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Freaknik Festival returns this summer as three-day Freak World event

Dis N Dat band members perform during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Dis N Dat band members perform during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Juvenile, 2 Live Crew among the performers

Freaknik Festival will be back in 2020 with a new name to reflect its expanded form – Freak World.

Last summer, Carlos Neal of Atlanta-based promotion company After 9, resurrected the infamous Atlanta event with a daylong concert at Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood. A lineup featuring Project Pat, Uncle Luke, Da Brat, Foxy Brown and many more nearly sold out the venue and attracted an adult audience old enough to remember the rambunctious Freakniks of the past, but young enough to still party - responsibly.

“For everyone who said, ‘This isn’t the Freaknik of the ‘90s,’ I’m like, look, we’re older now and most people got that and still had fun,” Neal said.

The success in 2019 inspired Neal to return (he’s also developed an acronym for the Freak brand – Fearlessly Reliving and Embracing Atlanta’s Kulture).

The Freaknik Festival will be part of a three-day Freak World weekend to be held June 19-21 at the Cascade Road Driving Range, a significant area to Neal.

“I wanted to do it in a community where people embraced this event. I chose the community where I grew up because I wanted the dollars to impact that community,” he said, adding that last year’s crowd was about 94 percent African American. “So I wanted to do it in a predominately African American neighborhood.”

A  crowd gathers early on the lawn to listen to music during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019.  STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
A crowd gathers early on the lawn to listen to music during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Several thousand parking spaces will be available among the driving range site and the parking lots of nearby Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church and Greenbriar Mall.

Neal has only praise for Lakewood and its Live Nation management, but believes moving the event to a location where he has more control will ultimately benefit the consumer.

“Because I could only generate revenue from the ticket sales, I had to put too much pressure on the consumer to cover my costs,” Neal said. “By doing this at Cascade, I can have vendors and food trucks and pass those savings down to the consumer. I’m lowering the price and adding bigger artists.”

Neal, who is also working with Atlanta festival promoter Eric Barnes, plans to enlist more than 100 vendors and schedule about 40-50 acts during the three-day event, which he will cap at about 10,000 fans per day (the event is 18 and older).

He's currently selling "blind" tickets – before the lineup is announced – for $49.99 for a three-day general admission pass and $164.99 for three-day VIP via www.freaknikfest.com.

Jgenisius Harris dances to the music in her 1995  Freaknik shirt during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019. Harris said her family went to the 1995 Freaknik and she got the tee shirt.  STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC
Jgenisius Harris dances to the music in her 1995 Freaknik shirt during the FreakNik 2019 concert at the Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood Saturday, June 22, 2019. Harris said her family went to the 1995 Freaknik and she got the tee shirt. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

However, Neal did allow a peek at a few artists slated to perform – New Orleans rapper Juvenile (“He killed it last year,” Neal said) and Florida exports 69 Boyz and 2 Live Crew (sans Uncle Luke). The full lineup will be announced in early spring.

Neil acknowledged learning many a lesson from his experience last year, but primarily, “to be aware of the copycats.”

He’s not only protective of the Freaknik name, but concerned for the safety of fans. He’s scheduled meetings with the city of South Fulton and the Atlanta police department to discuss potential problems.

“These copycat events try to bring back the negative aspects of Freaknik. It completely runs opposite to the vision I’ve created for it,” Neal said. “Last year they caught us off guard, but not again.”

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