Music in Midtown


A voice, a microphone and hands on a musical instrument are the ways good music should always sound.  Live performances are the truest indication of musical success.  There can be no hiding behind thousand-dollar-studio equipment when you take the stage, with your fans at your feet.  Everything must be laid out.

Even the vagabonds playing their guitar or saxophone on the street corner will capture the crowded street’s attention more effectively than someone on a soapbox with a megaphone.  Lyricism is a knife that can cut through the fog of our own realities.  It is this soulful connection with music that draws thousands out to music festivals like Bonnaroo, Woodstock and Music in Midtown.  The latter is Georgia’s recently returned, scaled-down music festival that originated in 1994.  During it’s heyday, the festival spanned three-days, six stages and more than 300,000 people attended.

After taking a hiatus in 2006, it has returned this year as a one-day, two stage event.  Despite the smaller venue, headliner Coldplay drew out enough people to completely cover the green space in the 189-acred Piedmont Park.

As Vanessa Williams would sing, “Save the Best for Last,” so did the organizers of Music in Midtown.  I overheard someone describing how awesome Coldplay was because they had nine bands open for them.  That’s right, count it:

I came for half the day and saw Young the Giant, The Black Keys, Cage the Elephant and Coldplay.  While I can’t speak for the first six bands that performed, the last half of the day was probably the most profitable and popular half to attend.

Young the Giant, an American rock band that started in 2004, surprised me with their smooth sound.  Lead singer Sameer Gadhia has definitely made me a fan of the band’s indie rock sound.  My favorite song they played was “My Body.”

The Black Keys, also an American alternative rock band, is well known for only having two members.  Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney joined musical forces in 2001 in Akron, Ohio winning fans over with their raw, industrial sound.  “Howlin’ for You” is one of their more recognizable songs, which hit airwaves in 2010

Landing a little closer to Georgia is Cage the Elephant, which originated in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  As a relatively new rock band that banded together in the middle of 2006, they’ve gained fame quickly both in the U.S. and U.K. circuits.  They’re most known for “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” and “In One Ear”.

Here is an excerpt from the Coldplay concert:

The last band of the night needs little background context, mostly because I fear I’d insult your intelligence.  Coldplay formed in 1996 as a U.K. sensation that exported itself worldwide.  While you may or may not be a fan, when the music quality of a live performance goes above and beyond the CD/Radio version, the only thing you can feel is respect.  The laser show and fireworks only added to the crowd’s excitement, but the star of the night remained the music.  Lead singer Chris Martin’s acoustic tribute to R.E.M., a Georgia group that recently disbanded, and his encore song “Georgia on My Mind” wooed the crowd.

Do you remember the high school person who was charismatic and popular?  He or she had everything and everyone eating out of his or her hands.  That person is Coldplay in the music world.

Even the economic recession can’t keep the revelers coming out to support music that in turns support their souls.  As an economic driver to more business, Music in Midtown could not have chosen a better year to come back to Atlanta and the Deep South.  I hope it is here to stay.

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