Being new to Atlanta, when I heard about Music Midtown I had no preconceptions on what to expect because it was my first time having never attended past festivals. I just saw Coldplay headlining the roster and didn’t care who else was performing. I have a feeling many others felt the same way too based on the size of the crowd that was packed up against the stage at the end of the night for their performance which closed out the festival.
When I had asked others to join me there was a mixed response; some thought the fee was too high, others said some of the bands weren’t to their taste, but to me, coming from Los Angeles where one concert alone can cost $55 this was a wonderful bargain and the opportunity to hear new music I had never heard before.
Researching some of the bands online I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Joy Formidable was from Wales, had a female lead singer and had just signed with Canvasback Music/Atlantic Records. I believe they were the only band with a female performer which was nice to see, and I hope more are included after their successful appearance at Music Midtown.
I was also intrigued with Manchester Orchestra after hearing their latest songs online too. Both bands gave great concerts and it was fun to see their music live since it’s a totally different experience than seeing the carefully packaged online presence. To be honest, I would never have guessed Manchester Orchestra would be so raucous after listening online.
Being the hometown favorite, they had an enthusiastic following with a crowd totally into their music, waving their hands and singing along as the lead singer screamed out song after song. Apparently he’s quite a prolific songwriter and they had to pare down over 100 songs to the 10 on their current album.
I also enjoyed hearing Young the Giant and feel they are definitely ones to watch because they were quite popular too. I normally don’t like a lot of indie music having attended so many bad concerts at the Roxy and Viper Room in Hollywood over the years waiting for my favorite bands to come on. However, even I enjoyed hearing Young the Giant perform which is saying something. I liked hearing they were from CA. Their music is very melodic and lyrically interesting.
What I liked about the structure of Music Midtown is there weren’t concurrent bands playing all over the park at once which gave you the opportunity to fully experience each band’s performance. Two main stages hosted each band in separate sections at separate times and you basically walked back and forth between the two to hear whatever you wanted with a new vantage point each time. The music also carried well across the entire Piedmont Park. Even if you weren’t right up at the stage you felt like you were still at a concert which was enjoyable.
The variety of vendors was eclectic too ranging from jewelry to event merch to hair feathers to food, but the vendors who stood out the most to me was the AT & T tent due to their phone charging station which was a godsend, among other fun activities; and the smoking tent which I figured must be a Southern thing because you would NEVER see something like that in health-conscious California.
Although I did end up attending alone, I never felt lonely because from the moment I stepped onto Marta and traveled to Piedmont Park to the entire day of music and afterward heading home I was surrounded by music fans that appreciate music and we had an instant bond. Everyone was super friendly and helpful too. Southerners in general are much friendlier than Angelenos which is a refreshing change about living here.
Saw a band member from The Silver Comet I had met at the Driven Music Conference the weekend before who made a point of saying hello once he recognized me which was nice too. I want to see them perform live next.
After wandering around for hours between the two stages, the booths and the port-a-potties, I ended up grabbing a seat near the 92.9 FM Dave booths and enjoyed listening to The Black Keys from atop the sloping hill. Great set design, great pacing and great selection of songs. Had no idea some of my favorite songs, Howlin’ For You and Tighten Up, were theirs since I normally hear new music on the radio and had never caught who they were before. Very pleasantly surprised.
Each band’s performance built upon the other to create an excitement that never seemed to die among the crowd which appeared to be close to 50,000, but I could be wrong. When it came time for Coldplay to perform I made my way down as close as I could even though it was difficult. I ended up standing in a great location a little ways back from the stage near two couples, a group of Asians, and a group of college kids who all befriended me.
There was a moment during the concert when a guy was being passed overhead and ended up dropping on the guy’s girlfriend who was standing near me which caused a small ruckus in our area ironically accompanied by one of Coldplay’s more mellow songs. However, after threats by numerous guys, he quietly slunk back into the crowd cowed into obedience.
How can anyone stay upset though when you’re hearing song after song of your favorite band playing their music exactly as you hear it on the radio or your IPod set to fireworks and an amazing light show which constantly entertained and intrigued everyone?
It truly felt like a campfire experience with the entire crowd singing along, dancing, and throwing the bouncing balls tossed out into the audience all around. I loved the ebb and flow of fast songs followed by slower, more contemplative songs. The last concert I saw of this caliber was John Mayer at the Hollywood Bowl. Both Chris and John have lyrics that resonate with emotion and feeling along with being amazingly talented musicians with great band members who create a cohesive unique sound.
Throughout the concert Chris Martin played numerous guitars and the piano, even playing a cover of REM’s Everybody Hurts in honor of them disbanding, which even he appeared to have a hard time understanding. The energy of the band infused the crowd throughout the entire show and no one was talking, just enjoying the music the entire concert, unlike jaded Los Angeles concert goers who never stop talking for some reason.
My all time favorite Coldplay song, Viva la Vida, was played mid-concert and everyone was still singing along acapella long after the song had ended we all love it so much. Coldplay performed hit after hit after hit and then some new music which was also well-received. I have seen a lot of music concerts and this is going down as one of my favorites to date.
One of the keys to the success of Coldplay, apart from their musical talent, is their appreciation of all their fans and never taking them for granted no matter how huge they become. It was sweet to hear them perform Georgia on my Mind and hear Chris say how much he enjoyed being here in Atlanta again.
The weather was temperate and apart from that little incident the entire day was perfect on so many levels. Really looking forward to next year’s Music Midtown because from what I can tell, they’re back and stronger than ever.
Great introduction to the Atlanta music scene.
Jonah Parzen-Johnson at Lilypad
Jonah Parzen-Johnson has an innate ability to make the baritone sax sound like bagpipes, and maybe that’s why I cried.
Mostly I cried because Jonah tells radiant stories with his saxophone and analog synth, working the brass and pedals to recreate the framework which surrounds his album Remember When Things Were Better Tomorrow: Parzen-Johnson wanted to make “something of myself that’s for everybody else.”
Jonah opened his set with “Stay There, I’ll Come to You,” showcasing the harmony between synth and sax right off the bat. With haunting lilts, the two combined into a ribbon of melody, pulsating inside the ear as well as the heart. Much like the song’s title, Jonah was the one approaching the audience as an experimental troubadour of tête-à-tête.
The back stories and thoughts behind each song tied in so well with the raw, almost throaty sax, developing such strong, emotional resonance with the musical layers. The skeleton shook.
Speedy Ortiz “riiiiise above and gliiiiiide away” at The Sinclair
The Sinclair was a packed house Wednesday night for the Speedy Ortiz CD release party; as a hometown gig for the Northampton, MA-based band, kinetic warmth buzzed through friends and fans alike as Sadie Dupuis and crew played their freshly-release Foil Deer track-by-track.
What’s a party without some guests, though? That’s where Krill and Mitski come in.
Krill kicked off the night with some tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, other goods from Lucky Leaves. Lead singer/bassist Jonah Furman brought to mind early (read: good) Billy Corgan, which I’m not sure he will appreciate. But I think he’ll appreciate this: I couldn’t stop laughing because then I kept thinking about Marilyn Manson telling Billy Corgan that he looked like Charlie Brown.
Opening with “Theme from Krill,” the Boston trio has a knack for rhythm and melody that burrows into your brain. The dreamy bleakness of “Purity of Heart.” The discordant garage rock and hiccupping guitar and warbly Scooter-ness of “Foot.” Krill’s sound is a good, comfy noise that keeps you wiggling and all that good stuff. Be sure to catch the band at Boston Calling.
Years & Years at Royale Boston
During winter storm Juno, UK electro pop group Years & Years were forced to cancel the first show of their two-night stint in New York City back in January. After the snow finally melted, they made the rounds again this past March, playing several shows in California, South by Southwest before finally landing in Boston.
Due to popular demand, the show was moved from The Sinclair to the Royale in downtown’s Theater District.
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