Only six months ago, Shaky Knees raised four stages in Central Park and welcomed massive crowds of eager festivalgoers. Friday afternoon, the park is once again blasting tunes through Atlanta as swarms of people move between stages to catch every set.

Back-to-back performances and a total of 22 acts will certainly make for an eventful day and perhaps a bit of knee pain from running back and forth between stages. A competitive schedule headlined by one of the most well-known American rock bands today, Green Day will wrap up the the fest’s first day while setting it up for another two days of electrifying live music.

Other renowned artists including Atlanta’s own Faye Webster, grandson, Lennon Stella, Highly Suspect, Biffy Clyro, Rainbow Kitten Surprise and Dropkick Murphys will perform on the various stages throughout the park.

Though the day will see partly cloudy skies, don’t be fooled. It’s going to be warmer than the October festival for sure with temperatures hitting the high 70s by early afternoon and staying steady into the evening hours.

Regardless of the heat, fans showed up with beaming smiles, vibrant outfits and water bottles ready to beat the day.

Acid Dad

With blankets scattered across the lawn, groups of people with multicolored hair, flowy shirts and dark sunglasses gathered for Acid Dad as tunes from the Peachtree stage carried through the park. A small mosh pit formed as the band took the stage and kicked off their set with “BBQ” from their “Take It From The Dead” album. It didn’t take long for the lawn in front of the stage to fill after Acid Dad started to sway with the crowd.

Singer and guitarist Vaughn Hunt first started recording the band in his Bushwick, New York, basement releasing singles “Brain Body” and their first EP “Let’s Plan a Robbery.” Their self-titled album was released in 2018. The band produced their second LP, “Take It From The Dead,” in 2021, which features an assortment of influences ranging from 90s neo-psych, modern post-punk and 70s rock-n-roll.

Their sound integrates new styles and intricate hypnotic tunes while inducing a feeling of nostalgia. And the beauty of performing on such a small stage like Criminal Records is that you can feel the music vibrating through the ground regardless if you’re a bit far away from the barricade, which is something you want to experience with the song “RC Driver.” The song features heavy drums when vocals cut off, keeping the crowd bobbing their heads and stomping their feet to the beat when not singing along.

Their song “Living with a Creature” was an all-around crowd-pleaser. Headbangers united with the song’s heavy bass and drums and cheer filled the silence when the song ended. Sometimes comparable to Green Day’s iconic sound, Acid Dad is a memorable introduction to the weekend festival.

Faye Webster peforms on the first day of this year's Shaky Knees Festival on Friday afternoon, April 29, 2022. (Photo by Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

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Credit: Ryan Fleisher

Faye Webster

As soon as Faye Webster stepped on the Piedmont stage, excited shouts came as a roar from the crowd. A local of Atlanta, Webster certainly felt at home while performing. A slightly different vibe than the rock-and-roll sound that Shaky Knees is particularly known for, Webster delivered nevertheless with her first song “Better Distractions.”

Webster is a singer-songwriter who excelled at the guitar before she even finished elementary school. By the age of 14, she was writing sonds and by 16, she released her LP, “Run and Tell,” in 2013, which is a collection of county and folk songs. Her most recent album, “I know I’m Funny haha,” was released in 2021.

Dressed in a ruffled electric blue, long dress, her dress swayed during “Right Side of my Neck” with every strum of her guitar. The relatively short song had the crowd singing along and dancing. At the end, Webster took a second to say hello to her parents, who she said were in the crowd supporting her and the other artists.

The instrumentals to every one of Webster’s songs were dreamy. Often accompanied by a violin and a pedal steel guitar, her set was certainly out of the ordinary. Sticking to a mellow sound throughout her set, her song “In a Good Way” stood out for its catchy chorus and intricate instrumentals.

grandson

Jordan Edward Benjamin, known best by his stage name “grandson,” came out on stage with a red Solo cup in each hand and a Pop Smoke T-shirt. “Wake the (expletive) up,” he yelled before breaking into “6:00.” Not long after the song began, the crowd learned what those cups were for: throwing a bit of water at fans.

The Canadian-American artist grandson performs on the first day of this year's Shaky Knees Festival on Friday afternoon, April 29, 2022. (Photo by Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ryan Fleisher

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Credit: Ryan Fleisher

By far the most energetic performer so far, grandson had every person in the crowd jumping and clapping at his command.

“Oh we’re getting somewhere now,” grandson said.

A Canadian-American artist, grandson was born in New Jersey and raised in Canada. His EP “A Modern Trajedy Vol. 1″ was released in 2018 and featured the song “Blood // Water,” which appeared on several Billboard charts in the United States and Canada. His follow-up, “A Modern Trajedy Vol. 2,” was released in 2019. His debut album, “Death Of An Optimist,” was released in December 2020.

It didn’t take long for a mosh pit to open up after the artist began his second song, “Again.” Being such an animated performer, it was evident that grandson enjoyed his craft.

“One of my favorite things about going to see live music in person … is looking around and seeing people who love music as much as me,” grandson told the crowd.

At least in front of the Peachtree stage, it was obvious that fans shared their love for grandson. It would be hard to believe that someone in the crowd hadn’t heard of the artist after his song “Despicable” blew up. A combination of the song’s heart-pounding bass and grandson’s energy vibrating through the atmosphere, it was rare to spot someone in the crowd no at least bobbing their head.

At one point during the set, grandson began climbing the side of the stage during “Oh No!!!” The stunt meant a slight intermission of a couple minutes as the artist climbed back down. At least he assured the crowd they looked good from a few feet off the ground.

Not longer after, grandson took a seat on the stage and asked the crowd to quiet down after someone dropped to the ground and medics were called. Fans stayed loyal and stuck through, though, and the music returned after medics cleared the scene.

“Please stay hydrated … make sure a friend is looking out for you. We don’t want you to get hurt. It means a lot to us on stage,” grandson reminded the crowd before moving into his song “Rain” that was written for the movie “Suicide Squad.”

Lennon Stella

The 22-year-old Lennon Stella first saw fame a decade ago when she starred as “Maddie” on the CMT TV hit “Nashville.”

Here’s hoping she makes time for another Southern city again soon.

She hit way above her 4:15 p.m. slot — as did the sound technician because the audio was great.

She got her hit “Fancy” out of the way early, playing it second.

Soon after she went into two gorgeous covers, both wise selections for her voice. First was Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” Then she pulled out an acoustic guitar (with classical tuners and a cutaway) before crushing Dido’s “Thank You” in her own respectfully soaring way.

Other grooves like “Bend Over Backwards” and “Feelings” kept the crowd moving.

Stella paused at the end of act two to say how easy it was to get to Atlanta and how much she enjoyed her time here.

She has a heavenly voice, but some fans disagree with the way the Canadian native pronounces “bagel” — she says “bag-el” instead of “bay-gel,” reports Billboard.

We can’t all be perfect.

Highly Suspect

No, the White Claws aren’t hitting too hard; the band includes a pair of identical brothers, Rich and Ryan Meyer from Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The band walked out to “Duel of the Fates” — John Williams’ musical throughline that weaves in and out of the Star Wars prequels.

Their 2015 debut album “Mister Asylum” earned them a Grammy nomination.

The band plays with music and harmony in a way reminiscent to the early days of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana — now add coming of age during the emo-screamo mid-2000s.They had a brief interlude to have the crowd sing happy birthday to Shaky Knees itself, adding this is their ninth year coming.

The band is set to tour with Papa Roach, and the crowd will surely love them on tour.

Nilüfer Yanya

London raised, Nilüfer Yanya began her set with “Midnight Sun” on the Criminal Records stage, which included a jazzy saxophone solo that surprised the crowd. After half of a day of countless guitar solos and intense drum and bass, the sound of a saxophone lightened the mood.

Yanya, who is Irish and Barbadian from her mother’s side and Turkish from her father’s side, grew up listening to Turkish and classical music at home. By the age of 12, she learned how to play guitar.

A quite relaxing set in comparison to other bands at Shaky Knees, Yanya’s deep vocals made for a rich performance of “L/R.” A small standing crowd gathered in front of the stage while most festivalgoers sat on blankets on the lawn and chatted with friends while enjoying an afternoon snack.

By the time Yanya got to “Angels,” her set turned more upbeat and you noticed a shift in the crowd as everyone began to sway to the music.

After Friday’s performance, Yanya is headed to North Carolina to continue her tour, which ends in Spain in late October.

Biffy Clyro

The nostalgia was real under the shaded Ponce de Leon stage when Biffy Clyro kicked off their set with “DumDum.” The song sneaks up on you. A slow and steady beginning quickly builds up into an epic guitar riff.

Biffy Clyro is a Scottish rock band made up of guitarist and lead vocalist Simon Neil, bassist James Johnston and drummer Ben Johnston. The band began in 1995 with Neil and Ben Johnston playing songs together in their teenage years. Eventually James Johnston, Ben Johnston’s twin brother, joined and they spent the next two years rehearsing. Since then, Biffy Clyro has released nine studio albums.

Under the Ponce stage, it feels like you’re in a music bubble. The sound is trapped under the large tent, which means that every strum of the guitar and every hit of the drums vibrates your whole body. The song “Tiny Indoor Fireworks” and “Unknown Male 01″ induced that sensation with its rock-and-roll energy.

Headbangers took pleasure in the band’s sound and stuck up their best rock-and-roll hand gestures in appreciation during choruses and at the end of songs. Moving into “Instant History,” the flashing white and pink lights changing perfectly in sync with the guitars added another dimension to the whole performance. Shirtless and a bit sweaty on stage from all the heat, the band members won over the crowd and a couple of fans even were seen sporting the band’s merch.

Spoon

With a tight set and a jangly sound, Spoon rocked the massive crowd amassed for the 6:15 p.m. show.

The native Texans have been at it for nearly three decades, consistently slinging indie rock across the world.

You at least know their 2008 hit “Don’t You Evah,” which they played Friday.

The keys were bright as ever during their performance of “The Underdog,” which you also probably know.

They also played a surprising and well-constructed cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.”

Shannon and the Clams

Underneath the trees at the Criminal Records stage was the perfect setting for Shannon and the Clams to begin their set with the moody tune “Do I Wanna Stay.” Missing their regular guitarist, the band expressed their apologies and asked the crowd to be patient. Their performance did not once lack, though.

Shannon and the Clams is a garage-punk quartet from California known for a vintage sound incorporating elements of doo-woop and garage psych. The band is reminiscent of a 1960s girls group. Since 2009, the band has released nine studio albums and three EPs. They are made up of vocals and bass from Shannon Shaw, guitar from Cody Blanchard, keyboard from Will Sprott and drums from Nate Mahan.

I have to be honest, Shannon and the Clams sounds incredibly different live than when streaming their album online. And I mean that in the best way possible. Shaw’s voice makes your jaw drop and the band’s blues infusion makes your hips sway. Their song, “Mary, Don’t Go,” which Shaw said is about her friend, was simultaneously bright and gloomy and made an impression.

Shaw and Sprott were especially kind to the crowd throughout, thanking them after nearly every song. Some artists are more talkative than others, but you can feel an elation in the fans when their favorite performer acknowledges them while on stage.

“You guys think I’m not looking at you in the eye, but I’ve memorized each and every one of your faces,” Shaw said before breaking into “Year of the Spider.”

Rainbow Kitten Surprise

The North Carolina natives know how to have fun, and you can’t help joining them.

Simply put: They have good vibes.

RKS had the crowd with the opener “Our Song” the cinched the deal with “Devil Like Me” and held court the rest of the time.

The ensemble had no hiccups, which is extra impressive considering they’re nearing their first decade mark.

The band is no stranger to Shaky Knees, but this is the first time the band has played since lead singer Ela Melo announced she’d found her “authentic self” and transitioned. She now uses she/her pronouns — and she rocked the huge crowd at the Peachtree stage for a full hour alongside her talented band.

Green Day

Compared to six months ago, when Shaky Knees held its fall iteration of the festival, Friday felt relatively empty throughout the day. There was plenty of room to put down your blanket and lounge on the lawn or stand near the barricade and still be able to breathe. That was until Green Day’s set.

Green Day is one of those bands that everybody knows no matter the age. And if you say you don’t know them, you’ll still know the lyrics to at least a few songs. Day one of the festival could not have ended in a better way. With glittering fireworks, multicolored confetti that dropped like snow and bursts of fire accompanying certain songs, Green Day wrapped up the day perfectly and set it up for another two days full of performances.

When you think of Green Day, what song first comes to mind? If you thought “American Idiot,” then you’re correct. As the opener to their 80-minute set, one of their most well-known songs and the name of their seventh studio album, the iconic track had every person in the crowd singing along and throwing their fists into the air. What was particularly impressive was that people still had the energy to dance even after nearly 10 hours of live music.

Other notable songs played during their set included “Holiday,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Brain Stew,” “21 Guns,” “Basket Case,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends” and “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance).”

Especially memorable, Billie Joe Armstrong asked the crowd for someone that could sing to join him. Moments after, a child hopped on stage and Armstrong handed him a microphone. Initially shy and unsure of what to do in front of the crowd, the boy eventually got comfortable and repeatedly yelled into the mic, “Do you know the enemy?” while jumping up and down.

The band had a way of incorporating the crowd into their performance, something each artist did, but Green Day simply excelled at. During their performance of “Knowledge,” Armstrong asked for someone in the crowd who plays the guitar to come up. At that point, fans were not aware of the task or what song they were going to play.

Not long after, Carter Scone jumped on stage, took hold of a bright blue, electric guitar, and quickly learned the chords. Playing as if a member of the band, Armstrong even held the mic for the teen at moments. Perhaps we will see him on stage eventually, but at least he got to keep the guitar.

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