by: Melissa Ruggieri Updated:
ATLANTA - If you’re planning to wait and buy your Music Midtown tickets on site, Peter Conlon has one word for you: Don’t.
Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, which is producing the two-day festival kicking off Friday at Piedmont Park, jokes that he still hears from disgruntled neighbors who tried to buy a day-of ticket at last year’s event, only to be turned away because a comfortable capacity had been reached.
“People got disappointed last year and (advance) sales are stronger this year,” Conlon said last week during a quick visit to the event site.
He wasn’t kidding. A week out from Music Midtown, general admission tickets for Saturday’s full day of music were already snapped up (VIP/Super VIP and limited two-day passes were still available).
The second night of the 2012 fest — headlined by Pearl Jam — drew more than 50,000 to the park before Conlon opted to halt ticket sales.
This year, veteran arena rockers Journey take top billing Friday and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will command the main stage as headliners Saturday. In between will be music from Weezer, Jane’s Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, Imagine Dragons, Phoenix, 2 Chainz, Tegan and Sara, Kendrick Lamar and 14 more acts (see box for the full lineup).
A week before the fest, as cranes lumbered down sidewalks with blocks of concrete and dozens of workers assembled hard plastic flooring atop the park’s grass, Conlon outstretched his arms to indicate where the three stages — an increase from two since Music Midtown returned in 2011 — will be set.
The primary pair of stages will reside in the Meadow — same locations as previous years, for experienced attendees — while the newest addition will be erected on Oak Hill, just west of the Meadow, near the festival entrance on 10th Street.
“The way they’ve configured the stages, you’ll be able to see both main stages from the Meadow and they’re not going to have acts simultaneously,” Conlon said.
As the thousands of workers required to set up, construct and produce Music Midtown finish up that Herculean process, here are 10 things for you to make note of if you’re heading to the park this weekend:
1. About those tickets. Get them at any Ticketmaster location, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. General admission prices are $50 for Friday or $110 for a two-day pass. General admission Saturday tickets are sold out. If you want to augment the experience, go VIP or Super VIP, which includes private entrances and bathrooms and food and drink (VIP) and the aforementioned plus valet parking, a premium viewing area and souvenir T-shirts and laminates for Super VIP. VIP tickets are $250 per day and Super VIP are $1,000 for two-day passes only.
Tickets will be available at the gate, but, as previously noted, don’t be surprised if they’re sold out by the time you arrive. On-site sales begin at 1 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday at event entrances. Will-call is located at the ticket booth at the corner of 10th Street and Charles Allen Drive.
2. With a lineup spotlighting alt-rock, classic rock, dreamy pop, R&B and rap, it’s not surprising that Atlanta has a few hometown heroes in the mix. Conlon has always sought to include locally based artists (Ludacris and T.I. filled the bill last year) and this year Drivin’ N Cryin’, 2 Chainz and the Black Lips carry the flag.
3. Last year’s ATM woes should be remedied with the switch to a new ATM company this year. As Conlon humorously reminded, “I went to get money (last year) at 11 a.m. on the Saturday and the machine was out (of cash). I hit the ceiling.” Take note: If you irritate the guy in charge, chances are you won’t get a repeat gig.
4. You know it’s a festival when some of the best news is regarding portable toilets. Though there were hundreds on site last year, most patrons followed the crowd and converged near a handful of restrooms. This year, more have been added — “even though I don’t think we needed them,” Conlon noted — and patrons should have an easier time finding the relief spots. “We didn’t do a great job educating people as to where they were, so we’re lighting them and putting more signage and will have people directing when one area gets more crowded,” Conlon said.
5. All smoking is prohibited. This is a city ordinance, not a ruling from the Midtown Music gods, so if you have a complaint, no need to direct it at the folks running the festival.
6. As usual, security will be plentiful. Conlon estimates about 400 people involved in security will be on site at any given time. Last year’s event produced seven “very minor” incidents, said Conlon, who praised Atlanta crowds for being some of the most polite in the nation.
7. The array of food vendors will include a few more food trucks than last year. Among the names you’ll see are Bhojanic, Williamson Brothers BBQ, Publik Draft House and Nectar Food Truck. Vegetarian and gluten-free options also will be available. One thing Conlon is already envisioning for the 2014 Music Midtown is a more diverse food selection involving local chefs and restaurants.
8. Music Midtown is wheelchair-accessible at the park entrances on 12th and 14th streets as well as the entrances at the Charles Allen Drive and Park Drive gates, and there are two viewing platforms for those with disabilities located at each stage.
9. The Music Midtown app is back and is free on both Android and Apple devices. Concertgoers can participate in contests, create schedules, check maps and festival news and stay connected on social media sites.
10. Answers to some random questions: Music Midtown is an all-ages event. No, you may not bring your pet unless it’s a service dog. Smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras are fine, but nothing with a detachable lens will be allowed. No chairs, coolers or outside alcohol will be allowed. You may bring one factory-sealed bottle of water or one empty reusable water bottle that can be filled for free at any of the hydration stations located throughout the festival grounds. Yes, you can leave and re-enter the festival, but only if you have your ticket scanned when exiting.
Friday, Sept. 20. Gates open at 4 p.m.
Electric Ballroom Stage:
4:30-5:15 p.m. Drivin’ N Cryin’
6:15-7:30 p.m. Phoenix
9-11 p.m. Journey
Great Southeast Music Hall Stage:
5:15-6:15 p.m. 2 Chainz
7:30-9 p.m. Jane’s Addiction
4:15-5 p.m. North Mississippi All Stars
5:45-6:45 p.m. Mowgli’s
7:30-9 p.m. Cake
Saturday, Sept. 21. Gates open at noon
1-1:45 p.m. the Neighbourhood
2:30-3:30 p.m. Weezer
4:30-5:30 p.m. Arctic Monkeys
7-8 p.m. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
9-11 p.m. Red Hot Chili Peppers
Great Southeast Music Hall:
1:45-2:30 p.m. Reignwolf
3:30-4:30 p.m. The Black Lips
5:45-7 p.m. Imagine Dragons
8-9 p.m. Queens of the Stone Age
12:45-1:30 p.m. Mona
2:15-3:15 p.m. Capital Cities
4-5 p.m. ZZ Ward
5:45-7 p.m. Tegan and Sara
7:45-9 p.m. Kendrick Lamar
There will be various street closures throughout the festival:
- Through 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, one lane on 10th Street from Charles Allen Drive to Piedmont Avenue (closest to Piedmont Park) will be closed.
- Beginning 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, the two westbound lanes (closest to Piedmont Park) will be closed.
- 10th Street between Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive will be closed from 9:30 a.m. Friday until 4 a.m. Monday, Sept. 23.
- 10th Street between Charles Allen Drive and Monroe Drive will be closed from all day Sunday, Sept. 22, until 4 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, for festival load-out.
MARTA: The nearest stations are Midtown and Arts Center. The last train leaves the station at 1 a.m.
Make sure to check the Music Scene blog throughout the weekend for complete coverage and follow us on Twitter at @ajc_music and @accessatlanta.com. And visit our Music Midtown page here.