Okay, folks. This week I'm throwing it back to the first Odyssey article I ever wrote. Back when I first joined the team, I dished my feelings about going to concerts and experiencing an almost spiritual awakening with the thousands of people there listening to music that defines your life, identity, or has saved you in some way. I designed it to be the first part of a two-part piece, and today I'm going to finish what I started.
When I knew that I was coming to Atlanta, Georgia for college, I was excited. But it probably isn't the type of anticipation that one would expect. Of course, my parents had told me about this progressive city with amazing job opportunities (hello @cocacola!), and Emory University is one of the top-ranked higher education institutions in the nation, yet the aspect of Atlanta living that I was ready for was the multitude of musical artists that would tour here.
Now into my fourth week, I'm not disappointed. Just this past weekend I had the chance to attend Music Midtown, an annual music festival hosted in Piedmont Park. This year's lineup featured Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Post Malone, and Fall Out Boy as headliners. Other notable performers included Khalid, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Gucci Mane, Portugal. The Man, The Revivalists, Foster the People, Kacey Musgraves, Bazzi, Børns, and Billie Eilish. The idea that this many famous bands and solo singers could congregate in one place for the weekend of a lifetime surpassed me.
Music festivals are a live music experience unlike no other, and this was my first time. Not surprisingly, there were parts that I loved and parts I wasn't quite fond of. I don't feel like writing an incredibly winding article, so I'm going to list my pros and cons in a concise list (with a brief explanation) for your perusal.
- Realness - Personally, I feel that at concerts these touring artists are just doing their job, one show at a time. At a music festival, they appear to show more sides of their humanity and truly share their life passions with the people who come to see them.
- Value - The ability to buy a ~$200 General Admission pass for multiple performances by popular artists trumps a single concert ticket.
- Energy - At concerts, if you're not on the floor, most people will stay seated for most songs and not get up to dance. At a music festival, everyone's looking for a good time, so people sing loud and dance without abandon.
- Community - Much like concerts, they still have the feel of a tight-knit yet also large community bonding through good music.
- Trade-Offs - While music festivals do have performances by tons of artists, it's impossible to go to all the shows you want. Scheduling conflicts and travel times between stages (complicated by the sheer number of people moving around) are sad.
- Wasted Environment - As a result of music festivals, the grounds tend to quickly get covered by the mass of trash left by festers. Whether it be leftover food, their containers, or anything unwanted, the grass simply becomes an apocalypse. As a relatively environmentally conscious person, I was not a huge fan of this.
- Crowds - Since festivals aren't as structured as concerts, the horde of people at shows and in between shows is also horrifying. I'm not a big fan of crowds, so this earns festivals another thumbs down from me.
- View - Finally, because of the crowds and dynamic space, the view you get at each performance varies. Usually, they're not that great, and as a very short human being, I would really appreciate the ability to see the artists at a reasonable distance without tiptoeing. Of course, getting those premium spots in the mosh pit is also a dream for EVERY SINGLE PERFORMANCE. Which is unattainable because you have to give up your time on a different performance to get to the front.
Alas, those are my reflections from a wild, wild weekend. Though my ultimate opinion is that I prefer concerts over festivals, I would totally be down for another crazy experience. Nearly losing my college room keys and a beloved camp alumni lanyard (saw it on the online lost-and-found, hope it finds its way back to me), having my water bottle and umbrella taken away by security, trying to get to festival grounds on time, getting a painful blister that makes it hurt to walk all day today (recovery week I guess), and unhealthy food is balanced by the happy moments.
The elaborate face paint that ended up becoming the lady in Fall Out Boy's "Hold Me Tight or Don't" music video, the new friends I made, the adventure we took last night finding a friend who was picking our group up, being inches away from Pete Wentz (bassist/frontman of Fall Out Boy), singing along to all the songs I know at each show, moving up in the crowd at Khalid since everyone was leaving for other shows, and hearing an inspiring speech about mental health by Dan Reynolds (lead singer/frontman of Imagine Dragons). These are the ones I cherish.
It was all worth it in the end. Thanks, Music Midtown! You betcha I'll be back next September :)
P.S. I hope you can tell I'm a huge huge huge Fall Out Boy fan #stayfrosty #youngblood #poisonedyouth #mania
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