Returning in 2011 after a 6-year absence, Music Midtown has grown to become Atlanta’s largest musical event. Previously featuring bands like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and Coldplay, the festival has continued to expand it’s size and popularity, now spanning two days on 3 stages.
On Day 1, gates opened at 4pm for early birds to check out the festival grounds which included food and craft beer trucks, a ferris wheel and a couple of merchandise tents. Glide photographer and writer Barbara Sheridan covered the event this year.
ATL’s Southern-rock kings Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ kicked things off on the Electric Ballroom Stage, the largest stage at Music Midtown. The band opened with their most popular song “Fly Me Courageous” as the first concert goers began to fill in the crowd.
As Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ finished their set, The DJ and band for Atlanta’s 2 Chainz hyped up the already anxious crowd next door at the Great Southeastern Music Hall Stage. Wearing – you guessed it – two chains, the local rap star opened with “Mercy” and got the crowd jumping with songs like “I Luv Dem Strippers” “Fed Watching” and “Birthday Song.” The double-chained one drew a respectable crowd for such an early act and reminded them more than once that his sophomore album, B.O.A.T.S.II: Me Time, had just been released.
Next up on the Main Stage was Phoenix, the four man band from France. Singer Thomas Mars and the band started off with the song “Entertainment” followed up by “Lasso” while fans broke out the beach balls. They played their current single “Trying to be Cool” off their latest album Bankrupt!. Of course “Lisztomania” and the advertising anthem of 2009 “1901” were included in their set.
Jane’s Addiction and Cake took the second and third stages at the same time, causing fans to choose their favorite between the two. Both bands drew respectable crowds for their 7:30pm shows, as almost everyone who was coming to night one of Music Midtown had now arrived.
Jane’s Addiction still command attention. Led by the ageless duo of Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro, the band started their set with “Underground”. While lights flashed, two women with flowing skirts swung from cables, filling both ends of the stage. Farrell was reflective during their set, recalling playing in Atlanta many times before and being grateful for the fans and this night. Farrell asked if anyone in the crowd spoke spanish before launching into their hit “Stop!” and closed their show with the steel drum driven classic sing-along “Jane Says.”
Headliners Journey took the stage with current frontman Arnel Pineda, who they found on Youtube in 2007. They played nostalgic hit after hit for almost two hours. They started with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and then jumped right into “Any Way You Want It.” Guitarist Neal Schon did a solo of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Pineda is not former front man Steve Perry, but he is the closet thing going and he poured genuine emotion into the songs. He was feeling every word as he sang all of the hits and the packed crowd ate up every word. The highlight was the ever popular “Don’t Stop Believin”’ followed by the encore of “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”