I am not sure if it will be acceptable in this blog to fanboy as a part of my first contribution, but I am just going to go for it anyways. The 2014 Music Midtown lineup was announced a few weeks ago, and I could not be more excited. The festival has once again acquired some of the best performers in the business, and I am stoked to see both glorious nights at Piedmont Park in September. In order to diffuse some of my excitement that won’t reach its satisfaction for two months, I decided to write up some Brave’s General Store style analysis for Music Midtown.
Before talking about some of the bands I am most excited about, I wanted to emphasize just what this event can do for some of the smaller bands that will be in attendance. I will give one example, which seems like a reasonably large data set. You have most likely heard of the band Capital Cities. It is the new pop duo comprised of a short Brian Wilson, and that other dude. They had the death slot of playing from 2:15-3:15 pm on Saturday at Music Midtown in 2013. However, after Music Midtown, they hit their peak in Google Trends, and had their hit single Safe and Sound reach number 8 on the Billboard Top 100, which has over 94 million hits on Spotify.
Now yes, I am super biased due to my undying love for Capital Cities’ ability to entertain and do awesome mellow covers of Stayin Alive – check it out on the Dallas Buyer’s Club soundtrack that you should just listen to in its totality while you’re at it. But, this (and music festivals like it) has serious potential to jumpstart a band’s career, which is super exciting! So now to the meat, who is playing and why you should or should not be excited.
Eminem: So, I am just going to get this off my chest now. This is a pretty typical headliner for Music Midtown. This won’t be my first reference to how white-washed the rap is at this event, but I feel like it is super obvious. I just don’t see Eminem as the best rap headliner they could have gotten. Many of his more recognizable songs are collaborations, he has hit a low point on Google Trends, and my interest doesn’t extend much beyond watching videos of him baked on national T.V., but I know he has a reputation for putting on a show, and it should be entertaining regardless.
Jack White: This is the headliner I was looking for. Member of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and ranked the 70th best guitarist of all time by the Rolling Stone, Jack White had a shining resume before going solo. Now, he has struck musical gold. Blunderbuss was widely regarded as one of the best albums of 2012, and his recent follow-up Lazaretto is equally beautiful. Going to be a great act, and mixes a great amount of what can only be described as “grunge-folk” into a very clean and mellow lineup. This act can’t be missed!
Zac Brown Band: This seems unorthodox, but I love the selection. As someone with an unrelenting hatred for most country music, Zac Brown is a safe haven for my North-West Georgia spirit. I have seen him live before, and he knows how to put on a show and stretch his act past just country music. I can’t wait to see him again, especially after the release of the Grohl Sessions, Vol. 1, an under-the-radar EP they released earlier this year that showcases all that I love about this act.
John Mayer: There is an act that sent my sister into frenzied excitement, and that did little more for me than induce a lazy eye roll. This may be your gig, but this is a typical early 2000’s coffee shop act to me. Sing Free Fallin’ and you will have satisfied my pallet, John. On you go.
Lana Del Rey: I’m late to this bandwagon, because I saw her performance on SNL, and I struggle to appreciate artists who can’t perform live (I’m looking at you Steve Perry). I heard she has reigned it in big time, and I have began to get into her stuff more. One big point for her is she hasn’t sold out after the crazy success of the Summertime Sadness Remix. She could have moved into the upbeat pop scene, but she has stuck with her brooding guns on her new album, and I appreciate that. I have to respect an artist that is honest.
Lorde: Love this girl to death, but I am not expecting to enjoy her show. Sure she brings her own “spunk” to the stage, but its just not my style. I know people who love her writhing around, but I just can’t get into it.
Iggy Azalea: CLICK CLACK BANG BANG! I am beyond excited for Iggy. Buff up on her material, especially some underground stuff, because it is all good. Search Murda Bizness for my personal favorite.
Bastille: This is a beautiful band to round out my more in-depth analysis. From what I have seen, this might be one of the best live acts of the year, and possibly decade. Dan Smith has a voice with a range and versatility that makes me drool. Pompeii doesn’t event begin to scratch the surface at what this band can do, and they have so much material to work from. Their extension to Bad Blood, All This Bad Blood is my favorite album from 2013, and they have so many acoustic cuts online that showcase the musical talent of the other three band members. This band is simply special, and is the act I am looking forward to most at Music Midtown.
Must-Sees: Fitz and the Tantrums – some bubblegum pop mixed with Franz Ferdinand-esque vocals; I don’t know why it works, but it does. Twenty One Pilots – White rappers who aren’t overrated lyricists, and they can just put on a show. You’ve got to see them. NEEDTOBREATHE – I’m slightly biased, because this is one of my favorite bands, and Rivers in the Wasteland might be one of my favorite albums, but these guys are phenomenal. Bear Rinehart has an amazingly versatile voice, and they will be one of the best acts of the weekend. Greg Allman and Run DMC – Much less oldies acts than last year, but I think that these two are perfect. Super different, appeal to tons of people, and as long as mostly Allman Brothers stuff is played, I’m happy. Super excited for these two.
Forgettables: Sleeper Agent – just can’t get into this band. Not sure why, but I’m not expecting much. Aer – this isn’t me saying that they aren’t good. They are definitely worth checking out, but the rap game is already super white washed this weekend, and this will be the least memorable. Ron Pope – Similar to John Mayer, sing A Drop in the Ocean and head out.
Do Your Own Research: There’s some people who I have mixed feelings about, and don’t know about how they look live. As to not force all of my opinions on you the lovely readers, I’ll give super short opinions. B.o.B. should be a nice mix, but I’m not his biggest fan. The Strypes is pretty niche, but should be a good show. Banks is great, but she doesn’t have tons of stuff to pull from. Mayer Hawthorne is interesting, but I have yet to form an opinion on him. Magic Man has a cool sound, but it seems kind of derivative. However, they just came out with their first full-length album two days ago, so check it out if you’re interested. Finally, Bear Hands. Not sure if I like their music or their name, but either way, I will try to make it. I can just picture how awesome their shirts could be.