In the early 2000’s the largest summer music festivals took place in rural areas.  Many of these have survived, including Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Coachella and Electric Forest.  However, as the decade turned, more festivals have sprung up in urban locations.  This began with The Voodoo Experience taking up residency in New Orleans in 1999, but really gained momentum when the iconic Lollapalooza ended its run as a traveling festival and permanently stayed in Chicago. Others included Forecastle in Louisville, Made in America in New York, Ultra in Miami, and Beale Street Music Festival (part of Memphis in May).  These festivals became popular due to their relative ease of travel and available lodging.

Now the festival scene has made its way to the ATL as Shaky Knees Music Festival will take place at Atlanta Station May 9-11.  Atlanta has long been a live music central for southeastern concert goers, rivaling traditional music cities Nashville and New Orleans.  Venues like the Tabernacle, Masquerade and Variety Playhouse bring in some of the best touring acts in the country.  Just down the road, the city of Athens has been home to many great artists such as REM, the B-52s and Widespread Panic.  Shaky Knees looks to add to this city’s great music scene.

The fun starts Friday, May 9th with headliners The National.  An indie band from Cincinnati, The National are leaders in a movement that has seen alternative rock move back to a more indie direction after being mainstream throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s.  Through record stores and festivals, bands such as Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys have found large audiences without using traditional venues for promotion.  Alternative is the theme of the day, with Cage the Elephant, Gaslight Anthem, American Aquarium and Bright Light Social Hour.  The day includes Celtic punk band Dropkick Murphys, famous for their sailing/drinking anthem “Shipping Off to Boston”.  Spoon, The Airbourne Toxic Event, Man Man and Band of Skulls also highlight Friday at Shaky Knees.

Probably the biggest group of the festival headlines Saturday night.  Modest Mouse broke into the mainstream in the early 2000’s with the classic hit “Float On”, but they continued their career by making increasingly experimental albums that have garnered a loyal following.  Also on Saturday, post-punk pioneers The Replacements will join Shaky Knees.  Though they never achieved wild success, they were significant influences on future groups such as Green Day, the Goo Goo Dolls and They Might Be Giants.  Portugal. The Man, Dawes and Cold War Kids also play on Shaky Knees’ Saturday lineup.

Sunday’s headliner is our state’s own Alabama Shakes.  In 2012, the band went from playing Egans to opening for Neil Young in under a year.  Their success continues, showing how modern music fans are craving more blues-based rock in the modern scene.  Alternative legends Violent Femmes also take the stage Sunday.  So does rising stars Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.  Other Sunday bands of note include Trampled By Turtles, Local Natives, Iron and Wine, Jason Isbell, Deer Tick and the Hold Steady.

Since the 1960’s, Atlanta has become the cultural and economic capital of the South, and its music scene reflects this development.  Now, Atlanta has a world-class music festival to cement its reputation as a thriving musical center.  Shaky Knees is only in its second year of operation, but it has already caught the attention of festival veterans nationwide.  As Atlanta continues to grow, so too will the sounds coming from this large and diverse city.

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