Midtown Music Festival: Everything I Hate About Everything

I am a firm believer in sandwich criticism, where the negative is squished between the positive. This will be a Katz’s Deli Pastrami Sandwich of a post.

Eating murdered cows is less ethically dubious than Music Midtown.

The Highlander is a good midtown dive bar, with decent drink prices and generous shots. I thank it for providing me with a fortified buzz and a respite from the Midtown Music Festival’s corporate assault.

For fifty-five dollars, concertgoers had the pleasure of seeing Midtown’s spacious Piedmont Park transformed into a corporate bordello, with hooha logos animated on the jumbotrons flanking both stages, plastered on makeshift billboards, and adorning every piece of free schwag lugged around by knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers. The jumbotrons were especially insidious, being too small for audience members far away to see, but perfect for flashing consumerist propaganda in between shows.

It’d been a while since I’d gone to an AA+ concert, and I’d forgotten the maw of Mammon stages that strain out the dignity of both the audience and musicians like the eighty foot mouth of a Randian baleen whale. I go to concerts to see musicians perform, not traipse around like miniatures on a late-capitalist diorama. But maybe that’s just me. Nobody in the (99% white) crowd gave a shit. I felt like the meathead hero of John Carpenter’s They Live, when he finds a pair of magical sunglasses that reveal humanity is enslaved by a race of aliens who drill the message, “Obey, consume, conform” into the minds of an unsuspecting human populace.

Music Midtown, Circa 2011

I know no one goes to a music festival as some sort of political statement, and I’m not saying I do either, but the relentless advertising pushed the event from barely tolerable to nauseating. And the crowd lined up at the garbage trough, either oblivious or desensitized. For me, the experience was like being one of those 19th century, British orientalists, observing a foreign culture with a mixture of awe and disgust and relying on phrenology to provide an answer for their primitive ways.

What I would call the “UGA musician look” has begun filtering its way into the mainstream. Ratty shoes, jean cutoffs, and a dirty wife beater with a pubic puff of chest hair was in relative abundance, at least moreso than skinny jeans. They were almost as common as high schoolers, who will hopefully graduate to eighteen-and-up shows at the Drunken Unicorn before being assimilated as office drones after their first dead-end, unpaid internship.

I saw lots of polo shirts, cargo shorts and khakis—which are a rare species in my rarefied, utopian neighborhood—along with shirtless men whose gym-rat physique is equally (and conspicuously) absent from the local bars I frequent, where pasty flab and heroin chic turn wary eyes on those capable of running more than twenty steps before the collapse of their tar-coated lungs.

As for the ladies, let me put it like this: with guys, you can correlate their taste in music to their clothing and the tidiness of their facial hair to a statistically significant p=0.05. This did not turn out to be the case for fairer sex at the Music Midtown Festival; women would not have been out of place at 529 milled about the crowd, although the female equivalent of a popped collar brobag was to be found in numbers equal or greater. I have a theory with regards to tattoos, but I have to set up an experiment with careful controls before I say anything definitive.

Did I mention there were high schoolers? I had forgotten what they looked like, with their badly concealed acne and darting squirrel eyes, as if authorities patrolled the crowd, intent on making sure they didn’t have fun. Which may have very well been true.

And old people: they don’t know any better, so I begrudge them nothing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see Coldplay, as I was too busy suffering the side effect of my self-medication. I would like to report that the whiskey tasted about the same coming up as going down.

Now for the bottom piece of my sandwich: the festival was well run, the volunteers courteous, and the technical staff competent. All of the shows I saw began at the time specified in the promotional materials.

    • Drew
    • September 26th, 2011

    Well, I loved the They Live reference.

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