Half an hour before gates opened Friday at Music Midtown, Heinrike Eckhart and Julia Wolf still stood patiently.
The friends, who work as German au pairs for Atlanta families, were first in the entrance line at Piedmont Park, a spot they staked out at 9:30 a.m.
The object of their commitment?
The Foo Fighters, who were set to close the first night of the two-day music festival.
“We liked Nirvana, but we were in diapers when they were popular,” Wolf, 20, said.
They weren’t sure if they would return for Saturday’s lineup, which includes Atlanta rapper Ludacris, ethereal British art-poppers Florence and the Machine, throwback Adam Ant and veteran rockers Pearl Jam, and had minimal expectations for the rest of Friday’s event, which included sets from Atlanta’s T.I. and The Avett Brothers.
“I hope the other bands will be good,” Wolf said, adding that obviously, she and Eckhart planned to stake out a spot in the front of the Electric Ballroom stage, where Van Hunt kicked off the event at 4:40 p.m. Friday.
The singer-guitarist, who came to prominence in Atlanta, joked to the small crowd assembled, “You don’t know us, but you’re clapping anyway. That’s cool.”
He and drummer Ruthie Price turned out a big, thick sound on a reggae-funk cover of “Mrs. Robinson” and his own “Dust.”
About 200 paces away, the slightly smaller Great Southeastern Music Hall stage loomed, where Joan Jett and The Blackhearts cranked through an hour long set that included well-known singalongs “Bad Reputation,” “Cherry Bomb” and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
A few thousand people crowded the stage during Jett’s set, as an after-work crowd steadily multiplied.
Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, the organizer of Music Midtown, couldn’t cite specific numbers, but said the turnout so far “is exceeding my expectations.”