Music Midtown loudly returns

Lil Baby captures the attention of a rapt crowd as he performs some of his top hits like “Freestyle.” Lil Baby is originally from Atlanta, making him a local favorite. // Photo by Elisabeth Lau Student Publications

On its almost 30th anniversary, Music Midtown continues to remain a staple in the Atlanta music scene and in the broader festival scene across the nation.

Last year’s Music Midtown was canceled for, as the organizer explained, “circumstances beyond our [Music Midtown’s] control,” a month prior to the festival. 

The festival’s absence left fans disappointed — not only to see the tradition falter but also to see the loss of a star-studded lineup that included My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy and Tinashe. 

Many hoped that Music Midtown would take this as an opportunity to come back bigger and better; however, many fans felt that this year’s lineup left much to be desired.

Previous years have placed the focus on already established and popular stars. 2021’s lineup saw stars like Miley Cyrus and 21 Savage headlining the festival, and 2022’s lineup featured My Chemical Romance, a band that had just re-entered the music scene after breaking up in 2013.

This year’s headliners (Pink, Flume, Billie Eilish, The 1975, Guns N’ Roses and Lil Baby) seemed like an odd collection of artists that didn’t speak to the festival’s usual vibrance.

Older artists like Pitbull drew large crowds of mostly young adults chanting along to nostalgic hits, such as “Hotel Room Service” and “Timber,” but even within these large performances, it felt like the audience lacked the connection with the artist that sets good concerts apart from great ones.

This is not to say that every performance was lackluster. Billie Eilish’s ending performance on Saturday night left fans astonished. Covering a range of emotional ballads to catchier songs, Eilish was able to capture the crowd at the end of a full day of music — a difficult feat in itself. Against a backdrop of an impressive light show and fireworks, Eilish delivered a mature performance that showed her growth, winning over fans and non-fans alike.

In a similar fashion, Lil Baby — the penultimate act of the entire festival — pulled in large crowds of fans chanting every word of his songs. Even though he came on 15 minutes late, Lil Baby brought an unwavering energy to the stage that the crowd matched at every turn. As an Atlanta native, Lil Baby was placed in a unique position to pay homage to the city — a timely tie-in to Music Midtown’s roots.

Smaller acts, such as Yung Gravy and Lizzy McAlpine,  that have recently burst into popularity via TikTok and other social media  provided further variety to the festival. Festival attendees were able to sing along with songs that have gone viral on platforms such as TikTok even without knowing any of their other discography. Seeing a diverse group of attendees sing along to a single stanza felt unifying and spoke to what Music Midtown is about.

All in all, Music Midtown was a success. With the struggles around the cancellation of last year’s event, Music Midtown came back strong, proving its rightful place in Atlanta’s entertainment culture. While some of the acts may not have been the perfect choice for this particular festival, Music Midtown still drew huge crowds to the grassy and muddy greens of Piedmont Park to celebrate music as diverse as its attendees are, successfully fulfilling its original purpose.