“The Festival of the South”: Music Midtown Review

By Claudia Leslie, Contributor

Music Midtown delighted a variety of age groups through a diverse selection of music and entertainment.
Music Midtown delighted a variety of age groups through a diverse selection of music and entertainment.

College students, 70-year-old hippies and music lovers all over the Southeast flooded to Atlanta Sept. 18-19 to attend Music Midtown. The festival returned to Piedmont Park this month for the fourth year in a row since it’s hiatus in 2005. Renowned as a premier sui generis festival, the two day event attracted hundreds of thousands of festival goers from across the country, including a number Furman students.  

Past line ups for Music Midtown included names from Foo Fighters, Ludacris, Cak, and Journey to Lana Del Rey, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, John Mayer and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Since the festival returned to Atlanta, it has accumulated some big names from the industry. This year was no exception. The lineup was comprised of headliners such as Drake, Elton John, Van Halen and Sam Smith, as well as smaller names like Vance Joy, X Ambassadors and Kodaline.

Grace Orie, class of 2019, attended Music Midtown this year and says despite a few minor changes, the festival was excellent as usual.

“[I] found that there were more singers that appealed to the younger generation last year,” she said, “but I think they did a good job with this year’s line-up as well.”

One thing I noticed at Music Midtown is the variety of festival-goers.  Enthusiasts were of all ages and backgrounds. The spectrum of performers and genres, from Drake to Hall and Oates, certainly attracted music lovers from all walks of life. One could see 70-year-old hippies getting down at the Belk stage and 14-year-old wannabes doing their thing a short walk away at the Honda stage.

“There are three types of people [at the festival]: a genuinely interesting and hipster crowd, girls who just bought flower crowns and white converse for their Instagram pictures and people who came for Sam Smith,” junior Sam McCoy said. “I don’t know where I fell into that mix, but it sure did make for a good time!”

The festival attracted huge sponsors such Coca Cola, Coors Light, Uber and Southwest Airlines, who set up tons of activities for attendees to win prizes. Uber even offered each ticket purchaser a free Uber ride to the festival. Adjacent to the sponsorship tents was an array of festival food tents. Although it was overpriced, (I paid $8 for a basket of fries) what festival has food that isn’t expensive?

The food was not the only thing overpriced. The tickets have become exceptionally expensive in recent years. When I attended in 2012, a ticket cost $60 and there was a choice for cheaper individual day passes. This year, it was $150 for a two-day wristband and  day passes were not an option.

Freshman Riley Gessnerm felt a similar annoyance over ticket prices.

“The wristbands were convenient because I was there for two days,” she said, “but some of my buddies couldn’t go because they didn’t want to pay for both days when they could only go to one.”

Although the festival has become increasingly expensive, the festival organizers continue to bring in bigger names. Still, many people outside of Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina know about Music Midtown despite its expansion. Its audience size could have benefitted from a better campaign on social media, something that isn’t as necessary for more established festivals like Coachella.  Granted, comparing Music Midtown to Coachella is unfair; however, if they put more effort into hyping it up, they could attract even more festival goers. Music Midtown started in 1994, and honestly I think it deserves more recognition. If they keep bringing big names and tweak some issues, Music Midtown is on its way to being the next Austin City Limits.

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