City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Music Midtown Day 1: A seamless start

Shiny, happy people. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Shiny, happy people. Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

So Las Vegas has the “I Heart Radio Festival” with Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Usher, Rihanna, No Doubt, Green Day, Mary J. Blige and a ton of other artists taking over the MGM Grand Arena this weekend.

Apparently, if an act isn’t playing out west, they’re in Atlanta, and that’s cool with us, right?

On Friday night, Music Midtown – back for a second year in expanded form after its five-year hiatus – packed Piedmont Park with the lineup of Van Hunt, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, T.I., The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters.

I am admittedly terrible at gauging crowds in giant open spaces, but I’m going to take a semi-educated guess that the audience eclipsed last year’s main event night with Coldplay (about 38,000).

And this was the “smaller” night.

Today, the musical festivities continue with Atlanta’s O’Brother at 1 p.m., followed by Civil Twilight (1:30 p.m.), LP (2 p.m.), Garbage (2:45 p.m.), Adam Ant (3:45 p.m.), Ludacris (4:45 p.m.), Neon Trees (5:45 p.m.), Florence and the Machine (6:45 p.m.) and Pearl Jam (9 p.m.).

But back to Friday night.

This is really a seamlessly run event. Yes, the entrance can get congested when thousands of people show up at the same time, but with plenty of beverage tents, enough green space for sprawling, an impressive lineup of food vendors (reasonably priced, though I still balk at paying $4 for a bottle of Coke Zero), interesting merchants and a musical rundown that ran on time all night, it’s hard to find a complaint.

However, a reminder that smoking is banned in Piedmont Park .This is a city ordinance, not a ruling from the Midtown Music Council On High. Let’s try to comply folks, capisce?

If you didn’t attend Friday’s six-and-a-half-hour musical smorgasbord, here’s what you missed (and here’s a gallery from last night’s show):

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Van Hunt:

He hails from Ohio, but the unique singer-songwriter-guitarist rose to prominence in Atlanta. He started his set by noting in a self-deprecating manner, “You don’t know us, but you’re clapping anyway. That’s cool.”

Though Van Hunt was backed only by drummer Ruthie Price, they made a sound much bigger than two (hello, White Stripes), starting with a cool reggae-funk remake of “Mrs. Robinson” and continuing though his “At the End of a Slow Dance” and “Dust.”

Van Hunt is a musical chameleon, bouncing from funk-rock to soul with shades of Prince on some songs and elements of punk on others.

He did have the thankless task of opening the festival at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, so his audience wasn’t huge, but those who caught his set had to be impressed by his diversity.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts:

Here’s what most awesome about Joan Jett. The woman never changes. Even at 54 (her birthday is today), her black mane looks the same as in her Runaways days, she’s still a compact, muscular package in a black tank top and red glitter pants, and her songs are simultaneously gritty and melodic.

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

She kickstarted her hourlong set with “Bad Reputation” and “Cherry Bomb” before leading the growing crowd of a few thousand in a singalong of “Do You Wanna Touch Me?”

Though she can be temperamental, Jett seemed happy to be on stage, grinning alongside the Blackhearts – a grizzled bunch who looked as if they were broiling in their black clothes under the brutal sun.

While fans loved hearing the well-worn hits, Jett tossed in a couple of new tunes, the four-on-the-floor stomper “TMI” and “Hard to Grow Up,” which she said was about, “experiences in life that test who you are as a person.”

“Love is Pain” and the obligatory “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought things back to familiar terrain, and Jett sounded vocally robust throughout her set.

She’s always been a master of unpretentious rock ‘n’ roll, and bless her for remaining true to her roots.


(I had to file a story for the print version of the paper during his set, so here’s a recap from my editor, Jamila Robinson):


Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

One of the more enthusiastic crowds was for Atlanta rapper T.I., whose wave-an-A-shaped hand- in-the-air performance showed off his charisma, if not his fluidity of his skills. Backed by a team on drums, bass and guitar, a DJ handling tracks and the requisite on-stage entourage, T.I. performed his hits “100 Grand,” “Whatever You Like” and his 2010 smash with Rihanna, “Live Your Life.”

With five albums under his belt – or whatever one uses to secure sagging pants – T.I. raced through a lot of material during his 45-minute set, sometimes performing only 60-second snippets. However, his brevity didn’t disappoint this hip-hop-savvy audience that bounced and roared when some of those samples included covers of Kanye West and Jay-Z.

The Avett Brothers:

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

The North Carolina outfit had reason to be gleeful since their latest album, “The Carpenter,” bowed at No. 4 on the Billboard charts last week.

Indeed, the band’s set sprinted out of the gate with the spirited “The Fall” and for 90 minutes, the guys took listeners on an emotional journey that traveled through the twangy “January Wedding,” brought down to a whisper by singer-guitarist Seth Avett, and through the rollicking raise-a-pint-and-your-fist “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” its peaks and valleys giving brother Scott an arena to shine on banjo.

The Avetts craft songs that are made to be played live, in front of thousands of people who gregariously (and sometimes, a little drunkenly) dance and sway along, such as “The Prettiest Thing” which employed an infectious Celtic swing.

The band’s achingly musical set might have been slightly incongruous to the brute force that would soon be unleashed on the stage next to them, but that’s the beauty of these diverse fests.

Foo Fighters:

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

Photo: Robb D. Cohen/

At first, drummer Taylor Hawkins seems most worthy of the comparison to The Muppets’ Animal. After all, he is a drummer, and his insane pounding doesn’t seem as if it could be pulled off by a human.

But then you watch frontman Dave Grohl for a few more minutes and it becomes clear that no, he’s the Animal of this group. A relentless rock ‘n’ roll beast who leads the Foo Fighters through their aggressive – and exhausting to watch in a live performance – songs.

With hair, spit and sweat flying, Grohl howled and growled though a decent portion of the band’s catalog, from “All My Life” to “Hero” to the hard groove of “The Pretender.”

Though many in the mass of people packed near the stage and spread up the hill seemed to be singing along to most songs, when Grohl asked for a show of hands of who had never seen the band before, at least half the crowd chimed in.

“Jesus! We’ve only been a band for 18 f-ing years!” he said jokingly, later noting the obvious that this was the biggest show the Foos had ever played in Atlanta.

Along with their string of familiar tunes, the band broke out “These Days,” from their current CD “Wasting Light,” a song which Grohl said was his favorite of all he’s written.

After a humorous detour into Van Halen’s “Everybody Wants Some” (“We know the first minute of every rock song,” Grohl said) and the introductions of guitarists Pat Smear and Chris Shiflett, bassist Nate Mendel and touring keyboardist Rami Jaffee (who will probably stick around all weekend since his full-time band, The Wallflowers, play Smith’s Olde Bar on Monday), Grohl introduced “The rock ‘n’ roll love of my life.”

Joan Jett bopped out for a hug from the singer, but then left the stage as he dedicated the buzz-sawing “Monkey Wrench” to her.

Fans who might have been disappointed at that point that there wasn’t a Jett duet were satisfied later in the show when she returned to crank out “Bad Reputation.”

The Foos set was a nonstop sensory assault of skittering strobe lights, Grohl’s yowling and Hawkins’ beat-down on the skins. Quite simply, a perfect night of unvarnished rock.

Here’s a snippet of their show.


43 comments Add your comment

Evile fan

September 22nd, 2012
8:12 am

Nobody rocks like ATLANTA!!

Coach Cool

September 22nd, 2012
8:14 am


September 22nd, 2012
8:39 am

The only complaint is that there were not enough Porta Potties!!! PLEASE fix this. The lines were easily 30 minutes. I’ve been to many festivals and it ALWAYS seems to be the “lesson” they learn for this year. Get some more in there today!!


September 22nd, 2012
9:10 am

Friday was fantastic! A great show topped by Foo Fighters. It was unbelievable to see so many people crowded into one space having a great time.


September 22nd, 2012
9:25 am

Only successful way to have a profittable concert in Altanta…. give the city a big cut, 1,000’s of hotel rooms, 1,000’s of car rentals, Millions spent on food etc….. Altanta needs to let an independent event organizer or radio station do this. Then and only then will the A-list artist be on stage….


September 22nd, 2012
9:40 am

Hats off to MM organizers! Considering the numbers to accommodate, the venue was awesome and the shows even better!


September 22nd, 2012
10:00 am

What about Girl Talk??????? He’s supposed to be on tonight at 8:00. Did the line up change?????

yeah com'on

September 22nd, 2012
10:05 am

Great event and great shows yesterday…goes to show that there is rock audience in ATL that needs a station like 99X. The Foo are a great live-rocken band. What was great about this MM with the Foo there was no crazy thunderstorm! Will be back down there today…

West Coast JD

September 22nd, 2012
10:09 am

Atlanta is still a lame town.

Mark A. Darling

September 22nd, 2012
10:17 am

Bands like Avett Brothers, Pearl Jam Florence + the Machine will not be coming to Atlanta as frequently with dwindling local radio support they’re getting. Enjoy them while you can.


September 22nd, 2012
10:18 am

@West Coast then go back where you came from


September 22nd, 2012
10:26 am

Well said @Gail. West Coast, Delta is ready when you are.


September 22nd, 2012
10:27 am




September 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

@westcoast jd – Gail is right. Moving vans were made for people like you. Atl might be lame to you but it’s not a prison…you are free to leave for another “hot” city. But beware you may find that lameness usually is found within lame people like you who offer nothing of value to others.

da troof

September 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

West Coast is right. The music scene here is shiite. There’s nothing like the Knitting Factory, Beale St, or the old CBGB here, for instance. Compare us with NY, San Fran, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Austin…oh and LA…sorry, but ATL is in the stone ages.
Admittedly, some of those places are hell-holes overall (CHI, NY, and LA), I’m just talking strictly music.

da troof

September 22nd, 2012
10:41 am

OH forgot Seattle.

And those of you with your witty rejoinders like “go back to whurr yew came fruuum” can stick it. How about a cogent defense of this plastic town? Because you can’t make the case.



September 22nd, 2012
10:45 am

“With five albums under his belt – or whatever one uses to secure sagging pants”….wondering if this dig was necessary.


September 22nd, 2012
10:48 am

As a resident of 30308, I’m ready for Music Midtown to be done so the suburbanites will return to the mindless sprawl from whence they came. I guess it’s good for the businesses around, which I’m ok with. So much headache for residents though.


September 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

I agree the only issue was not enough bathrooms. They could get rid of some vendor booths and put in more bathrooms.


September 22nd, 2012
11:00 am

SEAMLESS???!!! I couldn’t frigging drive in to my HOME!!!! Police said “drive around for about 30 minutes, then we’ll open the roads again”!!!! What a hick town!!!!!


September 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

The hicks do luv to drive!

Eric Celeste

September 22nd, 2012
11:25 am

Two things: also live in 30308, and didn’t mind the crowds. Worth it for such a great festival. Two, many write-ups noting Grohl said that is fave song ever written; he then added, “Because it only took me five minutes to write.” He was making a little joke.


September 22nd, 2012
11:29 am

Who thought 30 port a potties for 15,000 people was a good idea. We missed the entire Avett Brothers show just waiting to go to the bathroom. Ridiculous. $70 and no toilets is the ATL as I know it.


September 22nd, 2012
11:37 am

Seamless? Not if you actually LIVE in midtown. The street closures created headaches for everyone who lives in a 2 mile radius. Closing Monroe Drive so that kids from the suburbs can come into town for a concert? Music Midtown is noting but a headache for us!


September 22nd, 2012
11:39 am

Hick town? Are you accidentally in south Georgia or something? 5.9M people does not make a town. It makes a city! Does Atlanta have problems? Sure. Is it a crap hole like Philly (another big city)? Hell no. If you want to see the hicks come out, it won’t be at Music Midtown. Think before you speak! Hicks come out for country music, none of which was played last night. On top of that, Atlanta is filled with mostly folks from the north and west. Your statement of Atlanta being a hick town is, therefore, calling yankees hicks. Please go back to sleep…you only continue to insult yourself.


September 22nd, 2012
11:48 am

If you buy home or lease an apartment to be near this beautiful place, then understand that you will then live in a home or apartment that is near this beautiful place. It’s like voting for someone and then acting surprised about it.

Vote For Obama Because He's Black

September 22nd, 2012
11:54 am

Booooo Peter Conlon ! How could you not have the Allman Brothers,Lynyrd Skynyrd,Prince,Morris Day and the Time,Cameo,Travis Tritt,Alan Jackson,Peabo Bryson,SOS Band….I can go on and on.
That would be the right kind of lineup.
You got a bunch of unknowns,rappers who are not musicians.only decent acts arePearl Jam,Joan Jett,Foo Fighters.
Festival sucks compared to MM’S of the past.

david c

September 22nd, 2012
12:07 pm

Can we please just stop calling it Music Midtown. It’s not even close.

[...] you were here last night to hear the Foo Fighters rattle the stage with their razor-sharp rock, the Avett Brothers alternately lull and soar, Joan [...]


September 22nd, 2012
12:41 pm

da troof, would love to hear what would bring Atlanta out of the stone ages in terms of the music scene.

Of course NY and LA are always going to have the biggest scenes just based on their primary roles in the industry, and Chicago, San Fran, and Austin have a strong history, as well.

Nashville has what currently passes for country music, and that’s about it. Memphis has crappy local blues along tourist trap Beale Street, but for anything else, the music scene there is all but non-existent. New Orleans? Dixieland and zydeco/cajun is fun to dance around to while you’re drunk, but have you ever noticed how boring it gets when you listen to it at home?

As for Atlanta, seems to me that the venues around here get a pretty good variety coming through. And, of course, Athens is only an hour away. If you’re into multi-day music fests, true, there’s not a lot here since the original incarnation of MM folded, and the other outdoor music events tend to be smaller.

Authentic peach

September 22nd, 2012
1:43 pm

I don’t like the write up about TI. You could have omitted the line saying- “or whatever one uses o secure sagging pants.” What does that mean? Why did I put it in the write up? He sill got the crowd hype like all the other bands.


September 22nd, 2012
4:09 pm

I agree with other posters – was it necessary to say the part about sagging pants?

Vote For Obama Because He's Black

September 22nd, 2012
6:09 pm

Bear Creek in Live Oak is a real festive atmosphere. You can camp,they have all night parties,drum circles,people are blazin up trees,30-40 bands for 3 days.
Festivals are supposed to be an expression of freedom,not about taking away smoker’s rights,charging $4 for a bottle of water,$8 for a beer with cops everywhere.

Avett Fanatic!!

September 22nd, 2012
6:23 pm

I don’t know about MM of the past but the Avett Brothers were fantastic!!! They may not be as well known as some other acts out there, but they are by far one of the greatest acts out there.!! Super grateful to get to see them in this venue!!

[...] Friday’s lineup packed the park with sets from Joan Jett, T.I., The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters, among others, the mass of [...]

[...] Friday’s lineup packed the park with sets from Joan Jett, T.I., The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters, among others, the mass of [...]

[...] Friday’s lineup packed the park with sets from Joan Jett, T.I., The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters, among others, the mass of [...]

[...] Friday’s lineup packed the park with sets from Joan Jett, T.I., The Avett Brothers and Foo Fighters, among others, the mass of [...]


September 24th, 2012
1:31 pm

What a great weather weekend for music! We had a great time…and with the VIP tickets it was even better. The Foo Fighters have never failed me and Friday night was no excepition. Worth EVERY PENNY! Thank you to all the Music Midtown staff for keeping the place clean…yall worked hard and it showed (P.S. next time don’t over sell the VIP tickets and check id better in the area…lots and lots of others inside). We look forward to every year to come.


September 24th, 2012
1:35 pm

Oh…I wish people would have complied with the NO SMOKING LAW (see above in ajc piece)! Damn…I know it is an outside event, but I still don’t want your smoke in my face! It’s a LAW not a choice…


September 24th, 2012
6:21 pm

[...] (Jaffee, by the way, had another gig in Atlanta over the weekend – playing to a slightly larger crowd with the Foo Fighters Friday night at Music Midtown.) [...]

[...] to The Atlanta Journal, T.I. shut it down during his set on Friday… One of the more enthusiastic crowds was for [...]