Vendors set up beer tents at Piedmont Park for Music Midtown 2011.
ATLANTA -- Music Midtown is back. But this weekend, it faces some of the same challenges that caused it to stutter and fail six years ago. Is Music Midtown 2011 a rebirth or a one-hit wonder?
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The sounds of hammers and horns echoed across Piedmont Park Friday afternoon. The heart of Midtown prepared to pick up the festival beat after a hiatus.
"I've always told everyone, this is the first year of Music Midtown, not the thirteenth," Live Nation CEO and Music Midtown rganizer Peter Conlon said. "Times have changed. It's been six years, let's reinvent it." His eyes are firmly set on the future.
But there are challenges.
Conlon said weather is the biggest factor on turnout, and the one thing completely beyond his control. Music Midtown was plagued by terrible weather its last few years. 11Alive Meterologist Chris Holcomb said they're in better luck this year: "Saturday looks like a day with party cloudy skies and high temperatures in the lower 80s. And 80 degrees is where we're supposed to be this time of year. So, this is a typical weekend in September."
In 2005, the price skyrocketed from $45 to $75. Many fans blamed the higher price for the lag in sales. This year, it's one day and two stages for $55. 11Alive Facebook Friend Leigh Ann Burch writes: "It was cheaper with more bands a loooong time ago". And Tracy Rice adds the tickets are really $71.50 after fees. Live Nation declined to tell us exactly how many tickets have been sold, but say they met their pre-sale goal and expect to sell just as many at the gate.
This year's line-up includes ten bands. Cold Play is the headliner with a host of others (many local), some more established than others. 11Alive Facebook friend Katie Templeton writes, "I went every year when it was here before... There's only one band I've heard of before."
But Ivy Leader, who won tickets to Music Midtown, says she and her daughter both love Cage the Elephant. "We listen to their music together in the car," she said. "It's hard to find bands today that we both agree on, especially that aren't from my past like the Rolling Stones. She's turned me on to a lot of new music."
Music Midtown has been held at a variety of locations. This year: Piedmont Park.
Both stages are in the meadow. Food trucks and vendors line the sidewalks. The bowl-shape allows for prime views for the waiting bands and VIP tents.
In the past, organizers faulted media hype about massive traffic congestion as one reason ticket sales slumped. This year, parking at Piedmont is very limited. Signs along the connector all week warned "NO parking at venue. Take MARTA." Atlanta Police also sent out a press release Friday afternoon warning drivers their cars will be ticketed and towed if they illegally park in nearby neighborhoods. MARTA is running extra trains until 1 AM Sunday.
Back to Stay?
Bands are known for their goodbye tours, and then their return tours. The best are re-born again and again.
So, the question: Is the 2011 Music Midtown a re-birth or a one-hit wonder? Will it be back? Peter Conlon said you'll decide. "I hope so," he said. "I think the people actually decide that if they all come. It's really up to the people of Atlanta."