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Pleased with Music Midtown's lineup? Happy it's back?

An expanded festival announces its musical acts for September's two-day event.

Music Midtown is officially back, but come late September when the expanded two-day festival returns to Piedmont Park, will neighborhoods surrounding the park be singing a happy tune?

In recent months, the grumblings from Midtown residents have grown concerning the burden the neighborhood must bear in order for the rest of the city to party during a string of spring, summer and fall festivals and events staged in and near the park.

But at Tuesday night’s press party at Greystone in the park to announce this year’s lineup, there were nothing but smiles abound as Live Nation Atlanta President Peter Conlon praised this year's “incredible lineup” with the combination of co-headliners Foo Fighters and Pearl Jam “pretty much a dream.”

Music Midtown 2012 will be held on Sept. 21 and 22. The first night, a Friday, will feature the likes of Foo Fighters, Van Hunt, TI, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, and The Avett Brothers. The Saturday schedule includes Pearl Jam, Ludacris, Girl Talk, Florence and The Machine, Civil Twilight, LP, and O’Brother. More acts are expected to be announced.

What do you think of this musical lineup? Happy that Music Midtown is returning to Piedmont Park?

Atlanta City Councilmen Kwanza Hall and Alex Wan attended Tuesday’s event and both sang the praises of Conlon, Live Nation and the return of Music Midtown, which last September after a five-year hiatus, drew 38,000 people to the park for a one-day concert headlined by The Black Keys and Coldplay. 2011 marked the first time the event was held in Piedmont Park's meadow after previously being staged at a variety of locales around Midtown and Downtown Atlanta from 1994-2005.

“I was thrilled when Peter told me he wanted to do Music Midtown again,” said Wan, whose represents District 6, home to the park. “A lot of different people, festivals want to come to Piedmont Park because it’s such a great asset to our city, but Live Nation took that extra step last year to make sure the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods was minimal. Of all the festivals that came through, the one the neighborhoods point to as the best example of how to run a great event, to engage the neighbors, and really consider how an event impacts them, it definitely was Live Nation and Music Midtown.”

Added Hall: “I’m really excited about what this means for the city. Last year, Mayor (Kasim) Reed kicked this off and it really is a new era in live music in the city and it set the tone for something great going forward. We want to have a very vibrant city and this is one of those things that makes it happen. Our Midtown economy, our entertainment industry is really carrying the day in terms of jobs and opportunity.”

But at what cost? Midtown residents will again have to contend with street closures and an influx of tens of thousands of visitors in the days surrounding the event and while it is being staged. While almost 40,000 people attended last year’s one-day fest, event promoters will have almost twice as long to sell tickets this year for the extended event, and festival organizers expect around 120,000 people to attend according to an application for an outdoor festival permit filed with the city.

On The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s blog about Tuesday's announcement, one individual with the screen name “from where I live” wrote about last year’s event:

“To say the neighborhoods were delighted with how well things went is a huge stretch. It was a mess and a total pain how they ran traffic closures on 10th St. for a week with two schools on the road. Signage for road closures by the City were poor to non-existent; I have tried hard to forget the “communication snafus” about what they actually were going to do when and accommodate a major commuter corridor and school buses and all the rest.
Two days? Oh help… trash out the yin-yang the city won’t clean up, the grass in the park in big dead squares because of the stage supports. One day is tolerable, two days is shades of Freaknik irrespective of attendees’ skin color. Pimpin’ out the park again to make the mayor some $$ and brownie points with the entertainment industry.’’

Another individual, “Concert Lover” commented:

“I love outdoor concerts…and I love some of these bands… so that’s not the issue. Music Midtown is getting too big for Piedmont Park! So, what’s in it for the Park? Piedmont Park Conservancy? The adjacent neighborhoods? I prefer The Green Concert, a 1 day event, with only 2 bands, which brings in the same numbers, and partners with the PPC. Music Midtown is more of a hostile takeover of a public asset by the city and promoters. Whatever happened to spreading the “love” to other parks, giving Piedmont Park a rest between monstrous festivals, giving the neighboring taxpayers a rest between monstrous festivals?”

Still, Wan said he was optimistic for a well-run event that will be enjoyed by many: "I’m pleased to hear they’re doing the same neighborhood parking and safety measures that they took last year,'' he said. "I’m looking forward to a very successful 2012 event.”

Earlier this month, that in an effort to decrease the impact on the neighborhood, they intend to perform the major stage and equipment load-in, which includes intermittent street closures on 10th Street between Charles Allen Drive and Monroe Drive, on Sunday, September 16.

At Tuesday’s gathering, Conlon praised the City and the park for their contributions to the event. “We love Piedmont Park; it’s our Central Park,” he said. Later he added, “Mayor Reed has been incredible. We have someone who really understands the value of entertainment both culturally and in economics.”

Through a press release, the mayor added his two cents, “One of the best things about Atlanta is its thriving arts and culture community,” said Reed. “This is a city that is deeply tied to the music, film and entertainment industry. The Music Midtown concert series, which returned to Atlanta last September, is a world-class event which attracts thousands of music lovers to the heart of the city for unparalleled live music, food, energy and excitement.” 

Tickets go on sale this Saturday, April 28 at 10 a.m. at www.musicmidtown.com, www.livenation.com or charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000. As the official credit card of Music Midtown, Citi card members will have access to presale tickets beginning Wednesday, April 25 at 10 a.m. through Citi's Private Pass Program until Friday, April 27 at 10 p.m. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com.

Early Bird general admission tickets are $55 for a one-day pass or $100 for a two-day pass + $1 for Mayor Reed's Centers for Hope initiative. Conlon remarked that sometime during the summer, general admission ticket prices will increase to $65 for a one-day pass and $120 for a two-day pass.

VIP packages will be available for an enhanced festival experience to include:

Citi VIP Club           $ 250.00 per day/ticket

  • Admission to the festival
  • Private VIP entrance
  • Private Hospitality area with complimentary food and beverage
  • Private air-conditioned restrooms

Super VIP           $ 1,000.00/ticket

  • Admission to the festival with complimentary commemorative t-shirt
  • Private VIP entrance
  • Valet parking
  • Backstage Viewing Area of both stages
  • Private Hospitality area with complimentary food and beverage
  • Private air-conditioned restrooms
  • VIP Laminate
Hunt Archbold (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM
One our Midtown Facebook users, Martin Kemp, posted this today: "I'm all for outdoor events, that's why I choose to live in Midtown. To enjoy everything the city has to offer. My issue as a Midtown resident and tax payer is the total disregard festival goers who do not live intown have for our neighborhoods. They park nilly willy, tie up streets, block driveways and dump garbage in our park and streets. The city and promoters can sing praise all they like. There is a reality to the situation that is not advertised. Since this festival is going to happen without our input my suggestion to my Midtown and Highland neighbors would be for all of us to forget we have driveways for two days, park on the street and tie them up. We may find them cleaner Sunday morning and this would allow festival goers to do what we do on a daily basis....walk to our intown destinations."
SM April 25, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I live across from the park and chose to live there because I love Piedmont Park and all the activities that go on there! However, I do have a question about the money that goes back into our community from these festivals. How much money is donated to the Piedmont Park conservancy for hosting festivals/Midtown Music? I know they are raising money for expansion and I would love to see some of these festivals donate back to the park (more than just the expense for clean-up). Also, is there a way to raise money for the local neighborhood associations, schools, and the Beltline through these festivals. I know at Sweetwater 420 fest this weekend---anyone who wanted to drink paid a $5 entry fee to benefit Candler Park--This allowed families to attend for free , and for those of us who wanted a beer, it was a minimal cost to attend such a great festival! I did notice this week that our usual street parking was taken up with non-residents (our street parking is permit only). Although PARK Atlanta was out like piranhas, the idea of a $25 ticket to get a prime parking spot did not matter--especially when Grady HS was charging $20 to park. Also, the money from parking tickets does not go back to the community. I'm wondering if during festivals, parking in resident only parking should be a $50 ticket---with $25 going back to the community---this would discourage this "willy-nilly parking" and support our community in improvements when it is "abused" through extra use.
SM April 25, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Hunt, I would be interested if you could do an article on the benefits to the Park/Community from festivals---or possibly how some festivals/events could increase their support for the community.
Sara Van Beck April 25, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Unfortunately I heard multiple stories of ParkAtlanta INTENTIONALLY ignoring Dogwood visitors parked in crosswalks while pedestrians had to negotiate for themselves. (While ticketing residents parked with a bumper barely breaking the plane of the paint during the week). Ask other residents and they howl about the lack of clean=up afterwards. The road closures on 10th St and havoc wreaked on two open schools with little regard at first; I hope will not happen again... The City / Mayor's Office / Events wants these large festivals for the revenue they generate, then won't allow the basics to occur that are critical for good management. One day is fine by me. Two, not so much. The $20 at Grady HS all goes to student clubs as their major fundraisers, as opposed to ill-advised contracts with Park Atlanta. Draft on Taft used to (still does?) donate a portion of their "take" to Midtown Neighbors' Assoc. projects, and helped with tree planting projects in the past.
Nicholas Wolaver April 25, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Though I support the Festival and its location (my residence is three blocks from the park), I'm not crazy about this year's lineup so will likely spend my concert dollars on other music events. Georgia has some A-list Grammy and CMA winners year after year, and it would be cool to see more of them play this festival instead of reading about their great outdoor events in other cities.
CL April 25, 2012 at 10:33 PM
You chose to live in the heart of the city, not a cul-de-sac in the suburbs. Stop complaining and problem-solve. The whining to ban such events is ridiculous because something else would happen to make you whine later.
Hunt Archbold (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 10:17 AM
SM, we're going to be looking at this further. Thanks to all for chiming in.
Joey April 26, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I echo CL's post. I live half a block from the park, and I love that there is so much action at my front door. Events like this are half the reason to live ITP. The ability to put on an event like this and pull the national acts that we do only adds to the prestige of our city and the Midtown neighborhood. I understand that road closures can be an inconvenience, but it's 2 days - a minor nuisance at best.
Tim April 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Maybe only two days closing 10th St for this event, but then 3 days for the Peachtree Rd race etc. And really, these road closures are totally un-necessary. If the event producers for the road race, and Music Midtown etc would work a little with the neighborhoods, this would go smoother and we all could enjoy the events more.
Ashley April 30, 2012 at 01:54 AM
I live in Macon but already bought tickets for Music Midtown because the lineup is almost too good to be true (for me, anyway - Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, the Avett Brothers, Civil Twilight AND Ludacris?) But after reading this I'm starting to feel really badly about attending. If it makes a difference, I've always been a conscientious festival goer - I make sure to not only throw away all my trash but pick up other things I see too. Hopefully with the event being several months away, the city has plenty of time to plan for these issues and execute the festival better than they did last year.
DLPTony April 30, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I live two blocks from the park, and I agree with Joey about the prestige this adds to our neighborhood. However...I am concerned no one knows whether or not a portion of the ticket sales are kicked back to the park. If this no-brainer was missed, then it only highlights the gripes/concerns about the proper planning to handle road closures, trash pickup, etc. Folks are going to complain, but for the love of Lexus....don't give them low hanging fruit!
Peachy Parking September 17, 2012 at 01:53 PM
If you are looking for parking for midtown Atlanta check out Central Parking's Colony Square lot. http://atlanta.centralparking.com/Atlanta-1175-Peachtree-Street-NE-Parking.html
Clicker September 17, 2012 at 03:06 PM
What's in it for the Park? Looks like nothing if you go by the Music Midtown website. As mentioned above, The Mayor's pet charity will rack up some cash. http://musicmidtown.com/community/centers-of-hope/ As for those complaining about these events that take place in the park, what planet have you been living on? This has been an ongoing issue for the 20+ years that I lived near the park. You just have to deal with it - take the good with the bad. If the Music Midtown producers do a bad job with clean-up afterwards (and I believe it is their responsibility to make sure that the park gets cleaned up, not the city's) then take some pictures and work on holding their feet to the fire afterwards. As to the neigborhood surrounding the park's cleanup, well, don't count on the city acting too quickly. But do take lots of pictures and get your neighbors involved in the cleanup. Bombard city hall and Music Midtown promoters afterwards. It probably won't change anything, but it may make you feel better.

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