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Music Midtown 2013:
Party in the Park
by Kristina Silva
Atlanta's most epic music festival, Music Midtown 2013, is back again boasting a lineup that may be even better than last year. Heavy hitters like Jane's Addiction, Weezer, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Journey are among the bands added to the bill for another sold-out year.

Two days, three stages and more than 20 bands draw over 20,000 music lovers every September as the musical marathon engulfs Piedmont Park in the heart of Atlanta's Midtown. Amongst the jutting skyscrapers on Peachtree legendary sounds from days gone by are alive and well, and contending with some of music's hottest up-and-coming acts.

Day 1 - Friday September 20th:

Music Midtown kicked off with the sounds of the South as North Mississippi Allstars and Drivin' N Cryin' boldly opened for the sold out two-day concert. Imagine the poor souls stuck in rush hour traffic on a beautiful Friday afternoon thinking, "Is that ‘Straight to Hell' I hear?" Oh the irony!

By 5:15 Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz hit the stage with an onslaught of musicians in tow. The grounds were teaming with concert-goers ready get the party started and 2 Chainz was on board with hits like "5 Blunts" and "Bees in the Trap" (sans Nicki Minaj). Even the beer guy got into it.

Getting the full spectrum of the festival, I ventured to the other side of the park to check out The Mowgli's. The stage felt worlds away from the rest of the happenings with the hippy pop band from southern California singing songs of love in front of a backdrop of puffy clouds and mountain tops.

And then Phoenix pumped their poppy synth rock through the giant amps with their hit "1901." Surprisingly, Phoenix has a way of performing dance hall numbers like "Lisztomania" and then turning into a French jam band with "Love Like a Sunset." The band has been on fire since 2009, grabbing a Grammy for their debut album in 2010 and releasing their sophomore album this year.

But who wasn't excited to see Jane's Addiction strut their stuff? It's been 25 years since their debut album "Nothing Shocking," but these musical vets still got that spark. A purple mist unveiled Ferrell and Navarro as true rock eternals, never aging and never slowing down. Navarro, with his signature shirt of skin and ink, cut right into "Underground." Ferrell kissed our ears with his iconic vocals, which turned into playful biting with "Just Because." Most impressively, Ferrell stopped to reflect on the raw feeling he got the first time Jane's Addiction played Atlanta many years ago. That's right; Atlanta leaves its mark.

And speaking of leaving a mark, Journey brought down the house with their legendary presence. I couldn't believe it when I first saw the audition tape of Arnel Pineda on YouTube. But seeing the lithe Pilipino belt out those rock ballads that night had me slack-jaw. Young and old, everyone echoed the household lyrics to "Separate Ways" and "Anyway You Want It." And as Day One of Music Midtown came to a close, Pineda's voice sailed through the meadow and beyond through "Open Arms."

Day 2 - Soggy Saturday:

When your ticket says "rain or shine," they aren't kidding. By the time the gates opened on Day Two of Music Midtown, the rain was a steady blanket over Piedmont Park. It was gross, it was muddy and it only got worse throughout the day. California natives The Neighbourhood seemed to struggle with the rain, while Reignwolf (aptly named) relished every drop. The Black Lips took the brunt of the unseasonable monsoon as sheets of rain forced crew members to squeegee the stage before they could start. But they brought it back with a Tomahawk Chop chant and an enthusiastic, but soggy, set.

With nearly 20 years of touring experience, Weezer didn't skip a beat as Rivers and crew chugged along with "My Name is Jonas" and "Say It Aint So" through the sheeting rain. Rivers even remarked that he was familiar with Georgia, as his grandparents live in Peachtree City. He eased the crowd into "Island in the Sun" and everything was good again. Once the Yeah Yeah Yeah's took to the stage, most of the crowd had embraced the rain as large swaths of the meadow were now slip-n-slides. But perhaps Karen O was our savior. The rain stopped as she belted out "Mosquito" and "Heads Will Roll." She even stopped to say, "Look at the f**king sky, guys." Behind us, the Atlanta skyline was ablaze as the sun set behind the tall buildings. It was magnificent.

But the most epic part of the night was still to come. Under the cover of darkness, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were a torrent of sound and true rock legends. All eyes were on Anthony, with Flea always competing for attention. Kiedis classed it up with a trench coat with tails and ripped right into "Californication." The highlights of their set included a festival-wide chorus of "Under the Bridge" that gave me chills and sent Music Midtown 2013 soaring into the books as an event of a lifetime. Not a soul was silent through their show-stopping hit "Give It Away" and I was in complete awe of what I had witnessed.

While the sweet sounds of Music Midtown are a culmination of musical epiphanies leaving an indelible mark on Atlanta's music scene, it's really the people that make festivals so unforgettable. As a whole, the entire two-day festival went off without a hitch. With over 20 bands bringing music lovers of all ages together, I was impressed with the whole experience. We can only imagine what next year will bring!

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