Last year’s exploratory return has evolved into this year’s full-fledged declaration that Music Midtown is back.
The long-running Atlanta music festival, resurrected in 2011 after a five-year break, will again claim Piedmont Park as its locale this fall with a two-day lineup stocked with star power and diversity.
Veteran rockers Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam will headline Sept. 21 and 22, respectively, while acts including T.I., Florence & The Machine, Ludacris, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Avett Brothers, Girl Talk, Van Hunt, Civil Twilight, LP and Oh Brother will fill in the rest of the slots on two stages erected at the park.
Initially, tickets will cost $55 for one day, $100 for both, with VIP packages ringing in at $250 and $500 and a “Super” VIP option for $1,000 for the weekend. They go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday via Ticketmaster. Prices are expected to increase – likely $65 for a one day pass and $120 for the weekend – during the summer.
“The thing we didn’t have time to do last year was [work on] diversification. This year we have a very diverse lineup,” said Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, in an exclusive interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I also wanted an Atlanta feel because this is an Atlanta festival.”
Ludacris, T.I. and Van Hunt fulfill that niche.
The 2011 version of Music Midtown drew 38,000 people to the park for a one-day concert spearheaded by The Black Keys and Coldplay. Conlon began preparing for this year’s event two weeks later.
Since he announced the festival’s return last year, Conlon has been resolute about his intentions to rebrand Music Midtown slowly.
“We had to be two days [this year]. It’s impossible to do what we need to do in one day – that’s what I learned last year. But we put on last year’s in 90 days, which is pretty hard to do. I’d give us a big A,” he said.
Still, don’t expect the days of Music Midtown past — multiple stages and dozens of acts – to ever be restored.
“I’d like to grow a little more, maybe three or four stages, but we’ll never get up to six stages again,” Conlon said. “It got unmanageable. We were programming stages for the fact of programming them.”
Music Midtown 2011 cost more than $4 million to produce and Conlon projects this year’s will run in the $6 million range.
The promoter was so happy with the setup at Piedmont Park last year – and said he received positive reinforcement from the city and neighborhood about the smooth running of the event – that another site was never considered.
“Piedmont is the only place that can do an event like that,” Conlon said, citing the amount of green space, as well as proximity to mass transit and name recognition.
As for this year’s headliners, this will be the Foo Fighters’ second Music Midtown appearance – they last played in 2004 – and is expected to be Pearl Jam’s only public U.S. concert this year.
Conlon said it was almost effortless to corral acts this year, based on the good word of mouth among music agents who attended last year’s gig.
“They were telling everybody, ‘This is cool,’ and at that point, you don’t have to sell yourself. You just have to have the availability and the money,” Conlon said. “We had to build our base back, show people what we do. I had to make it better. And I think we’ve got the best lineup in the country.”
What you need to know about Music Midtown
When: 4 p.m. (gates) Sept. 21 for Foo Fighters, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, T.I., Avett Brothers and Van Hunt.
Noon (gates) Sept. 22 for Pearl Jam, Ludacris and Florence & The Machine. Girl Talk, Civil Twilight, LP and Oh Brother.
Where: The Meadow at Piedmont Park, 10th St. and Charles Allen Drive, Atlanta.
Tickets: $55 (one day) and $100 (weekend pass); $250 (VIP one day) and $500 (VIP weekend); $1,000 (super VIP weekend pass). On sale at 10 a.m. April 28. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.
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