Music Midtown's one of Atlanta's biggest concerts and festivals and this year the stars came in droves. Eminem headlined while Jack White, John Mayer, Iggy Azalea, and Lorde all made their mark.
Music Midtown's an institution in Atlanta—albeit one that was taken away for a while due to budgetary concerns, but the festivities were back and bigger than ever on Friday and Saturday. This year starred Eminem, Igg Azalea, Lana Del Ray, Lorde, Jack White, and Gregg Allman...to name a few of the 24 acts.
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So the set up for the festival included dueling stages in Piedmont Park—the major park in Atlanta—as well as a third. AT&T Live Stage, Electric Ball Stage, and Honda Stage all feature major artists in the two-day event. Not the cheapest ticket around ($135) but the number of high profile acts definitely made the value worth the price. And judging by the fans on Twitter, the event rocked onstage and off.
Atlanta native Ron Pope opened the event, telling the crowd, “I grew up 20 minutes from this place.” As crowds continued to pour through gates and gathered around the stage to listen, the atmosphere crackled with energy and expectations. Everyone was interested in what the 24 artists were pounding out on stage.
Lorde’s popularity reenergized the crowd as the sun set over the city and the flood lights blared on. Her single “Royals” was a major radio hit in the region and the crowd joined in singing along with the New Zealand native.
Iggy Azalea and RUN DMC battled it out on Friday, while Gregg Allman went against Lana Del Ray on Saturday night. Eminem and the Zac Brown Band ended the show the AT&T Live Stage in the final throw down.
Fans of multiple genres and eras found someone to listen to and enjoy. Allman and DMC covered the 1970s-1990s while Lorde, Del Ray, Azalea covered the latest radio hits. In between, Eminem and John Mayer bridged the age gap. Let's not forgot that it was Em's first stop in the city since 2002.
Those who didn’t duel to the death played on the Honda Stage, which included Bastille and twenty one pilots. On Friday, Lorde performed, as did Banks. Women definitely made their mark this year, too. Iggy, Lana, Lord, and Banks all hit some pretty high notes.
And in a surprising turn, Third Eye Blind and John Mayer showed off their musical talent at the festival. Third Eye Blind frequents Atlanta during touring, but this wasn't an official touring show, either. Nor did anyone expect to hear a cover of Ginuwine's "Pony" alongside "Semi-Charmed Life."
And John Mayer has deep ties to the city.
At a 2013 Lakewood concert, the singer said the best way to understand the city is to listen to the crowds. After spending five years in the city, he ended up penning “Your Body is a Wonderland” in a Duluth apartment. Claiming “they were five of the best years in my life,” he made it clear that the city would also be special.
You don’t have to be born in Georgia to be considered part of the family. Allman lives on the coast, near Savannah. And the Allman Brothers Museum, the Big House, is located in Macon, Georgia. Ties to the city and state are everywhere for those performing in Music Midtown.
Local ABC affiliate WSB-TV posted a picture on the festival, showing the massive crowd. And the city loves when Music Midtown areas. Everyone benefits locally; concert goers pouring money into the economy—right after Labor Day’s crowds and a final hurrah for the summer.
But not everything is fun and exciting. Residents around the park spoke about their concerns on the setup to 11 Alive, Atlanta’s NBC affiliate. Kathleen Dumitrescu spoke on behalf of the neighborhood association. “It's too big for the area, the park or the streets. So if something were to happen you wouldn't be able to address it.”
And it’s a valid point. Midtown is notorious for small streets that often go one-way. Last year, torrential rain and a large crowd left a huge mess for the concert organizers and city to clean up. Peter Conlon did look for a middle ground, where he stopped ticket sales at 75,000 even though permits allowed for more attendees.
The city also gathered a decent amount of cash, too. Live Nation, the event promoter, pays the city $400,000 for use of park, close adjacent streets, and fence off the perimeter of a public park. However, those looking for park usage during the last weekend of the season may not find the lack of convenience worth the price. And the influx of non-residents may leave some feeling a little unsure over safety and property.
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What will next year’s celebrations entail? No one knows just yet since the city’s still recovering for the latest two-day party. Conlon expected the show to be the best ever. And it just may have been. 2015 has a lot to live up to.