BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
(This story was originally posted at 10 a.m. June 20, 2017.)
A global pop superstar, an Atlanta rap luminary, a decorated British folk-rock collective and a ‘90s-era pop-punk favorite will headline Music Midtown 2017.
The quartet of Bruno Mars, Future, Mumford & Sons and Blink-182 top the lineup of nearly three dozen acts, which will inhabit Piedmont Park Sept. 16-17.
Joining the roster for Atlanta’s biggest music festival: Wiz Khalifa; Weezer; Big Sean; HAIM; Young the Giant; Bastille; Two Door Cinema Club; Tove Lo; Russ; Milky Chance; Collective Soul; Rag’n’Bone Man; Oh Wonder; The Strumbellas; Judah & The Lion; The Naked and Famous; Zara Larsson; Dua Lipa; BROODS; PVRIS; Vintage Trouble; Lizzo; Joywave; Bibi Bourelly; COIN; AJR; Hiss Golden Messenger; Circa Waves; Daye Jack; and Midnight Larks.
In keeping with last year’s more youthful bent – which featured headliners Twenty One Pilots and Deadmau5 – the all-ages Music Midtown is again being directed primarily at an 18-34 demographic and will retain its four-stage setup.
Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, which produces Music Midtown, said in an interview at his Buckhead office last week that the tweak in 2016 proved successful. According to Billboard, nearly 130,000 people attended last year’s two-day event, with gross ticket sales of more than $8.6 million.
“It’s not that the adults won’t come – they just don’t necessarily want to be around a lot of young people,” Conlon said. “You can’t mix genres. We tried to do that, but we know our market.”
Conlon estimates that the 2017 installment of the festival, which returned in 2011 after a five-year hiatus, will cost between $9 and $10 million.
“This is the most we’ve ever spent on talent,” he said of the robust lineup.
Tickets for Music Midtown will go on sale at 10 a.m. June 23 in the forms of two-day general admission ($135), two-day VIP ($600) and two-day Super VIP ($1,750). Visit www.musicmidtown.com to purchase and for a breakdown of what each ticket level includes. As in past years, prices will increase closer to the event.
A pre-sale will take place for those who sign up for the Music Midtown E-List (at www.musicmidtown.com/connect/) from 10 a.m. June 20 through 10 p.m. June 22.
While big names attract major crowds – a study from The Research Center in Nashville estimated that the 2014 installment of Music Midtown generated about $50 million for the Atlanta-area economy – there is always an effort to include Atlanta artists.
Future, who recently broke numerous chart records and in May packed Lakewood Amphitheatre, is a source of hometown pride, while hip-hop artist Daye Jack and eclectic rockers Midnight Larks will be exposed to major crowds.
Atlanta natives Collective Soul played the second-ever Music Midtown in 1995 and again in 2000, but this year’s appearance will mark their debut since the festival landed at Piedmont Park.
Band frontman Ed Roland said being asked to play is a homecoming, and also presents a sense of accomplishment.
“It’s an honor, man,” he said last week from the West Coast, where Collective Soul was touring. “If you think about it, growing up in Atlanta and still being asked to play (Music Midtown) almost 23 years later? We don’t take that for granted. It’s always nice to come back and, for lack of a better term, kind of show off our body of work. After 23 years we’re releasing our 10th record (“Blood,” in late summer or early fall). We feel like we won the lottery.”
Conlon, meanwhile, invoked the memory of his longtime business partner and friend, the deceased Alex Cooley, when asked what he’s looking forward to at Music Midtown 2017.
“I think Bruno will be fun,” he said. “But I like to watch the audience. Alex loved watching the audience and I learned that from him. I like to see the makeup of it – it shows you who is coming and having a good time.”