Peter Conlon is God

Coldplay at Music Midtown

Coldplay at Music MidtownMusic Midtown was an Atlanta icon for more than a decade, attracting hundreds of thousands of concert goers during its eclectic multi day, multi stage heyday. Finally, after six years of mourning our fallen idol and licking our collective wounds, Peter Conlon and his merry band of musical miscreants and rhythmic rebel rousers have resurrected the proud festival tradition that is Music Midtown!

Sure, this year’s version was only one day, two stages and 10 bands, so maybe it wasn’t quite the rise from the ashes some local bloggers and journalists had prayed it would be. To that I say, “No one likes a Judas folks.” The lineup, which was headlined by my own personal guilty pleasure Coldplay, was stacked with talent and true star power, including The Black Keys, The Joy Formidable, Young the Giant and even local boys Manchester Orchestra and The Constellations. Plus, rumors are already swirling about Conlon and his flock expanding the festival to two full days in 2012 following this year’s success.

The music was pumping, the sun was shining and the beer was flowing … so what if it was mostly a certain canned beer that I (usually) refuse to drink. As far as I’m concerned, this year’s Music Midtown, with its swelling crowds as the sun set over Piedmont Park, was a triumphant success chocked full of good times … even if some of us (who shall remain nameless) can’t remember the walk home.

As usual, here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Never fall asleep at a festival. Okay, I know it’s a long day, but passing out on the lawn of a music festival is akin to committing social suicide. The best thing that could happen to you is people are kind enough to step over your drunken, sunburned ass and all you’ll wake up with is a hangover. What is more likely to happen, however, is you’ll be covered with festival litter like empty beer cans and dirty paper plates or danced over by hot girls making fun of you while their friends take pictures for posterity’s sake. Now that, my friends, is not something you’re gonna live down. I sure found it hilarious though, so thanks for over indulging fellas.

2. Alcoholic beverages shouldn’t come in pouches. Anyone who has ever met me knows my affinity for Mexican food and margaritas. I would even go so far as to say I’m a bit of a connoisseur. So, of course, I was intrigued by the margarita in a pouch concept some peppy girls were hocking at Music Midtown. “Margarita in a pouch,” I thought. “How convenient.” Imagine my surprise when the girl in the tent told me they were no good and she would recommend the actual margaritas in cups just a few booths down. Imagine my further surprise when I spotted a fellow concert goer trying to choke down one of these apparently rancid concoctions … like a kid who just ate a lemon I tell ya. Whew! Tragedy avoided but that doesn’t change the fact that I now consider margaritas in a pouch alcohol abuse.

3. The Brits like REM too. For Atlantans, it was a sad day last week when local band REM announced it was calling it quits. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones shocked by the news. Chris Martin, lead singer of Music Midtown headliners Coldplay, announced woefully the Athens-based band was greatly influential to the group even over in merry old England. Coldplay launched into a melodic rendition of the REM classic Everybody Hurts to a cheering crowd only minutes before the night sky lit up with pyro, fireworks and enough lasers to blind people in the suburbs. Thanks for that C Mart. We couldn’t have asked for a better send off for our beloved hometown heroes.

4. Cowboy boots are the devil. Heed my warning, fair readers, never wear newish cowboy boots to an all day music festival unless you want to be doctoring a throbbing, oozing blister for weeks to come. I know this should seem like common sense, but even extra thick socks won’t save you from the foot equivalent of the plague. I actually had to miss most of Cage the Elephant to walk back home and dig a pair of flops from my car trunk but, by then, it was too late. I don’t think that old red mercurochrome is going to help this. I might have to amputate.

5. Customer service isn’t dead. Despite my recent experiences with BMW, SunTrust and Delta that prove otherwise, Music Midtown renewed my faith in customer service. Everyone at the festival, from media check and gate workers to beer stand staff and even that nice girl who forewarned me about margaritas in a pouch, really rolled out the red carpet. Another gold star winner for the day (or more appropriately … the night) was the staff at the Loew’s Atlanta Hotel. Talk about customer service! These guys (and gals) are about the most helpful, polite crew of folks I’ve had the pleasure to share air with in a while. Just one question … how in hell does every staffer remember every guests’ name every night? Now, that’s impressive!

So, Conlon and his disciples do it again, and Music Midtown is back with a vengeance. As an agnostic, I’m tempted to take this as evidence that there is, indeed, a god. His name just may be Peter Conlon. Sidebar: Religious readers, please don’t get all holier than thou on me; this whole thing was just a useful metaphor. Simmer down.

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