My Spilt Milk's coverage of the summer festival season begins in Atlanta with the debut of the EDM-friendly Shaky Beats.
[My Spilt Milk contributor Ryan Knight filed this report from Shaky Beats in Atlanta.]
Tim Sweetwood created and oversees the Shaky Knees, Shaky Boots, and Shaky Beats festivals in Atlanta. With Shaky Beats following the 4-year-old sister festival Shaky Knees by only one week, he used the "Shaky" brand he created to bring a successful EDM festival to Atlanta. Since similar festivals TomorrowWorld and Counterpoint will not be returning this year, Sweetwood attempts to fill the EDM void in Atlanta.
Centennial Olympic Park exudes a festive nature, with decorated Olympic structures and the massive SkyView ferris wheel overlooking the festival grounds. Shaky Beats was able to reuse most of the infrastructure such as stages and tents from Shaky Knees the week before. For this reason, it was easier to fine-tune the festival grounds into something that is EDM-appropriate with extra light rigs and bigger production. The convenience of having Shaky Beats immediately following Shaky Knees allowed the event to run very smoothly on Friday, which featured headliners ZHU, AlunaGeorge, and Major Lazer. For many artists on the lineup, Atlanta is the first stop on their summer festival tours.
Shaky Beats patrons, performers, and curators all held their breath for the days leading up to Friday May 20 due to every ominous weather forecast. It rained in the hours leading up to the festival and as fans arrived, so a lot of people came prepared with rain boots and ponchos. Jai Wolf performed the opening set at Peachtree stage and kicked off the festival on a very high note. Classixx put on a dancy set at the Piedmont stage.
Next, AlunaGeorge front-woman Aluna Francis took the stage with swagger and bought a live band to accompany her. Although her voice would suggest otherwise, her stage presence is similar to that of a hip-hop performer. Almost immediately as the set was beginning, the rain started to pour. However, this only took the performance to another level, AlunaGeorge and the crowd fed off of the rainy weather and it created an electric atmosphere. Francis even performed a few songs that she is only featured in, including "White Noise" by Disclosure and "Automatic" by ZHU. After her set, the rain ceased for the remainder of the festival. Duke Dumont is known for his deep house sound and drew a huge crowd to the main stage as he played "Need U (100%)," a fan favorite.
ZHU has gained a large fan base since the release of his works Genesis Series and the NIGHTDAY EP. He also brought live accompaniment with sax and electric guitar. The live instrumentation element is something that ZHU has not typically employed in his previous DJ sets. As the sun set during his performance, he created a nightclub vibe at Piedmont stage. The entire crowd was dancing nonstop; ZHU's groovy and funky sound is contagious. The crowd roared in unison as he performed "Faded," his most popular single. ZHU's production, artistry, and overall execution of the performance made it the best show of the night.
Major Lazer is one of the biggest EDM acts, and they are known for their huge production and Jamaican influence. Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire along with dancers take the stage in all white and eventually do a wardrobe change into black Atlanta Hawks jerseys. This was a huge crowd-pleaser for the Atlanta festival patrons and gave the performance a more personal feel. Thousands of people raged Caribbean-style at the Peachtree stage and sang along to the ridiculously popular "Lean On," which pretty much everyone knows. Their up-tempo performance was the perfect way to end Friday and kick off the rest of the festival.