By Krishona Ford
ATLANTA, Ga., Sep 24, 2012 — The crowd was so large approaching Piedmont Park last weekend that the Atlanta Police Department shut down 10th Street entirely just to accommodate the pedestrian traffic. A swarm of eager fans walked briskly to the entrance, most with water bottles, portable lawn chairs, and their best sing-a-long voices in tow.
Just last year, Music Midtown reemerged after a six year hiatus and blew crowds away with performances from some of their favorite well-known artists, such as Cold Play, Cage the Elephant, and Manchester Orchestra. With a bit more variety on the roster and a sold-out second day, Music Midtown 2012 made it clear that the music entertainment we‘ve all been missing is back and here to stay. With so many different musical flavors to divulge in, all of the performances were their own brand of awesome, but there were a few performances that left an impression on me and solidified my return for next year’s show.
“Midtown, what’s happening?” was my introduction to T.I’s round on the stage, followed by a roar of cheers and screams in return.
The Atlanta native and self-proclaimed “King of the South” delivered a performance midway through day one that sure got the crowd moving. He performed a handful of his older hits including “Rubberband Man”, ”You Don’t Know Me”, and “Whatever You Like” for satisfied fans as they recited the lyrics and threw hands in the air for every song.
T.I. also performed a new song called “Go Get It” from his upcoming album entitled Trouble Man, and the audience was pretty receptive to the new tune. His performance of the popular song “Live Your Life” seemingly turned into an anthem with the audience before humbly thanked his fans and left the stage. He definitely knows how to alternate between getting his audience pumped and simply engaging them with his lyricism, successfully balancing the smooth demeanor and hard-hitting sound his music is known for.
The Avett Brothers
Before the fest, I was completely unfamiliar with the Avett Brothers’ music, and quite honestly, their existence. As I approached the stage and got a taste of these guys, the love flowing to the stage from the fans below quickly began to all made sense. Equipped with a gang of cool string instruments, they graced the stage with a country/rock sound and interesting song topics that bridged a generational gap. Their sound transcended age range and just plain entertained everybody.
One number interestingly entitled “Paul Newman vs. the Demons” encouraged a bit of line dancing in more spacious areas of the crowd. Young and old fans alike proceeded to join arms, kick their feet and show us rookies how to step it out. Though I would not consider myself the biggest fan of anything bluegrass or country, I even found myself nodding my head and tapping a toe or two.
Closing the first day of the event with the Foo Fighters was an obvious choice considering that they have been an absolute force for almost 20 years. Awaiting their appearance, the tightly-packed crowd was a sea of heads spanning the distance between the vending area all the way down a large hill and up to the stage. One guy held up a license plate with “Foo Rox” engraved in the metal, and a chant broke out urging the band to end the suspense and perform already. And then, they walked out and blew everyone away. As lead guitarist and singer Dave Grohl led in performing “All My Life” and “My Hero,” I just couldn’t contain myself amongst the head-banging and unity that surrounded me.
My absolute favorite moment was witnessing all of the sheer talent displayed during their ridiculously complicated yet seamless solos. Each member of the band took a moment to display their musical talents on their respective instruments, ending with a mind-blowing drum solo from Taylor Hawkins. As they blew up his image on the screen, we all got an up-close and personal view of his physical strength and absolute power simultaneously coordinating every limb to create a blast of beating sound. To top it all off, he did it all while flawlessly singing backup. The Foo Fighters definitely gained a whole new level of respect from me.
Ludacris, another Georgia native, took the stage and showed that the pleasure of his fans was his sole priority. The bass and excitement in voice commanded complete attention as he consulted with the crowd and allowed their requests to guide his set. His show was composed of some earlier hits of his such as “What’s Your Fantasy”, “Stand Up” and a multitude of others. He also gave the crowd snippets of other artists’ music, easily reeling in the female audience with his feature verse and the chorus of Fergie’s “Glamorous”.
“We know our time is up, but we’re just going to keep going until y’all want us to leave,” he yelled, yielding totally to the respect and satisfaction of his fans and knowingly proceeding to perform well past the time allotted for his performance. He concluded his set to a grand applause and made me regret not taking advantage of seeing him live in concert sooner.
When I saw Girl Talk on the roster for Music Midtown, I just automatically assumed it was probably a cute girl band. Low and behold, I came to find the highlight of my entire experience event in this guy who turned out to be a mashup DJ that I’d prefer to call a musical scientist. His set was the most exhilarating, eye-catching and attention grabbing performance I have seen to date, and I actually spent most of his performance jumping up and down and fist-pumping my tail off. Anyone who can seamlessly combine Gwen Stefani and Cash Out or Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” with a super pop Kylie Minogue-esque production deserves proper recognition. He mixed the tracks right there on the stage, illuminated with a neon light show and surrounded by stage full of random dancing people. Girl Talk’s mashup mix turned Music Midtown to a full-fledged party, and I walked away from it all completely amped, amazed, and downright beat.
Overall, I would definitely say that Music Midtown is definitely reclaiming its place in the annual event structure of Atlanta. When you mix a good crowd and good entertainment, at the very least, you end up with a good time. It was a little bit of everything for everyone, and I’m anxious to see what next year will bring.