ATL’s alt-music fest ready to rock on Shaky Knees – USA TODAY
Atlanta’s alternative music scene is taking a giant step forward with Shaky Knees.
Atlanta music promoter Tim Sweetwood, 35, had dreamed of starting an indie music festival, and last year he did, launching the two-day Shaky Knees Music Festival named after a favorite lyric in a My Morning Jacket song. The first day of the festival it poured. The second day it just rained sporadically.
Despite the deluge, this year’s festival not only returns, but returns larger in almost every way. It’s expanded to three days, May 9-11. It has more stages. The acts are bigger. It moved from last year’s venue, which held about 9,000, to Atlanta’s Atlantic Station, which holds almost double that.
So if this much growth has happened after a rain-filled first year, how big is the festival going to get after the sunny weather expected this weekend?
“The sky is the limit, but I’m not aiming for the sky,” Sweetwood said. “So hopefully the festival will just be a slow progression. We will continue to let it grow … but the goal isn’t to be doing 60,000 people a day in year three or anything like that.”
Sweetwood’s goal isn’t numbers, but to bring ever better alternative music to Atlanta.
This year he is obviously satisfied with the 60 acts he is bringing in, at least 15 or 16 of which could have been headliners last year.
Who are his favorites?
“Definitely the No. 1 group I’m proudest of getting is The Replacements. I mean it is hard to argue that, when the band is coming back and they are only playing select festivals,” he said. “At the time they confirmed with us, the only festival they had booked was the Coachella Festival, so that was really cool.
“I’m also definitely excited that we got Spoon on board as well. I mean they haven’t played in several years, and this will be one of their first live shows as they come back, so I’m really excited about that.”
After that, he admits it gets tough. Maybe the next act he’s proudest of is Modest Mouse, he said, but there are so many other good groups: Alabama Shakes, The National, Cage the Elephant, Airborne Toxic Event, Band of Skulls, Jenny Lewis, Iron & Wine, Jason Isbell, Jason Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes — the lineup of big alternative acts just goes on.
But what he is most excited about bringing is something Atlanta didn’t have. “Atlanta already had a lot of festivals, including a major one with mainstream rock, but I wanted something that was totally indie rock, and that was something the city didn’t have,” he said.
Now, the city has it — and knees aren’t all that will be shaking in Atlanta this weekend.