The Bonobo. The Bengal Tiger. The Tasmanian Tiger. The Quagga. The Dodo. The Blue Whale. What do all of these creatures have in common? Outside of being non-human animals, they are all unfortunately either endangered or already extinct (though the band The Dodos lives on).
While such a scenario is more than unsettling to environmentalists and conservationists alike, there's a similar epidemic of large scale loss slowly but surely enveloping the music industry - the duopolization of music festivals, and the death of the indie festival.
Indie festivals are music's bengal tiger - beloved and revered for decades, but in great peril of disappearing as we know them. Yet there's little to be done in service of indie festival conservation. Who will come to the aid of our dear, dear indies?
If Live Nation and Golden Voice had their way, it would be no one. In fact, it wouldn't be wholly out of the question to think the two corporate behemoths might be banking on a Quaggan-like exit for indie festivals as a whole (see: extinction).
Granted, that's a bit of a sweeping assumption with regard to Live Nation and Goldenvoice's capitalistic intentions, but following Live Nation's purchase of Bonnaroo in 2016, its become difficult to avoid crackpot theories. Nevertheless, the corporate cajoling of the festival powers that be hasn't become ubiquitous (yet) - Atlanta's Shaky Knees shines through as one of the pure, pristine indie festivals left in America.
Born in 2013 out of the indie goodness of Tim Sweetwood's heart, Shaky Knees has operated in the gone from a mall parking lot to Centennial Olympic Park; the most unprecedented of ascensions in all of music festival-dom.
With an eclectic headlining lineup of DFA kings LCD Soundsystem, the uber un-festival band of the century The xx (though Jamie xx might be a solid headliner on his own), Nashville's own minstrels of mayhem Cage the Elephant, the Phoenix dudes bringing back discoteque, and surprisingly, Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker, which was actually listed on certain iterations of the lineup poster). Pound for pound, its a lineup that appeals more so to a mostly under-40, over-20 crowd, which at this point is a descriptor that's all but consigned to oblivion outside of Shaky Knees, Pitchfork Festival, and Eaux Claires (bless you Justin Vernon).
How long will Shaky Knees remain truly and unassailable when corporate pockets come pouring in? No one can really know. But maybe, just maybe, Shaky Knees sets a powerful precedent for its handful of truly-indie counterparts, and prove that indie festivals have the capability to go the way of the white rhino rather than the wooly mammoth and come off of music's endangered species list.