Music Midtown returns after 2022 cancellation

Thousands of fans flood Piedmont Park during the weekend of Sept. 15-17 to attend Music Midtown.
Thousands of fans flood Piedmont Park during the weekend of Sept. 15-17 to attend Music Midtown.
Kyle Nadler
The festival returns
Rapper Lil Baby performs at Music Midtown on Sunday, Sept. 17. (Abby Hyken)

Screaming fans, muddy grass and an air of excitement: Music Midtown returned to Piedmont Park after a year-long hiatus. 

The three-day festival was canceled last year due to Georgia’s Safe Carry Protection Act, which allows guns on public land, such as Piedmont Park. This law created an issue for Music Midtown as the festival was not allowed to prohibit weapons, ultimately leading to its cancellation. Music Midtown worked around the law by requiring attendees to go through metal detectors, ensuring no weapons were brought in.

Thousands of music fans gathered Sept. 15-17 in the park to watch more than 30 artists perform on four different stages. The event regularly draws Atlanta high school students, including many Midtown students.

“My favorite part was hearing live music, even if it’s an unfamiliar artist,” junior Anna Hutcherson said. “My favorite artists that I’ve seen [in the past] were probably Girl in Red or Machine Gun Kelly, and I’m super excited for Billie Eilish, Yung Gravy and Pitbull this year.”

Senior Marissa Chamberlain attended Music Midtown for the first time and was excited to hear the variety of music.

“I haven’t been there before, so I didn’t know what to expect,” Chamberlain said.“But I love concerts. So, I was just excited to be there and listen to all the good music.”

Though this was Chamberlain’s first time at Music Midtown, she had planned to go last year until it was canceled. 

“I would’ve been bummed not to have that experience this year,” Chamberlain said. “I love concerts and being with my friends, and I also got to see everyone that I knew from other schools. It was nice to have that be a part of my senior year and [I] made great memories.”

Security breach

While there were many security measures in place at the festival, including metal detectors and countless security guards, several Midtown festival-goers, including senior Nate Gettig, said their phones were stolen.  

“[My phone] got taken out of my pocket even though it was zipped up and when I went to go check for it, it wasn’t there,” Gettig said. “I thought I dropped it, so I got my friends to look in the mud, but we couldn’t find it.”

Junior Chase Hopkins had a similar experience, although the thief was unsuccessful in stealing her phone. 

“I was with a group at one of the concerts, and I had heard about everyone getting their phones stolen, so I was holding mine,” Hopkins said. “And I feel this guy [behind me] grab my back pocket to try to steal my phone, but it was in my hand.”

In terms of safety at the festival, Gettig acknowledges that many people got their phones stolen, even with many security guards.

“I’ve heard of [many] people getting their phones stolen,” Gettig said. “I guess there isn’t much security could’ve done, but people were definitely stealing stuff right in front of them.”

Hopkins agrees and believes more could’ve been done to prevent the many thefts. 

“I think the medical staff did a good job of helping when a medical emergency occurred, like someone passing out,” Hopkins said. “But when it came to security, I know that my friend and a lot of other people had reported that their phones had been stolen, but security didn’t do much about it.”

Provisions and photography
Festival-goers relax in Piedmont Park in between performances during Music Midtown. (Kyle Nadler)

Music Midtown’s return this year brought back the opportunity for businesses to work with Live Nation, the producer of the festival, again. Besides the typical vendor providing food and drink for the public, some larger businesses stationed around Piedmont Park worked directly with Live Nation to support the Music Midtown performers.

“It was great being able to serve the crew of Live Nation again and have Music Midtown back in Piedmont Park,” Park Tavern owner Paul Smith said. “We always enjoy working with promoters that are able to get a permit to do an event.”

King of Pops benefits greatly from the festival, King of Pops CEO Carse said. The weekend brings a large increase in sales for the company and Carse said it was disappointing to lose the business last year.

“[Music Midtown is] important to us,” Carse said. “I mean, to put it in context, we would get five to 10 times more in sales on a big festival weekend like Music Midtown.”

Many King of Pops workers were also impacted by the cancellation, Carse said.

“Beyond how it impacts our business, it also impacts the team that executes it,” Carse said. “I know it’s something that they kind of mark on their calendar each year as something that’s really fun.”

Park Tavern works directly with Live Nation to provide meals for the stage crew, performers, security and staff. Working with companies on such special events allows the business to grow.

“During these events, those who we feed come to the restaurant, pick up their meals or eat at the restaurant,” Smith said. “It makes us a very stable business model, having special events and then big festivals, the ones that we do and then the ones that we’re a service provider for. We’ve worked with a lot of bands, production companies and special events; so, every week is something new and different.”

Many businesses provide services for the festival. Concert Photographer Kyle Nadler covered the event for Exclusive Access, a local online publication. Nadler applied for media credentials when the Music Midtown lineup was first announced.

“I went all three days, and it was really fun; it was very muddy and rainy, but it was great,” Nadler said. “I think it was my first time shooting there since 2019, and I think it was really well put together.”

Nadler believes the festival was better organized this year compared to years past.

“Since the festival has grown and a lot of the artists that they were having there have grown, I think it was more well-planned this time around,” Nadler said. “I think that sort of forced them to be a little more organized and allow less photographers in, which makes my job easier.”

Although Nadler appreciates the opportunity to shoot at Music Midtown, he said it has become harder to get approved to be a photographer at the event, even after getting approved through his company.

“I heard concerts were getting a little bit tougher to apply to get credentials for [the festival], and that’s why it was just me from Exclusive Access,” Nadler said. “I reached out to [Live Nation] around April – maybe even May – and they didn’t let me know I was approved to shoot until maybe three or two weeks before.”

Despite the festival’s flaws, Hutcherson believes the festival’s return was the best outcome and she said she plans to attend it again. 

“Of course, no event of this size is always going to be perfect, but you just can’t match the atmosphere that it provides,” Hutcherson said. “It’s just so fun, and I’m really glad that [Music Midtown] came back this year, and I will definitely go again next year.”

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Abby Hyken
Abby Hyken, Editor in Chief
Abby Hyken is a senior and the comment section Editor in Chief. She is a fourth-year writer for the paper and is excited to write for the Southerner this year. When she's not writing, she's competing for Midtown’s Public Forum debate team and spending time with friends and family.
Hannah Silver
Hannah Silver, Lifestyle Associate Managing Editor
Hannah Silver is a junior and this is her third year writing for the Southerner. When she's not spending her time writing, she is doing cheer, is beta club co-vice president, plays violin, is a company member at her dance studio, is a latin club officer, jewish student union leadership member, and enjoys hanging out with her friends.
Lizzie Lyman
Lizzie Lyman, Writer
Lizzie Lyman is a sophomore at Midtown and writes Lifestyle and A&E stories. She enjoys theater and art, and is excited for her first year on staff.

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