By Tre Hardy
In the center of downtown Atlanta, the city is alive with the sound of music. Located in Centennial Olympic Park was a music festival—the 12th annual SweetWater 420 Fest; a hippy-friendly festival featuring artists from a plethora of genres, the finest locally brewed beer in Atlanta, and enough “medication” to tranquilize a lion.
Day One of the 420 Fest was just as lively as you would expect. Immediately after entering the gates, I was greeted by the blare of music, inebriated festival goers, flower crowns, white people with dreadlocks, and the staple of any music festival: over-priced food trucks. The festival featured four stages, all of which featured their own unique line-up. The Lyrics and Laughter Stage was composed of local bands and comedians. The Disco Stage, sponsored by one of Atlanta’s prime music venues, Aisle Five, featured the best and most entertaining of electronic artists from local home-town hero Ployd to Paper Diamond. The two larger stages, the Main Stage and the Planet 420 Stage, featured more of the well-known artists like Pepper and Cypress Hill, who put on quite the show performing their hit, “Insane in the Brain,” and even playing snippets of oldies like Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” For the final act, Kid Rock performed on the Main Stage and ended Day One with a bang.
Day Two kept the energy going with more 420 festivities. Some of the artists of the evening included Funk You, a local funk band from Augusta, Georgia on the Laughter and Lyrics Stage and Tokyo Police Club on the Planet 420 Stage who performed their hits, “Toy Gun” and “Not My Girl.” Later that evening the main stage was greeted by reggae band Rebelution who set the perfect mood for the cannabis-friendly festival with “Feeling Alright,” which is the epitome of what 420 Fest is all about. Immediately following their act was The Roots (yeah, the one with Questlove) and directly across from them at the Planet 420 Stage was electronic-rock band AWOLNATION, who put on an amazing show, keeping the crowd on their feet with songs like “Kill Your Heroes” and ending their set with the chart-topping “Sail.” To close out the second night of the festival was Bastille, who lit up the stage with their unique percussion and synth sound.
The last day started out strong with Leftover Salmon, a band famous for their distinctive sound and creation of the Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass genre. Late afternoon was met by People’s Blues of Richmond, a band that combines rock and blues for a Black Keys-esque sound. At night, Atlanta native, actor, and legendary hip-hop artist Ludacris took the stage to wrap up with his songs, “Stand Up” and “What’s Your Fantasy,” to remind his hometown that he’s still the dope MC he was in the early 2000s before welcoming Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals to the stage to end the last day of the festival.
Between the oppressive heat of the sun throughout the day, getting lost on the way to the festival and getting burned with two cigarettes, the SweetWater 420 Fest was a substantial and unforgettable experience and a hell of a way to spend a weekend in downtown Atlanta. For more festival coverage and chances to win tickets, stay tuned to KSU Owl Radio, Georgia’s #1 online college radio station.