Started in 1994, the Music Midtown festival is held at the 200 acre Piedmont Park in the Midtown area of Atlanta. Festival attendance runs around 150-200,000 people over a Friday-Saturday in mid September. There are four major stages around the park for national acts and a smaller stage for local acts.
This year’s acts included Daryl Hall & John Oates, Lenny Kravitz, Sam Smith, Van Halen, Drake, Billy Idol, Panic at the Disco, Hozier and Atlanta resident Elton John, just to name a few. I arrived late Saturday afternoon just in time to hear Hall & Oates as I was walking toward the fest. There were people dancing in the street, riding bicycles, walking in large groups toward the sound of “She’s Gone” and singing along. Street musicians, people selling cheap bottled water and characters of all kinds along the way to the entrance. There were free samples of everything from power bars to hummus. By the time I got to the gate “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) was in full swing and sounding great! The vibe was friendly and chill. There was a wide array of food and drink. ATM’s and cell phone charging stations, festival merchandise and even the Signing Shack for fans to meet artists. People were friendly and having fun!
Coming up next was Lenny Kravitz and I decided to head to the Honda stage to get a good spot. If you want to be up close you can plan on standing at least an hour waiting for the artist. If you don’t want to deal with that craziness, then walk out to the field and put down a blanket. The sound was great at this festival from all the stages. Mr. Kravitz does a great show. His band is talented, tight horn section and background vocals are all in sync. Lenny is soulful, energetic and loves the crowd. He played both new tunes and the hits including American Woman, I Wanna Fly Away, Mama Said and It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.
When Lenny finished, I made my way over to Van Halen stage and while walking over listening to Sam Smith on the Electric Ballroom Stage, he sounded amazing and the crowd was massive. Van Halen’s Belk stage was a walk across the park but no mistaking that VH sound as I got closer to the stage. David Lee Roth in a sequined red jacket singing “Hot For Teacher” with the entire crowd singing along to every word. The light show and sound were perfect. Eddie Van Halen was in top form, looking sober and smiling, his guitar skills were on fire. “Jump”, “Panama” and “Dance the Night Away” were among the hits. Van Halen is back!
Music Midtown is a good time festival that is a big city with a small town feel. The musical acts are a great mix, there is something for everyone. Atlanta is an hour by plane or you can take a road trip up I-75, either way, if festivals are your thing, then you will not want to miss 2016!
photos by Vicky Sullivan, Rock the Lens Photography for The Sarasota Post