SHAKY KNEES FESTIVAL 2014

Friday, May 9th to Sunday, May 11th at

Location: Atlantic Station

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://shakykneesfestival.com/

By Liz Attaway, Eric Wallin, and John Attaway

In front of the Peachtree and Piedmont stage stood a large paved parking lot filled to the brim with a sea of ecstatic music fans enjoying their favorite bands. With several thousand of your fellow Atlantans, and some good music, once the cloud parted and the storm passed, Shaky Knees’ Saturday night in Atlanta was a rocking good time.

The large turnout for this year’s Shaky Knees Festival made it clear that Atlanta’s up-and-coming music festival had outgrown the humble beginnings of last year’s inaugural launch for the festival. Last year’s Shaky Knees Festival brought Atlanta’s music lovers to The Masquerade, a well-known music venue on Atlanta’s Beltline, which is in walking distance to many homes and Atlanta’s hottest new residential development, Ponce City Market. This year’s venue is not known for its musical legacy, but instead is one of Atlanta’s premier retail districts, sandwiched between a movie theater, a major department store, a parking garage and the Downtown Connector. Atlantic Station proved to be more than accommodating for the increased turnout of this year’s event. In exchange for the in-town neighborhood charm of Old Fourth Ward, Atlantic Station provided convenience, plenty of parking, and a paved special events area that saved concertgoers from the muddy mess of last year’s event. Rain came and went on Friday and Saturday with little incident.

As for the venue, the stages were set up in two areas of two stages each, the Piedmont / Peachtree stages in the back area of the venue, and the Ponce de Leon / Boulevard stages near the entrance. Other festivals often involve mass migrations of the crowds between stages, but these paired stages afforded little interruption between sets, as one act would be setting up on the stage next to the current act that was playing. It made for an enjoyable music experience! As afternoon turned to evening, Atlanta’s impressive downtown skyline lit the night sky with urban brilliance, painting a striking backdrop for a spectacular evening lineup, featuring Conor Oberst, Houndmouth, The Replacements, Jenny Lewis, with the evening being capped off by Modest Mouse. While we were only able to make it for Saturday’s performances, Friday and Sunday also featured top notch entertainers and fan favorites.  Friday fans got to hear The National, local Athens, Georgia favorites The Whigs, Dropkick Murphy, Cage the Elephant, Gaslight Anthem and many others.  Sunday fans got to hear Brooklyn’s San Fermin, music festival staples Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, music veterans the Violent Femmes with Alabama Shakes capping off the official end of the festival.

Of the acts on Saturday night, those that stuck out were Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse and of course The Replacements. Cold War Kids catchy radio tune, “Hang Me Out To Dry,” is one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. They’re one part indie rock with strong guitar and one part electronica, stir in some eighties influence and you’ve got Cold War Kids. Modest Mouse was the Saturday headliner with notable radio hits like “Float On” and “Dashboard.” The Singer Isaac Brock and his Modest Mouse crew have been around since 1993 and released their first album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About, in 1996. Considered indie rock now-a-days, their performance was one of the best of the night with an explosion of light and sound.

Finally, that brings us to The Replacements, that band you’ve heard a dozen of their songs from the 80’s and early 90’s but never knew their name. That being said, they’ve been around since 1979 and were big influencers on current music. Something I didn’t know about The Replacements, was the 1998 teen movie, Can’t Hardly Wait, was named for The Replacements song, “Can’t Hardly Wait” that plays in the movie’s credits. Thanks, wiki, for that awesome tidbit of interesting information. We had heard that The Replacements were one of the best shows around and boy did they impress at Shaky Knees. After 22 years apart, The Replacements roared back into the festival limelight with 2013’s Riot Festival. Not only that, but they picked up a guest appearance of late (and at Shaky Knees) by Billie Joe Armstrong, front man and guitarist of the popular group, Green Day. According to Wikipedia, he recalled seeing The Replacements live after the release of Pleased to Meet Me. “It was amazing. It changed my whole life. If it wasn’t for that, I might’ve spent my whole time playing in bad speed-metal bands.” So, are you telling us Green Day is Green Day because of The Replacements? Thank you, The Replacements, we salute you!

Aside from the music, food and refreshments were on tap, serving up cold Dos Equis beer (XX), cocktails and the new Desperados tequila-flavored beer. If you remember from our Counterpoint 2014 article, this was the beer we thoroughly enjoyed with the sweet tequila taste and smooth beer finish. Atlanta’s well-known food trucks and vendors also were present, including the well-known King of Pops, The Fry Guy food truck, the Atlanta Burger Truck, Buen Provecho, Bomb Squad Pizza, Nectar, The Pickle Food Truck and On Tapa The World. Thank you, Heineken and Desperados Beer, for the access to the festival, including VIP. We had a blast and can’t wait until next year!

COUNTERPOINT MUSIC FESTIVAL 2014

Friday, April 25th to Sunday, April 27th at

Location: Kingsdown, Ga

FOR MORE INFORMATION:http://www.counterpointfestival.com/

By Liz Attaway

On the hill above a rural Georgia field is a large illuminated COUNTER.POINT sign that overlords something magical and inviting; it lures you in and takes hold of your soul. On the left of this sign in the sky is a sea of people gaggled together in front of an illuminated stage, their hands in the air, their bodies jumping and dancing in unison, their lips mouthing the words, while we stand in the back in awe of the sight. The excitement and anticipation from the crowd sends goose-bumps up your spine, touching deep inside all you want to do is join in on the happiness. That’s Counterpoint and I’ve never seen anything like it.

Let’s get right to the heart of the Counterpoint: the music. From Sleigh Bells, to Foster the People, to The Revivalists, to the headliner, OutKast, Counterpoint had wall-to-wall music, sights and sounds that kept the proverbial you busy and satisfied for three days. The scene described in the first paragraph was OutKast with Big Boi proclaiming, “It’s good to be back in the dirty, dirty.” Playing everything and I mean everything you’d wanted to hear: Rosa Parks, Hey Yeah, Mrs. Jackson, and Skew it on the Bar-B to name a few, they put it all out there for our enjoyment. They came out later than expected due to a rain delay, but it was worth the wait as the people danced and swayed to the tunes they knew so well. We loved every minute of it from the American Flag to the laser light show! It looked like Andre 3000 and Big Boi both were having a blast and that’s what it’s about: giving the audience a good time, while having a good time themselves. Now if they could just have had a big screen or two for the people in the back to see the shenanigans. Funny story: we met Andre 3000 in an elevator and didn’t even know it until later that night. He was very gracious to us and probably enjoyed a regular conversation for once. It’s good to have them back and I can’t believe they are celebrating 20 years. Now, I’m feeling a little old.

The most anticipated artist for me was Sleigh Bells. Having seen them before in a small venue, they didn’t disappoint with blazing guitar, deep base, loud drums all held together by Alexis Krauss’ smooth voice. Last time we saw them Alexis got hit in the head with the guitar but finished her performance and even made an appearance at the merch table, gash and all. If you’ve never heard Sleigh Bells, I would describe them as upbeat electronica pop rock, or as I first heard them described, noise pop. I love Sleigh Bells and on top of that their energy and humility is breathtaking. Alexis gives it 100% every song, every time and seems to love every minute of her time on stage and her performance. My only complaint was their set got cut due to a rain delay and probably had to cut my favorite of their cannon of songs: Tell ‘em from the Treats album. I need more. When’s the next show?

I haven’t seen Foster the People before and I have to say they were quite good live. With spikes of clear stone reminiscent of the fortress of solitude from superman, they came out with gusto and LEDs fluttering light in the background. They played several songs that were widely known like Pumped up Kicks and Don’t Stop, while mixing in some other songs that kept with the quality of the radio songs. Not only can Mark Foster sing, he also plays the piano and put his talent on display several times during his set. Another band we enjoyed were The Revivalists, as they were a little different than the other Counter.Point fare. With French horn and saxophone accompaniment, the lead singer, David Shaw was probably the most energetic lead singer besides Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells. He jumped out into the crowd the second he could and the crowd loved it. His music reminded me of a band from college called, Dayroom and it excited me! I think I’ll be downloading their music soon from iTunes.

Beyond the music, our new friends at Heineken, cornered the market on beer and offered its flagship brand, Heineken, Heineken Light and a new beer introduced to the crowd called Desperado. Desperado is a new tequila barrel-aged Mexican lager that is sweet, cold, and satisfying for the spirit, wine, and occasional bud light lime drinker. Surprised by the taste, it was sweeter than anticipated with a hint of citrus and a smooth light tequila tart taste throughout. The beer wasn’t the only thing Heineken brought to Counterpoint, they brought what was called the Heineken House. It was a bar in a uniquely built art exhibit of live artwork being painted by the artist as the festival went on around it. At night, it was illuminated for the world to see with neon green outlines. The artwork was done by artists that were brought in from all over including big cities like Los Angeles and hometown heroes from Atlanta. Heineken will also be sponsoring two more big Atlanta shows called Shaky Knees at Atlantic Station that has a stellar line up including The National, Modest Mouse, Cage the Elephant and more is one. The other is Party in the Park on May 17th that is sponsored by Desperado and has big names like MGMT and Girl Talk. Where do we sign up?

As for the other sponsors, Zippo had a design a Zippo contest where the winner would win a guitar. I saw several of the entries and they were all very good. Next to Zippo was Cracker Jack’s and they were giving out Spicy Pizzeria snacks all weekend, which came in handy in a pinch. Also, Bed Head had a tent where attendees could get rid of that nasty festival hair and get their “hair did” by a professional. Bell’s had a draught house where they featured several of their beers including my favorite Bell’s beer: Porter.

What would a festival be without the people? Beyond the words were the poles, hundreds of poles, with anything from cardboard cut-outs to umbrellas, to glowing eyes, to trees. The most interesting were Bill Cosby and King of the Hill’s Hank with glowing eyes, while the worst and most perplexing was the literal tree. It was like the guy picked it up in the woods and said, “Hey, let’s use this as our pole.” What. In. The World. There was body paint, guys in speedos, several dozen people with fashion fur hats, and so on and so forth, so talk about a melting pot of cultures. The OutKast fans were out in force on Sunday with tailgaters in day parking blasting classic OutKast. We even got asked what our favorite OutKast album was on the way back into the festival grounds.

Where were all these people staying? There were several things you could do that included camping, Glamping, RV parking, day parking, or staying off-site at a hotel. We were going to drive home but we ended up finding a hotel the night of only 15 miles away in Adairsville, so it was entirely possible to find something last minute. The camping on the grounds of Steeplechase looked the most fun with people grilling out, taking naps and enjoying their friends. Up the hill is where the RVs were parked with their air conditioning and personal bathrooms, which would have been a good change from those Johnny-On-The-Spots. The next lot over were the nicer RVs of the VIP where we met our friends at Heineken and next to that were the Glampers. You could purchase a pre-pitched tent with anything up to four cots to an actual bed! They looked tres chic as the French would say. If you didn’t feel like playing in the mud with the masses, there were people who day parked and went home or stayed in hotels. It was very easy to get to and from the concert with plenty of car lanes and very little lines.

Overall, what a glorious weekend of good music, interesting people, exciting new connections, and everything in between at Counterpoint. We had such a good time and CAN’T WAIT to go back next year and experience it all over again. You should also pencil it in for next year, this is a can’t miss festival anyone can attend!