Music Midtown is the time of year when thousands of music lovers swarm Piedmont Park in Atlanta for a weekend full of music from today’s most popular artists. This year, the festival showcased artists from all the likes — Lizzo, Panic! At the Disco, you name it, they were probably there. Here’s a recap of the good, the bad and the weird at this year’s festival.
Banks was one of the first performers of the weekend. The singer/songwriter is known for her confidence, fierce dance moves and electronic yet soulful beats. Her third album -- “III” -- was released this summer, just in time for the festival. In between songs, she expressed gratitude to the crowd for being her first festival audience in years, and her performance reaffirmed her appreciation from start to finish. Her set list included the old classics that kick started her career such as “Begging for Thread” and new hits like “Gimme.” One of my favorite things about Banks is her stage performance. Her dancing is graceful, almost aerial-like; Banks and her backup dancers never miss a beat. Her set was a great start to the festival.
I have to say, initially, I did not have high hopes for Lizzo’s performance. I had never truly listened to her music and the only song I was familiar with was “Truth Hurts,” the most oversung, overheard song of the year. My judgement turned out to be completely wrong. Her performance began and ended on the same note: high intensity, engaging and just plain fun. Her church-turned-pop-turned-hip hop sound entices fans from all walks of life. In between songs, her interaction with fans felt like casual conversation with your best friends. My favorite part of her performance was the running theme of girl power, self-love and confidence. The crowd loved her, and to my surprise, so did I; Lizzo was the best performer I saw all weekend. Even though I still wish the music world would pick another song other than “Truth Hurts” to ruin by constant overplay, I will definitely be listening to — and enjoying —her full discography.
When I think of the music 15-year-old me would listen to, I think of Bad Suns, so it is safe to say I was extremely excited for this performance. Bad Suns is an alternative rock band whose music can be categorized with Young the Giant and Local Natives. Their fun, upbeat sound almost made me nostalgic for high school. The band mostly played music from their newest album, “Mystic Truth,” which was released in March of this year. Although I am not up to date with their new tracks, it was still an enjoyable experience. They closed the set with my all time favorite Bad Sun’s song, “Cardiac Arrest.” No one seemed to mind the unbearable heat, which is a sign of a truly phenomenal show.
Panic! At the Disco
Another band from my past, Panic! At the Disco has an iconic repertoire of music that the middle schooler inside of me could not wait to hear live. The pop rock band headlined day one of the festival. I have never seen such a large, diverse crowd. There were men in their 40’s, kids in their teens and children who were out way past their betimes. I personally haven’t listened to any of their music released post middle school, but lead singer Brandon Urie’s infectious stage presence made every song seem familiar. Unfortunately, I no longer have the vibrancy of my middle school days, so I did not have the energy to make it to the end of the hour and a half set to hear “I Write Sins not Tragedies,” but I did get to fulfill my childhood dreams while jamming out to “Nine in the Afternoon.”
I have to start by saying that I am not the biggest Cardi B fan. Her songs are catchy, don’t get me wrong, but I have never been one to personally seek out her music like the thousands of fans who turned out for her performance. Although I spent more time people-watching than engaging in her performance, I did find her setlist interesting; she performed many songs that she features on, but not many of her own. Cardi B pleased the crowd with songs such as “Girls Like You” and “Finesse,” but Adam Levine and Bruno Mars were nowhere to be found. Despite being relatively new to the music world, her discography is pretty vast: one album, two mixtapes and numerous singles, so I expected to hear more of her own content. I didn’t quite enjoy her solo songs, but I did enjoy the ghostly Levine and Mars cameos.
Billie Eilish was one of day two’s headliners and one of my most anticipated performances. Her setlist encompassed songs from her debut album, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” and classics such as “Ocean Eyes.” It seemed like all festival goers migrated to see her perform. As her set was ending, the sun set over the park and she slowed it down by performing “When The Party’s Over.” The atmosphere during that performance was every concert-lover’s dream.
Two days of music sounds like a dream. Fun, friends and good tunes — what’s not to love? In reality, the heat is unbearable, the crowds are overwhelming and the food is overpriced. So why do people, including me, continue to attend these festivals year after year despite all we endure? There is something so special about seeing your favorite artists, live and in the flesh with thousands of sweaty, exhausted, but happy music lovers that makes the entire experience worth while.