If social media channels are any indication, the ultimate neighborhood music festival was a polarizing affair. But the vibe from within the soggy grounds of Piedmont Park seemed universally jubilant — even as God, in the words of the Black Lips, started "pissing on us." A sold-out Music Midtown ruled Piedmont Park on Friday and Saturday for the third consecutive year since taking an extended hiatus. We'd planned to lug in expensive camera equipment, but the Saturday morning forecast squashed all that. We did manage to capture the essence of the festival via a waterlogged cellphone, and now that we've dried out and showered (twice), here are some subjective observations.
· The addition of the third stage — The Roxy — lent a new dimension to the festival and helped to thin crowds and some lines.
· The chill grooves of Phoenix on a Friday evening.
· The setting, with the skyline backdrop, clearly inspires all performers who behold it. Cordoning off Piedmont Park for days might be an inconvenience, but the venue is exceptional — from an aesthetic standpoint more than a functional one — for hosting a large-scale concert in the heart of a major city.
· Saturday evening's fireball sunset was magic, to point that Yeah Yeah Yeahs' maven Karen O declared: "Holy shit!"
· Remarkably, Weezer frontman Rivers Coumo's grandparents live in Peachtree City, where his mother is from. That inspired an impromptu little ditty about riding golf carts wherever you please.
· Jane's Addiction's raucous Friday night set, complete with a wince-inducing "trapeze" display.
· Atlanta rapper 2 Chainz's heartfelt odes to hometown strippers.
· The Red Hot Chili Peppers' scintillating cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground."
· How the Black Lips took the stage to the Atlanta Braves' rallying cry, and then advised festivalgoers on how to illegally enter Music Midtown. (Hint: Ice is involved).
· Imagine Dragons working a few verses of "Stand By Me" into a clearly inspired set.
· Alex Turner, the Arctic Monkeys self-assured singer, dedicating their biggest hit to the girlfriends of indifferent gents in the crowd.
· The invention of ponchos.
· To our knowledge, no ATMs went dry this year.
· The lineup, overall.
· The 10th Street entrance lines, on early Saturday afternoon especially, were an epic failure. Festival goers eager to catch Weezer and others stood in thick lines that stretched for several blocks. (The AJC reports the hiccups were caused by faulty ticket scanners, which were blocked from the satellites they use to operate by Saturday's persistent cloud cover. Time for a new vendor, perhaps?)
· How the weather really sucked on Saturday.
· Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with complaints of low volume toward the back of the crowd during the Red Hot Chili Peppers' performance. (Toward the front, at far right, the sound was dynamite).
· Rampant sock abuse and abandonment.
· The Mowgli's calling Atlanta "the Midwest."
· General and unavoidable damage to Piedmont Park's grounds.
· Long lines at portable toilets. This includes clusters of toilets farthest away from active stages. Sure, large-scale outdoor festivals entail some degree of inconvenience. But is there no remedy for the half-hour-plus waits?
· The drunken mud luge.
· Let's hear it for whoever had the foresight to bring that inflatable, rubber-ducky mud sled! Genius!