This weekend Ian and I drove down to Atlanta (now only an hour and a half away!) for Music Midtown, a festival we attended last year and really enjoyed. Two of our friends from Murfreesboro met us in Chattanooga Friday morning and we caravaned down there together; my youngest sister Emily was supposed to come too but ended up having a scheduling conflict. Sadface.
Gates opened at 4 p.m. on Friday, and we made it into the park right around that time so we could buy some beer and get the lay of the land before CAKE came on at 7:30. We sat on the grass at the top of a hill and listened to 2 Chainz (who is just really awful) and then to Phoenix for a while before heading over to the newly added Roxy stage (last year there were only two stages) to see CAKE.
Sidenote: Last year this festival was perfect because they only had two stages and they alternated acts on each stage so you never had to miss anyone. You just walked back and forth between the two stages. This year, though, they added a third stage and acts were no longer staggered so you had to pick and choose who you wanted to see. And despite the third stage being all the way out in BFE, you could still hear music from the other stage that had an artist on at the time. So no matter where you were in the park, at any given moment, you heard the artist on the stage you were closest to but then you could also hear the other stage buzzing in your ear like an annoying bee.
And I get it, that’s what pretty much every other festival does these days, but some asshole decided to put CAKE and Jane’s Addiction on at the same goddamn time Friday. And despite what seemed like half of the entire Internet complaining about this scheduling snafu on the festival’s Facebook page leading up to the event, it was never changed. I mean, what the hell is social media good for if it can’t help me see both CAKE and Jane’s Addiction at a festival?!
I was really torn because these two bands were two thirds of who I was most excited about seeing over the course of the entire fest, but CAKE has been one of my favorite bands for at least 15 years and I’ve never gotten to see them live before. So I was determined to see them, and everyone else with me decided that’s who they wanted to watch, too.
Holy shit it was a great show. It really was. My friend Alex convinced us to stand up front fairly close to the stage, and though usually I don’t like the crush of the crowd, this time it was worth it. Lead singer John McCrea sounded amazing and was very interactive with the crowd—something I love at live shows. And played almost every song I wanted to hear—even Love You Madly, during which I made Ian hold my hands and dance with me. Corny, sure, but we never do anything romantic so I’m giving myself a pass here.
There were the usual assholes ignoring festival etiquette and trying to push their way past us halfway through the show, but Alex and I were having none of it. The first offenders were a group of men who looked to be in their 40s; we shamed all but one of them into moving back behind us where they had started. Then a couple of hipster kids tried to shove me out of the way so they could stand in front of us, but they were short and I am tall (and surprisingly good at planting myself on the ground like a block of cement) so that didn’t happen. Alex and I stuck our elbows out toward each other and formed a sort of dickbag-denying gate that nobody was allowed through unless they were just passing by. It worked pretty well, and by the end of the show we had even made friends with the lone holdout from the earlier group of old guys.
I found the large number of kids jumping around and singing along with “Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle” without a single hint of irony quite amusing, too. As I did the people who watched the show through smartphones they held in front of their faces taking pictures while McCrea gave a big speech about how we need to just enjoy moments as moments, reassuring us that things still happened even if we didn’t post about them online as they were happening. Wait, does that make me an asshole for blogging about my experience? I kept my iPhone in my backpack for the entire show, so that should redeem me at least a little bit.
The last show of the night was Journey, but we stuck to the very back since the crowd was huge (and Ian and I saw Journey last year anyway). They were good, but since none of us are huge Journey fans we took off a bit early to beat the rush of people leaving the festival right when it ended at 11 p.m.
Speaking of assholes, as we were walking up a hill toward the exit Alex accidentally stepped on someone who was sitting down but didn’t realize it. Ian leaned down to apologize on Alex’s behalf, and the guy started yelling at him. Ian kept walking, but as I passed the guy he yelled after them, “I WILL KILL YOU! I WILL KILL EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU!!!”
I’m not really sure why I didn’t just let it go, but I leaned down and asked him if he was serious. He started yelling in my face about killing all of us again, and I very calmly said, “Ok, well he works for the Highway Patrol.” The girl with him immediately started hitting him and telling him to shut up, and he got this dumb look on his face and started sputtering apologies. I told him to be careful who he yells death threats at in the future and walked away.
Sure, it was a lie—he hasn’t worked for the Highway Patrol for two months now. And he wasn’t a cop when he did work for them. I’m not really sure why I said anything except that he was threatening my husband and friends and my first instinct was to kick him in the head. This was what my brain came up with as an alternative. But it seemed to scare the shit out of the kid, and maybe he’ll think twice before he tells any more strangers that he’s going to kill them. It seems like there could be pretty bad consequences for doing that.
I guess people were just feeling saucy that night, because as we were in the slow crush of people leaving the gates in a cattle-like formation, I heard someone behind me yell, “Hey bitch! Move! Move bitch!” I turned around and saw a girl being supported by two friends, and asked if she was talking to me. She immediately started apologizing, and her friends apologized as well. They unnecessarily explained that she was very drunk, and added that it was her first concert. I told her to be sure to drink a lot of water or she would feel like crap the next day, she thanked me, and we went our separate ways.
Kids. I tell you.
Saturday morning we woke up and saw that it was raining and was expected to rain all day—something we had planned for but were hoping wouldn’t actually happen. Unfortunately, it turned out to be way worse than we had anticipated. We left the hotel around noon to get into the festival in time to see Weezer, who was playing at 2:30, and it was only drizzling. By the time we got into the festival grounds, though, three of us had put on the ponchos I’d bought at a dollar store before leaving town. We got beers and hung out for a while under a tree for some extra cover listening to The Neighborhood (who were decent) and Reignwolf (who were terrible). By the time Weezer finished their set at 3:30 we were completely, utterly soaked. I had on water-resistant shorts, a hat, a rain jacket, and a poncho covering all that and I was soaked to the bone within an hour. Everything inside my Camelback was wet. Ian’s beer seemed never-ending due to all of the rain that fell into it.
It was completely miserable. The rain alternated between what I would call heavy rain, driving rain and a goddamn monsoon. There was no avoiding it. There were no tents to stand under unless you had a Super VIP ticket. I felt really bad for people who hadn’t prepared and showed up wearing jeans and no jacket whatsoever. You know how terrible wet jeans feel? They were stuck wearing wet, cold jeans in the middle of a park that was quickly turning into a field of mud.
We all decided that conditions were too miserable to stick it out all day, so we decided to walk back to the hotel to regroup and go get something to eat. We took showers and dried out our stuff (seriously, I had to peel apart the cash that had been in my wallet—in the middle of the bag—and lay it on the TV cabinet to dry out), and then met up with our friends to go grab some food and drinks at 5 Seasons, a great restaurant nearby that Ian and I visited every time we were in Atlanta last year.
After 5 Seasons we hit up the pub across the street from the hotel so the guys could get their famous duck quesadilla (yes, even though we had just eaten dinner), but once we discovered their extensive menu of hand-crafted cocktails we decided to stick around. Ian was up for heading back to catch the Red Hot Chili Peppers at 9 p.m. since it had quit raining, but we were all three sheets to the wind by then (and I was not to keen on having to use the port-a-potties at the end of a very muddy day) so we opted to just stay at the bar.
I would have liked to have seen more acts on Saturday, but considering the weather I’m convinced we made the right decision. Plus, at $90 it was still a decent value for what we did see—I know I’d pay more than that just to see CAKE and Weezer. I guess that’s the risk you take with a fall festival in the South.
Next year, though, we’re going VIP. There are all kinds of perks, but I was sold when I saw that the private VIP bathrooms aren’t port-a-potties but real, actual bathrooms in a trailer. Bathrooms that are cleaned. Air-conditioned. And, most importantly, since unlimited beer and wine is included: There were never any lines.
I’m so in.