekend. Even though every day had a variety of artists I was dying to see live, Saturday took the cake pretty easily. The Regrettes, Amyl and The Sniffers, Japanese Breakfast, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are some of my favorite bands out right now, and they were all playing on the same day. Not to mention they were leading up to industrial rock icons Nine Inch Nails, who would be headlining with a 90-minute set. Probably the biggest upset of the weekend was that Japanese Breakfast was on at the same time as King Gizz, making fans choose between two of the best acts at the festival, but I honestly don’t think you could go wrong either way.
Because of how busy the day would be, we decided to get to the park a bit earlier than we did Friday. We arrived just before 1pm and decided to catch some of Poorstacy’s set over at the Criminal Records stage. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but what I got was one of the heaviest emo shows I have ever seen. The band was playing their hearts out, and the crowd was already moshing in full throttle at 1 in the afternoon. It was a pretty small pit, but everyone in it was going as hard as they could, matching the tune of the music. I decided to hop in during a circle pit, and almost immediately I wiped out on the concrete, scraping up my hands. I got right back up and continued moshing, but once the song ended I went to go wash out my wounds. Moshing is fun, but safety comes first!
After fixing up my hands, we went to grab some food from Roti Rolls, and it was really good! Shaky’s food selection, though expensive, truly never disappoints. We hung out for a bit, eating and exploring the park, before returning to Criminal Records for Hunny’s set. I only knew a couple of their songs beforehand, but they won me and just about everyone else over with this performance. A lot of the songs sort of blended together, but that didn’t stop the crowd from going berserk in the pit. The music wasn’t heavy at all (it was actually pretty happy), but that made for an even more fun experience. Everyone in the band was doing a surprisingly great job considering they told us they were running off two hours of sleep. My favorite quote was the frontman asking the crowd “on the count of three, what did you have for breakfast this morning?” By the end of the set, they threw drumsticks into the crowd and the biggest fans fought over them (in a loving way, of course).
The next act we sat down and watched was called Scarypoolparty. I had never heard of them, but the name was just too enticing to miss. It was just one guy on stage with an acoustic guitar, and he continuously expressed just how nervous he was to be performing in front of so many people. He even stopped a couple songs just to tell us how grateful he was to be there. It was a really calming set and the whole thing was super pleasant to listen to. He really had nothing to be nervous about considering just how well he did, but it was nice hearing his honest take on doing a show this big.
After Scarypoolparty, it was pretty much nonstop essential acts from that point forward. Up next was Gang of Youths, who took full control of the Piedmont stage for their entire set. The lead singer’s dance moves were unmatched by any other act at Shaky. This performance was so eccentric and exciting to watch that you simply could not take your eyes off the stage. Just about everyone in the band played multiple instruments, including somebody on the violin, which I didn’t see at any other show the whole weekend. Every single member was clearly giving it their all, and the crowd was loving it. The lead singer interacted with the camera operators almost as much as he interacted with the crowd, and he interacted with the crowd more than anyone aside from Green Day’s Billie Joe, regularly engaging with us in between and during songs. However, he took it a step further than Green Day by actually running into the crowd and dancing with fans. Not a second of this set was wasted, and it made for one of the most fun hours of the weekend.
Next up was Mt. Joy at Peachtree. Knowing the general sound of their music, they fit the mold for this festival better than anyone with their hipster aesthetic. And their performance lived up to that, giving each song even more energy than they did in the studio. My favorite moments were definitely their newest singles, “Lemon Tree” and “Orange Blood.” Before their set ended, we wanted to get down to The Regrettes a little early, so we started walking towards Ponce De Leon. Because of this, we were able to catch the tail end of Molchat Doma’s set at Criminal Records, and what little I saw blew me away. They attracted a massive crowd, with a number of crowd surfers, all going crazy to some of the most unique music I heard all weekend.
The Regrettes was one of the bands I was most excited for. Their 2019 album How Do You Love? had been in my constant rotation leading up to Shaky, and I couldn’t wait to see how it translated onto the stage. They came out to the opening track off their latest record, Further Joy, and the crowd was pretty dead at first. However, after a couple songs, the lead vocalist asked us to split the crowd down the middle, and that’s when stuff started to get crazy. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to, because in the middle of moshing, I felt my front pocket and realized my phone was no longer in there.
I figured it must have fallen out somewhere in the pit, but after spending an unreasonable amount of time searching the floor, I realized it was a lost cause. My pocket was zipped up, so I wasn’t even sure how it could have fallen out. After tracking its location to somewhere just outside of the pit and realizing it wasn’t there either, I used my partner’s phone to call and text my number, only to be sent to voicemail and have the messages left undelivered. By this point, I knew someone must have taken my phone from my pocket and turned it off before I had even entered the pit. This was pretty disappointing, considering just how much love I had felt all weekend up to this point, and just how excited I was for The Regrettes. Regardless, we stayed until the end of the set for everybody to clear out so that we could get a better look at the floor. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t find anything. Some people around us helped look, and we alerted security, but it felt pretty hopeless.
Even so, I wasn’t about to let this one unfortunate situation ruin the rest of my weekend. As soon as I heard Amyl and The Sniffers come onto the Criminal Records stage, I ran into the center of the pit and moshed with every ounce of my being. I don’t think there could have been a more perfect set to take place directly after having my phone stolen. I let out all of my frustrations by going as hard as I possibly could to every song they played. I even crowd surfed during “Knifey.” I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since first hearing their latest record Comfort to Me through WUSC’s rotation, and their performance was everything I could have asked for and more. It was hard to understand anything the lead vocalist said between songs because of her Australian accent, but she still managed to murder every second of the performance. She was shouting every lyric with her entire soul, and she even stage-dived into the crowd at one point. This was by far the most intense mosh pit of the weekend, and it was one of the best punk shows I have ever seen.
Once Amyl and The Sniffers finished their last song, “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled),” we quickly walked over to Piedmont for my most anticipated act of the weekend: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. The pickpocketing incident was almost entirely out of my mind after moshing for an hour straight, and I couldn’t have been more ready for the next set. We were still approaching the crowd when they came on stage and began talking about how much they loved Atlanta. Then, all of a sudden I heard the opening notes to “Mars For The Rich” from their 2019 metal album Infest The Rats’ Nest, and I SPRINTED into the crowd. I did not expect that to be their opening song whatsoever, but I was thrilled. I found a massive mosh pit pretty quickly and proceeded to mosh as hard as I could yet again. The first three songs the band played were all from the metal side of their music, and the crowd was loving it. I didn’t see a bigger pit the entire weekend. The performance was fantastic in every way: flawless instrumentation, vocals, and visuals. It was the first show after sunset, so the stage lights looked astonishing. Because we were on a grass field surrounded by people running around and moshing, the amount of dust in the air was unreasonable; it got everywhere from your eyes to your throat, making it difficult to see and breathe, but I was having so much fun I could barely notice it. After a few calmer tracks, which were phenomenal as well, they picked things back up with a couple cuts off of their 2016 fan-favorite album Nonagon Infinity, which exploded the crowd into a frenzy once more. Finally, with about twenty minutes left in their set, we heard the opening vocals to one of their most recent singles, “The Dripping Tap,” off of their latest record Omnium Gatherum. I was in shock that they would devote the entire last third of their set to this behemoth of a track, but I could not have been happier. It sounded even better live than in headphones (as did most of their set) and I had the time of my life dancing, moshing, and singing along. I was honestly surprised they were able to hit such a wide range of vocals in person; it was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Genuinely one of the best shows of my life. I’m still bummed I had to miss Japanese Breakfast, since she was in at the same time, but I definitely think this was worth it.
The last act of the night was Nine Inch Nails, who pleasantly surprised me with a setlist comprised of almost entirely older material. They opened with the first track from their 1994 classic The Downward Spiral, “Mr. Self Destruct,” and continued playing so many old hits and deep cuts from their best albums. They even played one of my favorite tracks, “Heresy,” for the first time since 2009. The crowd was disappointingly dead at first, but after a few songs, I noticed a pit open up towards the front. Everyone else in the crowd was packed tightly together without moving a muscle, which made pushing our way into the pit significantly more difficult, but most people were pretty helpful in getting us there. The strobing white lights throughout the performance made the set so much more intense and disturbing in the best way. Moshing without being able to see is a much different experience than moshing in broad daylight, and it was a ton of fun. The band didn’t interact with the crowd much at all, but I think that made sense for their image. Once the grand finale of “Hurt” came on, my partner and I started making our way out of the park, trying to beat the crowd.
Thus wrapped up the longest day of this year’s Shaky Knees. Click here to continue reading my recap of Day 3
This show is all over the place. Punk, pop, electronic, rap, various duck noises; you never know what you're gonna get, so there's bound to be a little something for everyone! (except for my grandfather, who hates all of it)