Centennial Olympic Park has hosted a wide range of events over the years, since it’s original use in the 1996 Olympic Games.
Sweetwater 420 Fest and a bigger than ever Shaky Knees were huge hits this spring! This past weekend, it held a new type of event. Shaky Beats, the first ever 3-day festival with a lineup consisting of EDM and hip hop. Atlanta has proven time and time again, it can support an indie to widely popular rock ‘n’ roll lineup (via Shaky Knees) or even a 3 day pop fest (via Music Midtown). And while the inner city has hosted many EDM and hip hop events, it hasn’t successfully hosted something this size in this central location. CounterPoint and TomorrowWorld have been arguably EDM-dominated but you really can’t call their farm land locations “Atlanta”. And while this years’ Imagine Festival may grow to or past the size of Shaky Beats, it’s moving to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is considerably outside the city, as well.
Shaky Beats shook up Atlanta for 3 glorious days. Despite some rain on Friday, the weather was beautiful. Some fans noted that the city may have made some improvements this year to the actual grounds. Although there was a lot of rain, which in previous events at Centennial has meant a lot of mud the following days, Saturday and Sunday were completely mud-free!!! It was a miracle! Praise the new drain and run off system at the park! The sun shined down for the remainder of the fest, at near perfect temperatures. It was warm out but not unbearable. One thing I want to note and applaud is the AMAZING amenities at Shaky Beats! There was a great free water station, sponsored by Camelbak, in the middle of the map that never had a long line. Cheerful staff assisted thirsty fans fill up their Camelbaks and water bottles. Another line-less amenity to note was the port-a-potty areas. I don’t think I ever waited longer than a couple of minutes and I was never greeted with a messy or toilet paper-less potty! My guess is that organizers left all of the infrastructure up from Shaky Knees, which was a much bigger festival. This left Shaky Beats with more than enough the next week!
So, if anyone is keeping score…Shaky Beats has scored near perfect on location, weather, and amenities. Let’s talk about the people and atmosphere! Atlanta festivals have a special place in my heart because they are populated with the wild and crazy ATLiens. While the fest definitely had its share of molly-munchers and bros, everyone was extremely nice and genuinely happy to be there. I never had issues getting through the crowd and other than the token belligerent naked guy during Odesza, no one seemed too out of hand. The fest did not have too many extras like art or at-large, live performers. The aesthetics of the festival were very simple, which focused everyone on the actual stages. This definitely could be an area for the fest to improve on in the future. Not that it’s necessary but for the festival to develop its own identity in the huge festival market, some minor additions could go a long way.
Now, on to the music! This aspect of the festival was a home run from the initial lineup announcement. Zhu blew away attendees on Friday and the headliners Saturday and Sunday rose to the occasion appropriately. Special guests were all over the place. Marshmello brought out an actor from the TV show, Walking Dead. Odesza brought out and performed with the Atlanta Falcons’ drum line on Saturday. Big Gigantic took the cake with their extra special guest, Big Boi of Outkast! I had heard a rumor that this might happen but was too excited to believe it. Big Boi came out during the end of the set to perform a few songs, both from his current solo project and some Outkast throwbacks. It was a very special moment for that crowd to get a taste of one of Atlanta’s most influential musical acts of a generation. It definitely warms my heart to think back to when Big G announced him joining them on stage…and then going into one of my favorite Big Boi songs, “Shutterbug”. Some other notable sets were STRFKR, A$AP Ferg, NAS, NGHTMRE, and of course Porter Robinson did a great job making up for his TomorrowWorld set from last year (technical difficulties prevented him from performing his Live set and he had to make due with a DJ set).
All in all, this was an incredibly successful first year for Shaky Beats! I think that the Shaky Knees/Beats double weekend works out really well for Atlanta. The lineups are different enough to pull from separate regional crowds and the price is reasonable enough for locals to attend both weekends. We’ll see how the organizers proceed in the following years!!!