Thousands of EDM fans gathered in Atlanta’s Central Park May 10th & 11th for the fourth annual installment of Shaky Beats Music Festival.
Projections of thunderstorms threatened to dampen the Shaky Beats Music Festival experience but save for a few refreshing raindrops, mother nature couldn’t have provided a more ideal setting for two days of blissful relaxation. While this festival may lack in “extra” experiences (mechanical sculptures, transcendental huts, carnival attractions, etc.) it is abundant in quality performers and great scheduling. Honestly, it’s what makes this festival worth traveling across the country for though. There’s no Instagram influencer shuffling you out of their perfect photo opportunity by the ferris wheel, no emotional support animals taking up real estate, and no hot yoga sessions midday, just EDM and the people that love it. Hollywood of the South isn’t just reinventing moviedom, it’s setting the stage for an outdoor music revolution unlike anything in Los Angeles. The four stages are no more than a two minute walk in between the farthest points, and performances were properly staggered on stages too close to each other to prevent music bleeding together. This made it more feasible than most festivals to take in as many acts as possible without missing half their sets by trekking across the grounds, exhausted by the time you get there. Exhaustion was never in question at Shaky Beats thanks in large part to the relentless efforts of MOJO and their staff ensuring everybody got some kind of protein bar anytime you passed their booth (located between the two main stages).
Collectively this may be the best festival of the year so far; not once were there lulls in performances, angst from the crowds, or production issues. It was as if every artist came together Friday morning and agreed, “the world can be so divisive, lets help these people forget about that and relax.” Nobody put on a bad set, and while there weren’t a ton of headbanging, dubstep, crunchy type beats, the trance, jazz, and pop styles of EDM present provided 48 hours of mood altering music that had everybody vibing. Chris Lake, Big Wild, Gryffin and San Holo in particular had fantastic sets, mixing trance and pop in a way that simultaneously chills you out and makes you wanna get up and dance. SNBRN and Clozee had the best sets on the smaller stage of Criminal Records thanks in part to the patented string sounds of Clozee. Galantis and Big Gigantic killed it as usual, the ability of Dominic Lalli to crush the saxophone, jump over to the keyboard and drop in a mix flawlessly within seconds is worth the price of admission itself. Both of the closers ended the night with a bang despite being two vastly different styles. Rufus du Sol ended Friday night with a trance heavy set that melted minds and faces for an hour and a half reminiscent of The Flaming Lips or Above and Beyond. Finishing out the entire festival was Martin Garrix, arguably one of the biggest pop DJs today. He played hit after hit, busted out the heavy lasers and pyrotechnics and brought the house down with his final song, “High on Life.” After this weekend, we all are Martin.