Well we can safely put year one of the Shaky Beats Music Festival in the books as a major success thanks to the wonderful planning by Tim Sweetwater and C3 Presents. What a fantastic weekend that started off with some clouds and light sprinkles on Friday, but that did not keep Major Lazer from closing out Day 1 with an exclamation point. Even though this was the first year of the festival, the weekend was filled with a ton of attendees that culminated each night with the headlining act. The festival took place at Centennial Olympic Park in beautiful downtown Atlanta, Georgia, which was also the site of the Shaky Knees Music Festival the weekend prior. If you had a chance to read my review of the Shaky Knees Music Festival, you will know that I was impressed with the location and how the festival was operated on the grounds. Well the same thing applies for the Shaky Beats Music Festival because my squad had a blast all weekend.
This weekend’s lineup did have a lot of great artists that I was either excited to see again or for the very first time. Some of the artists that I was stoked to watch included: Big Gigantic, Odesza, Nas, Major Lazer, Cherub, Chromeo, and A$AP Ferg. And to be honest, there were a ton of artists that I had no clue about. More than normal actually but I am not ashamed to admit my naivety of most of these EDM artists. For the review of each day, I want to highlight each day but I also want to give you:
- My surprise (band/artist) of the day.
- Best performance of the day.
Friday (Day 1) for me started off later in the evening because I had to work the day and drive to Atlanta afterwards. I was a little sad that I missed Classixx’s set, but at least I managed to catch them at the Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival earlier this year. This evening would only net a total of four (4) acts for my viewing pleasure based on the time of my arrival. For my surprise performance of Day 1, I want to touch on the performance by AlunaGeorge (AG) who was also my first performance of the day. This was a much spirted performance by AG as they were also one of the artists that I was not aware of upon first look at this line-up. AG is a EMD duo from London consisting of Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (production and instrumentation) that has been making great music since their debut back in 2009. I really dig their sound as it mixes elements of R&B/90’s house and a Nu pop sound with some hip-hop influences thrown in for good measure. Overall, a delightful surprise that breaks the mold of most EDM acts that are frequently added to major festivals. I recommend checking them out before they get huge from this year’s summer tour which crosses over North America until late this fall.
The best performance of the day goes to the Friday headliner, Major Lazer (ML). ML is an EDM/dancehall/reggae/house trio consisting of Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire. What I really like about these dudes is their ability to mix and mash the sounds of reggae and dancehall with the electronic genres of house and EDM. You may or may not remember an animated series that debuted on the cable network FXX aptly titled Major Lazer back on April, 2015. Diplo served as the co-creator and executive producer for the short lived cable series.
Since the weather on Friday was rainy and very dreary due to the overhead cloud cover, the festival attendance was not where it would be the next two nights. So I was able to secure a close spot within the pit for the main stage. Something that would be next to impossible for the next two headliners, Odesza and Big Gigantic. The crowd that did manage to brave the weather was treated to one of the best performances all weekend as ML went through a great set of their material. Not a soul stood still as they created a large dance party within the crowd that gathered to witness ML throw it down. I know that ML is wrapping up some European shows until they hit stateside again to perform at the Panorama Festival (New York, NY) on July 22 and will continue to tour North America until they wrap up in Austin, TX for both weeks (Sept. 30th & Oct. 7th) of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. If they are remotely close to you, I suggest you take a trip to catch these guys perform live or you might regret it.
Saturday (Day 2) started off early for me since the previous day was so short and I would not attend any of the late night shows this weekend. I managed to catch twelve (12) artists/bands on what would be the best day of the festival in my humble opinion. This day would yield performances from the likes of; Cherub, Chromeo,!!!, Porter Robinson, and Odesza to name a few. Since this was the first full day of the festival for me, I was curious to the vibe that would permeate throughout the crowd. As the day progressed, the crowd gave off some great vibes as we roamed the festival grounds. The festival was set-up similar to that of the previous week with the Shaky Knees Music Festival except that this festival was contained only to Centennial Olympic Park. The three main stages were all located in the same spots and no extra space was needed for the two extra stages that were in place the week prior.
My surprise act of the day came from the band, !!! (Pronounced Chek-Chek-Chek). This band was totally new to me and I checked them out solely on a whim. With a name like !!!, one must think that a band would have some unique style or sound that would complement that name. Well I was right. The lead singer came out ready to do some major dancing on stage and pretty much stayed moving the entire set. Non-stop dancing, posing, shaking, and being very charismatic in his demeanor. I thought of this band’s sound as a cross between Beck (Midnite Vulture era) and LCD Soundsystem. The vibrant, energy that !!! carried on stage translated well as they went through a good 45 minute set. This non-stop dance party was a great experience and I recommend seeing this band live anytime you have the chance whether being a festival or while they are on a local tour.
Now the best performance of the day goes to the Saturday headliner, Odesza. One of the major reasons I wanted to attend this festival this year. This would be my third time seeing them perform and I believe that this was the best yet. They always put on a show that is not only a one of a kind performance, but something everyone should experience if you are a fan of any form of electronic music. One thing about Odesza that I admire and respect is their ability to paint a visual, sonic experience with their music. The crowd that gathered for Odesza was massive! It felt like being at Bonnaroo at the main stage (What Stage) for a headliner. The crowd was packed for this epic set from this duo from Seattle. Another major bonus about this amazing performance was their use of the Atlanta Falcons drumline to do the last few tracks of the set. This got the crowd really pumped as this added an element of hometown pride for most of the festival attendees. Odesza is definitely on my list of bands not to miss if they are playing at a festival you are attending.
Sunday (Day 3) started off a little later than the previous day and I was only able to catch a total of eight (8) artists/bands during the last day of this wonderful festival. My day started off with a performance from Sir The Baptist over on the main stage. It seemed that crowd was very thin during the opening hours of the festival, so one can only assume that it was a late night for most the previous night. My surprise act performance came from the hip-hop artist, A$AP Ferg (Always Strive and Prosper) but to clarify this ‘surprise’ stems from his live performance and crowd interaction. This was a major plus for me as I already enjoyed his discography. To witness him perform live and enjoy every second on stage while giving love back to the crowd, that is what it is all about my friends. Since the emergence of the A$AP Mob, I have been a fan of all the MCs associated with the crew and all their collaborations with other artists.
For me personally, a lot of MCs let me down with a watered down performance by only doing snippets of their tracks throughout their set. Nothing worse than having one of your favorite tracks starting off and once you get to the first hook… the MC switches it to a totally different track. What a tease! Well A$AP Ferg did none of these shenanigans during his epic Shaky Beats set. I was very impressed with his level of enthusiasm and crowd participation on Sunday. It was already a hot day but no one seemed to care as soon as the first beat dropped and A$AP Ferg took over the crowd’s attention for over an hour. He even made it off stage and over to hang with the crowd near the end of his set.
To close out the first ever Shaky Beats Music Festival we now come to my best performance of the day by a band named Big Gigantic. This instrumental, hip-hop, and jazz duo from Boulder have been making a huge name for themselves since their debut LP, Fire It Up (2009). The crowd for this set mirrored the night before as there was little room to maneuver through the crowd. If you have never heard of Big Gigantic, then I strongly urge you to give them a shot. They have a very unique sound that will make even the most novice music lover appreciate their musical ability and dance to their grooves. Big Gigantic always puts on an astounding performance for their fans and this was no exception. Their inimitable sound mixes elements from not only hip-hop and instrumental electronica but they are also able to blend some jazz in due to the part of saxophonist/producer, Dominic Lalli.
To put icing on the cake they even brought out Georgia native and all around bad ass, Big Boi A.K.A. Daddy Phat Sacks, of the legendary hip-hop group Outkast and most recently of the group Big Grams, out for the last part of their Shaky Beats final set. Needless to say when Big Boi came on stage, the crowd went ballistic like the moment when Ali knocked down Frazier at the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ (R.I.P.). Memories were made this night and dreams were created after this mind-blowing performance by one of the hottest acts in music today thanks to their unique, intoxicating sound blending elements of EDM, Hip-Hop, and Jazz that produce some great tracks to just get lost in.
After a very, successful inaugural Shaky Beats Music Festival, I can only imagine what they will have in store for us come next May. This lineup has set the bar high and the only thing that could top this lineup is to get some more major acts like Skrillex, Flume, Kaskade, deadmau5, Bassnectar, and/or ZEDD. Some lesser billed acts like Purity Ring, Jamie xx, Afrojack, Ratatat, Caribou, Flying Lotus, and/or Dillion Francis would also help build year two of the festival into the juggernaut it is destined to become. This was a festival that needed to make its home in the city of Atlanta due to the already present fan base of music genres like EDM and hip-hop; I, for one, am very glad that it has come to my town and I hope to see this festival garner a more national presence in the years to come.
Check out my Shaky Beats Music Festival photo albums (Day 1-3) available online at Concerthopper.com’s Facebook page. Everyone at Concerthopper would like to thank the entire staff that helped bring the first ever and successful Shaky Beats Music Fest to the city of Atlanta. Stay tuned to Concerthopper on all of our social media pages: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (username: Concerthopper), and Twitter for all your live updates and recaps. And you can stay informed on my personal concert and festival hopping via Instagram. Thank you all for your continued support and we hope to see you all out at the next concert or festival soon!
Stay tuned for our coverage of the 14th annual Forecastle Festival this July 15-17th, 2016!