There’s something for everyone who loves music as a trio of local festivals gets underway.
Kicking off the events this weekend is the Amplify Decatur Music Festivalwith headline performances in Decatur Square on Saturday bookended by shows at multiple locations on Friday evening and a Beatles “Let It Be” sessions tribute on Sunday at Eddie’s Attic.
Saturday’s lineup features guitarist/singer and Grammy winner Ben Harper, alt-country icons Son Volt, Americana and folk outfit Old Crow Medicine Show and soul/roots duo The War and Treaty.
“Our goal is always to produce a great lineup that offers a wide array of music that aligns with the interest of the Decatur community,” highlights Amplify My Community and Amplify Decatur Music Festival founder (and performer) Mike Killeen. “And if they’re bands we’re fans of… all the better!”
Tickets for Saturday begin at $75, with all proceeds set to fight homelessness and help the unhoused in Decatur and DeKalb County via the Decatur Cooperative Ministry. Last year’s event, which featured Indigo Girls and Blind Boys of Alabama, raised $50,000 for DCM. Amplify My Community has now organized over 90 concerts across the South in support of its mission to tackle poverty.
Friday night’s shows are spread across the downtown Decatur Gazebo, Brick Store Pub, Leon’s Full Service, Waller’s Coffee Shop, Eddie’s Attic and Mellow Mushroom, with full details on the Amplify Decatur website.
Killeen’s band will get the party started at 3 pm on Saturday, followed by SG Goodman, The War and Treaty, Son Volt and then Ben Harper. Headliners Old Crow Medicine Show (hours after performing at Criminal Records for Record Store Day) are set to take the stage at 9:30 as they launch new album “Paint This Town.” Local restaurants will have food available, alongside beer from Creature Comforts Brewing and Three Taverns Craft Brewery.
The “Let It Be” sessions Sunday show at Eddie’s Attic starts at 7 pm, with a long list of local performers set to honor the music that influenced the Beatles. It does require a separate ticket.
Jam band, roots music and environmentally focused SweetWater 420 Fest returns after a pandemic-related hiatus the weekend of April 29 through May 1 at Centennial Olympic Park, preceded by a separately ticketed Pre-Party In The Park on April 28. Weekend headliners are Trey Anastasio Band, Oysterhead and The String Cheese Incident.
“It is so great to see and be with our extended event family again and be back to doing what we all love most,” emphasizes owner festival and Happy Endings Productions President Jennifer Bensch. “What we do is really a passion.”
Thursday’s pre-party runs from 1-10 pm, with a single stage boasting a covers set by Umphrey’s McGee and two sets by the String Cheese Incident. “The dream for this day was never to be as big as the main festival days,” notes Bensch. “However, the attendance we are expecting shows that patrons are really stocked for the lineup.” On Friday and Saturday, performances run from noon-11 pm, with Sunday going from noon-10 pmCaption
Credit: Greg Allen/Invision/AP
Colorado outfit the String Cheese Incident blends bluegrass with psych rock, while Anastasio, who also fronts Phish, headlines with both his own band and Oysterhead. The singer/guitarist recently released an acoustic solo album called “Mercy.” Supergroup fusion act Oysterhead, which also features Police drummer Stewart Copeland and Primus bassist Les Claypool, wraps up the festival Sunday night.
Other musicians taking to the stage at 420 Fest include guitar maestro Gary Clark, Jr., Umphrey’s McGee (playing its own material after Thursday’s covers set) and jazz-funk instrumentalists Snarky Puppy.
In addition to a number of food vendors and an artists market, the event features longstanding Planet 420 Eco-Fest, with everything from animal welfare groups to Meals on Wheels in attendance for engagement with concertgoers. A 5K race associated with the festival takes place at 8:30 am on April 30, with the starting and finish lines at the same location, Centennial Olympic Park. Standalone tickets are $48 plus fees, with bundles available to those interested in combining with 420 Fest attendance — and Bensch notes that race tickets are now limited.
In parallel with the festival, a charity auction sponsored by Gas South and featuring music memorabilia called 4:19 Got A Minute To Give? will benefit Notes For Notes Foundation and City of Refuge ATL. Bensch and team are thrilled about the auction, appreciating “all the wonderful beneficiaries and partners involved.”
Returning to its usual springtime slot, Shaky Knees Festival takes place at Central Park April 29 through May 1. A who’s who of indie rock, punk and synth pop acts will grace four stages over the weekend, from headliners Green Day, My Morning Jacket and Nine Inch Nails to Spoon, Chvrches and Death Cab For Cutie. Three-day tickets begin at $220, and a huge variety of food and beverage vendors will be on site.
Green Day’s last studio album came out in February 2020, while most recent live album “BBC Sessions” saw a December release. The latest My Morning Jacket record (self-titled), arrived in October spearheaded by single “Regularly Scheduled Programming.” Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Nine Inch Nails are playing just a handful of shows this year, their first in several years. The group released two albums in 2020, both for free: “Ghosts V: Together” and “Ghosts VI: Locusts.”
Other performers of note include Atlanta’s own Faye Webster, indie rock legends Guided By Voices and Texas arty trio Khruangbin.
Last year’s event, a rare October version, was a success. “We were able to give Shaky Knees a unique feel of a Halloween vibe, and we never really get to do that,” says Shaky Knees founder Tim Sweetwood. “Fans were very excited to get out there and see live music and for many it was their first time since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The strength of this year’s lineup reflects hard work by the festival staff and the excitement of artists finally on tour again. “We were working in the background making sure the lineup was ready to go,” notes Smallwood. “Again, just like fans, a lot of bands were beyond ready to get back to playing live.”
The music starts just before noon each day, with headline sets from 9:20-11 pm Friday (Green Day), 9:30 – 11 pm Saturday (Nine Inch Nails) and 8-10 Sunday (My Morning Jacket). As in previous years, there are affiliated late night shows at local venues featuring festival acts, with more information on the Shaky Knees website. Premium tickets are moving quickly, so Sweetwood suggests interested festivalgoers buy those tickets sooner rather than later.
Amplify Decatur Music Festival
April 22-24. $75; $195 for VIP; $275 for Premium VIP. Decatur Square, Church Street and East Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur. AmplifyDecatur.org.
SweetWater 420 Fest
April 29-May 1, with pre-party on April 28. Single day tickets start at $70; three-day tickets start at $172; VIP and other options available. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. W. NW, Atlanta. sweetwater420fest.com.
Shaky Knees Festival
April 29-May 1. Single day tickets start at $100; three-day tickets start at $220; VIP options available. Central Park, 311 North Ave. NE, Atlanta. ShakyKneesFestival.com.