Midtown Keeps Good Vibe

By all accounts, Atlanta’s three-day Music Midtown kept its mojo despite a threat from Tropical Storm Arlene and another event taking place in the same city, the Vibe MusicFest.

The June 10-12 Midtown doubled its talent budget from $2 million to $4 million, bringing in The White Stripes, The Killers, Pixies, Interpol, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. It also successfully added country music to its lineup, including Montgomery Gentry and Keith Urban.

The festival got hit by the corner of Tropical Storm Arlene, which rained on the outdoor event for several hours June 11th. Midtown was moved to June after spending the last two years as a wet May event, but this year’s water did not seem to affect attendance too much.

The Vibe MusicFest, on the other hand, apparently didn’t go as well as expected. The event to celebrate Black Music Month was held indoors at the Atlanta Georgia Dome and nearby Georgia World Congress Center. The daytime was devoted mostly to panel discussions, fashion shows, film screenings and events of that nature, but the evenings included shows by Kanye West and Lauryn Hill.

Vibe magazine president Kenard Gibbs told Pollstar in March that the events were dissimilar and he took offense to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story that dubbed the two as a “Battle of the Music Fests.”

“If anything, the people of Atlanta will have a musical experience unparalleled to anything they’ve had before, whether they go to Music Midtown or go to our festival or go to both.”

Likewise, Midtown promoter Peter Conlon, who could not be reached for comment at press time, reportedly said he, too, had a problem with the paper because it had generated fear there would be traffic and logistical problems because of the coexisting events. Apparently, there were no such problems.

No matter the case, it appears the Vibe fest didn’t hit expectations. Gibbs told the Journal-Constitution the Kanye West concert “fell pretty short of projections” of 20,000 attendees.

As for the conference, it tended to run late. Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled for a speaking engagement June 11th, but arrived to a room that had three people in it amid a “sea of folding chairs,” the paper said. Sharpton waited for 45 minutes as the crowd swelled to 16.

Hill’s concert apparently did well but started two hours late.

Gibbs said he was concerned with the delays but there was enough turnout to give the Vibe fest another shot.