Memories from Music Midtown

Staff Writer: Ashlyn Richardson

On Day One of Music Midtown, I ventured into Piedmont Park with the hopes of being front row for Drake’s performance, but my hope was overcome with the sense that the experience I was about to have would present itself as an irreplaceable memory regardless of the front row experience I may or may not have during Champagne Papi’s show.

By the time the clock ticked to 8 pm, I had slithered my way to the second row. Drake was nearly an hour away and I had managed to finesse my way to the second row of people. I was ready. I was determined to make my five-hour wait worth the effort. Then, the pushing began.

Suddenly, I was swallowed in the bodies around me. The sea of thousands came rushing towards the front in such a way that the body next to mine became mine and the possibility of breath was slim to none. People were dropping like the flies. The claustrophobia became too much for some which left room for those who could withstand it. Cynical, I know, but reality.

As the clock struck 9:35, the sweet sound of hip-hop flooded the night sky and out came Drake himself. The man I had been waiting for. With fire, smoke, intense lighting, and iconic dance moves, the rapper presented himself in a way so unique that no other concert in my lifetime could outrank it. From his new age “Hotline Bling” to his classic hits like “Over” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” the crowd knew every word. The park was immersed in the lyrical genius that is Drizzy and became one.

Drake's performance

Drake’s performance

A familial daze came over the crowd as Drake spouted the six-god anthems he created. With the closing of his set, an incredible bang was heard as the sky filled with golden lights. Yes, the man set off fireworks. Red, gold and white flames sent themselves bursting into the air while the crowd begged for an encore. And what did Drake give us? An encore. Of course. Because as he stated, “Atlanta is one of my favorite cities. Y’all really show your love,” so why not?

The man did not disappoint. The experience was worth immersing myself in the crowd, waiting at the Electric Ballroom stage for five hours, and putting up with intoxicated girls behind me. From immersing myself in the people around me, learning names, gaining social media followers, making friendships I filled the time between hearing the touching love songs of the Irish band Kodaline, and the sultry blues-pop sounds of Hozier.

Hozier performing

Hozier performing

While I was not full of anticipation for either act as I was for Drake’s, Hozier created a feeling of love and family as he soaked through his denim shirt. The man was much more beautiful than I had expected and made my stay worthwhile. Day One was full of tasteful music, anticipation, and memories worth rekindling.

Writer Ashlyn Richardson

Writer Ashlyn Richardson

Day Two was a planned day of recuperation. It began with the colorful food trucks that scattered the pavement track around the park. With a meal of fried onions drenched with spicy aioli and a black bean burger, I was prepared to wander my day through the park while occasionally dropping in to see small indie acts and ending the day at Sam Smith.

As I strolled through the artisans booths full of overpriced “handmade” rings and tie dye t-shirts I couldn’t help but wonder what Sam Smith would perform. The thought kept itself present in my mind even as I bought opal rings, head banged with a member of Chick-Fil-A corporate at Catfish and the Bottlemen, met students from UNC Chapel Hill at Run the Jewels, and danced with my best friend to “Riptide” at Vance Joy’s set.

music 3

I had heard many rumors about Sam Smith’s set. There were swirling voices talking about the appearance of Justin Bieber at Sam Smith’s set since he lived in Atlanta. Unfortunately, the Biebs did not make an appearance, but rather, Sam Smith delivered a well-executed, soulful performance of some of his popular songs such as “Latch” and some of his more personal songs off his album. He also delivered a cover of Ariana Grande’s “One Less Problem” to top off the fun feeling of the night.

Although Sam Smith’s set did not end with quite as much of a bang as Drake’s, the show was the perfect ending to an unforgettable Midtown experience. Although I missed classic acts such as Elton John, Van Halen, and the one, the only, Billy Idol, the memories made at Music Midtown will last a lifetime.

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