Shaky Knees 2024: Stormy Weather & Steady Beats

During the weekend of May 3rd, I experienced my first music festival…and natural disaster: Shaky Knees 2024.

The music festival, which started in 2013, is an annual event in Atlanta, Georgia. The official site of the festival describes it as a “rock lover’s dream,” and this year’s line-up featured Arcade Fire, Girl In Red, Weezer, Noah Kahan, the Foo-Fighters, and more from Friday, May 3rd to Sunday, May 5th. And even though I didn’t know any of the performers, I was excited to work the festival even if the genre would be “music for people who like grungy dive bars, band tees, and colorful traditional American style tattoos.” (Spoiler Alert: I wasn’t wrong!) On Friday when Noah Kahan closed the show, I heard his banjo play and ran from my Popsicle cart to the middle of the crowd at the main stage just in time to hear his viral TikTok hit, “Stick Season.” I sang along with a couple who had come by earlier to buy a pop. The energy and excitement in the air was palpable. I immediately decided that I love music festival, even Shaky Knees.

My bliss was shattered on Sunday around 5pm when a Georgia summer thunderstorm rolled in without warning. At first, everyone tried to shelter from the storm but soon we surrendered to the downpour. The VIP section turned into a river; my Hokas were soaked and I watched in shock as festival-goers waded back and forth in knee deep water to fetch more of the free drinks offered with a VIP pass. The rain eventually let up and I saw that everyone was making a mad dash toward the main stage.  Someone mentioned that Billy Idol was playing, “Oh wow, NICE!” I said, pretending I knew who he was.

Then, all of a sudden, I heard a tune I actually recognized. I ditched my Popsicle cart and ran toward the VIP viewing area to see Billy Idol playing, “Dancing with Myself” in front of thousands of waterlogged fans. I danced all alone in the VIP section as the sun finally peeked through the clouds. It was magical.

After all was said and done, I trudged my Popsicle cart through the mud and back to the freezer truck. I had forgotten that I was soaking wet. All I could think about was how happy I was that I quit my old job and how lucky I was to be able to witness the magic that is a music festival.

Exhausted and damp, I arrived home and the first thing I did after washing the thick Georgia clay off my legs and feet was buy a ticket to Bonnaroo.