Music Midtown weathers the storm

Photo by Monica Jamison

Piedmont Park was once again home to one of Atlanta’s annual music festivals, Music Midtown. Over 200,000 people had come from all over to attend this year’s festival. Typically taking place on a Friday and Saturday, the festival this year took place on Saturday and Sunday instead. The decision to change the days of the festival were not too popular, at least among Tech students because of school and work the next day.

In the past, the festival has welcomed many big name artists such as Elton John, Drake, Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Although arguably not as strong of a lineup as in the past, this year’s Music Midtown had a diverse range of performances.

The four headliners ­— Beck, Twenty-One Pilots, Deadmau5 and the Killers all drew huge crowds while catering to a different group of people. Besides these four closing acts, there were several noteworthy acts that had taken place earlier in the day. These performances included Chvrches, Lucius, Daya and Melanie Martinez.

One of the most anticipated performances was Kesha as she has not performed often since her high-profile and ongoing dispute with Dr. Luke. Due to her recent lawsuit, Kesha is unable to perform any of her new songs. As a result, she covered a couple of songs, but this was not popular with the crowd and many people ended up leaving in the middle of her set.

Music Midtown is not as big as other festivals around the country but nevertheless does a good job at maintaining the festival vibes with four large stages, expensive food and drinks, and large crowds. Even for the smallest artists, such as Balkan Beat Box on Saturday, a sizeable crowd aggregated around the stage and were in good spirits.

The presence of food trucks, many of which were Tech regulars, helped to diversify the regular corn-dog and funnel-cake festival fare. Many concertgoers elected to buy a $20 pineapple filled with some sort of slushy concoction which nobody at the stand could describe beyond “it’s delicious.” The free water stations scattered around the festival grounds distilled water ranging from warm to hot but were easy to use, save for the mud that surrounded the areas after spills and rain.

Had the weather been pleasant, the main logistics issue would have been that the food lines were incredibly long and accessibility to first aid tents. There were first aid tents located all around the park, however, navigating to them in the sea of intoxicated people was a problem in itself.

Unfortunately, the weather was anything but pleasant. Saturday was marked by intense heat, and it did not help being crowded by thousands of people who were lighting up. It would have been nice to have fans, tents or complimentary water to help mitigate the heat and allow visitors to rest from the sun and humidity.

The beating sun was replaced by low hanging gray clouds on Sunday. From 2:00 p.m. to around 5:30 p.m. it was raining continuously. With the threat of lightning looming over the area, the event had to be evacuated. This was where Music Midtown dropped the ball. The evacuation was not organized efficiently at all. Firstly, the evacuation was not properly conveyed. Announcements were made near each of
the stages, however the only way for those not near the stage to know what was happening was through either word of mouth or through the Music Midtown mobile application.

The application was intuitive and could have been a great resource, but signal at the event was awful depending on one’s cell service carrier. Many people were not able to get the announcements on their phones informing them about the evacuation.

Those staffing the event were also unclear as to what was happening. Different staff members were communicating different things to the festival attendees. Some were saying that the rest of the festival was canceled and that some of the artists were leaving the venue. Other staff members said that the event was simply being delayed.

Once the weather had cleared up, performances resumed as normal. Besides the evacuation fiasco, Music Midtown ran smoothly and successfully, with a solid and diverse lineup.