Music Midtown 2005, The End Of An Era

by terri sapp

Fabulous Photos by Leah Yetter

© Concert Sutra, All rights reserved


click photos for Sunday photo gallery

There’s no secret that some of my favorite events of the year happen on the weekend of Music Midtown every year.  A weekend full of so many different types of artists all coming together in the middle of the City of Atlanta to put up their best effort to draw the biggest crowd between six stages.  This year, hats off to 99x, the local “Everything Alternative” Radio Station, who managed to book the most impressive line up on one stage that I have ever experienced.

Out of all of the bands that I was overjoyed to see, I have to say that the most unexpected delight of the weekend was the grand finale headliner on the 99x stage, DEVO!  Even though it had been nearly 20 years since DEVO had played Atlanta, you wouldn’t have known it from the warm welcome they got from all the happy “spuds” and future “spuds” on Sunday evening.  The DEVO energy dome hats must have been working to keep the rain away, because Sunday ended up being the only dry day of the festival.  DEVO packed a high-energy punch with or without “flower pot” energy dome hats and radiation suits.  Their message is as politically charged as ever and complete with social commentary and fun.  Their set list was a balanced mix of their more popular songs and rarities.  We got to hear “That’s Good,” “Girl U Want,” “Whip It,” “Satisfaction,” (Rolling Stones cover) “Uncontrollable Urge,” “Mongoloid,” “Blockhead,” “Jocko Homo,” “Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA,” “Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy,” “Gates of Steel,” Encore:  “Freedom of Choice,” and “Beautiful World” with a special appearance by Booji Boy.  Booji Boy seems to be sort of the social voice of DEVO, with his stories and lessons.  My favorite ever Booji Boy moment was his role in the 1982 Neil Young movie, Human Highway.

The White Stripes

click photos for Friday photo gallery

Another 99x headliner, The White Stripes, made quite an impression on the loyal fans, who stayed in the rain to hear the set that this awesome twosome picked out for us.  Their set included many hits from White Blood Cells, Elephant, and their latest release, Get Behind Me Satan.  Some highlights were “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,”  “Sick of Love” (Bob Dylan cover), “The Hardest Button to Button,” “I Just Don’t What to do With Myself,” “Blue Orchid,” and “Seven Nation Army.”  The White Stripes are a brother/sister team with several drums, guitars, keys, and xylophone.  Their sound is so powerful to just have two members in the band.  Meg White’s drums are a force all their own.  Jack White’s soulful voice blends just right with his multi-genre guitar.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts rocked the 96 Rock stage with vigor of a twenty-something with an attitude.  She is in better shape than ever, and doesn’t show a day over twenty-five.  Her energy was infectious, and her charisma with the audience proved the right formula for a hot performance on a hot summer day.  She played favorites like “Bad Reputation,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me?,” “Cherry Bomb,” “Crimson and Clover,” and “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” as well as some of her new songs.  Overall, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts rock as hard as ever! 

Joan Jett

click photos for Sunday photo gallery

The Lemonheads were another cool 99x group I haven’t heard out of in a while.  They definitely pleased with their classic hits like, “Into Your Arms,” and “It’s a Shame About Ray.” (for sure)  I was glad to have seen Evan Dando’s foxy haircut, and heard him sing and play guitar.  The Lemonheads go right along with the early 90’s crew 99x had going on this year.

On the 96 Rock stage Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers brought it with many of the songs you would want to hear them play.  “Listen To Her Heart,” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels” were two that we were able to catch before having to run off to catch another of the many worthwhile performances this year at Music Midtown.  Believe it or not, there was even a bit of crowd surfing going on in the Tom Petty crowd.  Luckily for the masses of people gathered to witness Tom Petty’s bedroom eyed, quirky smiled show, this year, the festival heads laid down some sort of flooring to help prevent massive mud piles. 

Every since The Velvet Underground album, folks have looked to Lou Reed, another act at this year’s Music Midtown, for innovative lyrics and Rock ‘n’ Roll music.  Reed also threatened “to put you in therapy” in his spirited 96 Rock stage show.  Even though Reed is one of the “fathers” of rock, he has aged well, and is sexy as ever!

Over at the Jermaine Dupri stage, Ciara shock down the house with her booty skills and her dancers.  My jaw was dragging the floor when her crew got down.  Many gems from her debut album, Goodies, were all welcome.  “Pick up the Phone” was kind of mellow, but allowed for her voice to shine.  “Oh” was also a very laid back beat with a sexy feel, which was really good for the dancers to strut their stuff!  Very impressive group of movers and shakers.  On the other hand, “One, Two Step” was CRUNK.  She was not even playing around, and this girl can go all the way down to the floor.  I would never want to be up against Ciara in a Limbo contest.  She must have felt extremely comfortable at this hometown show, because her voice was on point along with her pretty vigorous dancing.  I was impressed with her ability to hold it together vocally and still get down like nobody’s business.

Tom Petty

click photos for Saturday photo gallery

Another surprise on this year’s Jermaine Dupri stage was Kanye West showing up to play with Common.  Kanye was able to perform some of his songs, like “All Falls Down,” and “Jesus Walks,” along with a little of his newer work including, “Gold Digger,” which was hilarious.  Of course, Common joined Kanye for a bit, then took over with some of his own flavor.  “Go!,” and “The Corner” were a couple of the songs we heard from Common’s newest album.  Then, he picked out a girl from the audience, and actually played a tease of R. Kelly’s “Bump and Grind” (I was so jealous) and gave her a little lap dance type deal before serenading her with his beauty on “Come Closer.”  Common says he has a banana for all the Georgia Peaches, and I saw very many Peaches ready for a snack!  Kanye West mixing it up with Common is definitely a sight for any eyes.  They have great chemistry together and come together nicely for a unique hip-hop experience.  Backing these guys up were a DJ, some Keyboards, and a Drummer.  Having live musicians always adds to the performance, especially in hip-hop.

An old school act that graced the Jermaine Dupri stage was Doug E. Fresh.  Slick Rick was around as well, but did not come right out as Doug E. Fresh did.  Slick Rick was to be the second half of the segment.  Doug E. Fresh had a wonderful DJ spinning many jams from back in the day.  During the Doug E. Fresh part of the show, I had the sudden urge to go boogey down at my local skating rink.


click photos for Friday photo gallery

Music Midtown 2005 had the best line up I have ever seen.  However, the crowds were overall the smallest I have been in for Music Midtown.  The competing festivals, such as the Vibe Musicfest across town at the Georgia Dome, and the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, which were all happening at the same time, obviously effected the numbers at Music Midtown 2005.  The unpredictably nasty weather also contributed to the lighter crowd.  For those of us who braved the weather, there was a treat waiting behind every corner.  The 2005 line up for Music Midtown proved, however, to be quite a competitor for the rest of those fests vying for attendees.

Below are some fun facts about this festival of festivals provided by the folks at Music Midtown:

  • It takes approximately 10,500 hours to build all of the stages, platforms and gateways for the Music Midtown complex.  That’s about 5 years of work for 1 person.
  • 20,000 feet of fencing is used throughout the 40-acre Music Midtown complex, which is equivalent to the length of approximately 66 football fields or 3.8 miles.
  • Approximately 92.5 tons of ice is used over the course of the weekend, which equals the weight of almost 818 pandas from the Atlanta Zoo.
  • It takes approximately 3500 hours of labor just to load in sound equipment, lights and bands for the festival.  Approximately 45 minutes of labor : 1 minute of music.
  • More than 1,000 pages of information including applications, plans and calculations are turned into the City of Atlanta to procure the Music Midtown permit each year.  “War and Peace?” –how’s about just a festival!
  • Moe’s rolled out approximately 1900 burritos last year, each measuring about 6 inches long.  If placed end to end, the burritos would measure close to 950 feet!  That’s more than twice the distance from home plate to the center field will at Turner Field (a long way).  Together, the burritos weighed 7.5 tons, or roughly an adult elephant!
  • 7,200 pounds of fertilization is used to rehabilitate the parks in the Music Midtown complex, which is equivalent to the weight of 33.5 Michael Vicks, the 215 lb acclaimed Quarter Back for the Atlanta Falcons.
  • The amount of electricity used at Music Midtown would have the ability to power Macon, Georgia for six months.
  • 9,600 feet of bike rack is used by Music Midtown each year just for street closings and entry lanes.  You could park approximately 30,720 bikes with that amount of bike rack.
  • The estimated economic impact Music Midtown has on Atlanta equals an estimated $23.5 million in just three days.
  • The Music Midtown Festival generates a 50% higher demand at Marriott hotels over the weekend.
  • News coverage from the 2004 Music Midtown Festival reached people all over the world including Turkey, Ireland, Spain, Russia, England and more.

I highly recommend carefully looking over Leah’s pictures of Lou Reed, Ciara, and The White Stripes from Friday night here: photos of Common and Kanye West, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Pixies from Saturday night here: and the photos of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Doug E. Fresh, The Lemonheads, and DEVO from Sunday here:  For a closer look at the Pixies’ set from Saturday night, check out this month’s “Concert Sutra.”  Evident in the photos, Music Midtown this year brought one of the most powerful lineups yet.  I, for one, am already looking forward to Music Midtown 2006!  I have felt from the first time I attended this festival, and still feel, that no matter who is set to play, and no matter the weather (except when you throw in thousands of dollars worth of equipment), Music Midtown is a blast…a must…and I can’t imagine my year without it.