Ludacris headlined the first night of the Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena on Jan. 31, 2019.
Photo: Robb Cohen
Photo: Robb Cohen

Super Bowl 53: Ludacris to Migos, Atlanta lineup (and guests) rocks State Farm Arena

There’s the sound of a peach pit separating from its flesh. There’s the hiss of a Coke. And then there’s Ludacris, Young Jeezy and T.I. performing in the Hawks arena to thousands of Atlantans.

»»PHOTOS: Check out our gallery from the first night of the Super Bowl Music Fest

That was the general vibe Thursday night, which kicked off the three-day Super Bowl Music Fest with the EA Sports Bowl.

And what kind of a Southern affair would it be if random people didn’t stop by. So was the case with Gucci Mane during the Migos set.

Offset, Takeoff and Quavo of Migos arrive for the Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena on Jan. 31, 2019.
Photo: Robb Cohen

But headliner Ludacris has some surprises of his own: He brought on Jermaine Dupri to do his 2001 party-changing hit “Welcome To Atlanta” that featured Luda. Then Ludacris brought on Young Jeezy and T.I.

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The three of them stood on stage, all Atlanta music legends, and just kind of puffed their chests — they talked about how anyone coming to their city should respect them.

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 31: (L-R) Young Jeezy, Ludacris, and T.I. perform onstage during Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest / EA SPORTS BOWL at State Farm Arena on January 31, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Bud Light Super Bowl Music Fest / EA SPORTS BOWL)
Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Bud Light Super

T.I.’s appearance also means he apparently isn’t boycotting the Super Bowl like he previously said, but being on a stage like that is pretty tempting.

The crowd was decidedly young for a Thursday night concert. But they were watching a historic show, considering it took two decades for Atlanta to get another Super Bowl.

For the young Atlantan or out-of-towner, the show really would have been an education in Atlanta music.

Lil Jon made sure of that. Speaking of, if you ever think you’ve listened to intense music in rapid succession before, try a DJ set from Lil Jon that lasts, like, 20 minutes. He bumped ATL rollerskating rink classics, and no one seemed to mind.

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Atlanta’s newer stars also got some love. Lil Yachty and Lil Baby both did more to energize the crowd than any of the legends that performed.

Ciara put on a wild set with sometimes more than a dozen dancers rolling around the stage.

Ciara, joined by a group of dancers, performs on the first night of the Super Bowl Music Fest at State Farm Arena on Jan. 31, 2019.
Photo: Robb Cohen

Ludacris brought dancers, too. In fact, he had a circular stripper pole set-up, akin to the one in Atlanta’s most famous strip club Magic City, that dancers swung and twerked from. 

In another attempt to hearken to his bonkers BET Uncut music videos that bordered on reality, during his performance of the uber-sexual “What’s Your Fantasy?” he had two pairs of dancers on stage — one featured a riding crop and the other a human on a fuzzy leash. That sense of unabashed sex and danger was essential to Luda early on.

Elsewhere that nightZac Brown Band gets an assist from Dave Grohl at Pandora concert at the Tabernacle 

And it’s that sense of bringing it back to basics that permeated his set; he often set up songs as “another No. 1” track of his.

And he has quite a few, which is evidenced by the show lasting until 1:30 a.m. Certainly not the whole audience saw the end, but they saw enough, which was an Atlanta-first and Atlanta-proud show by some of the city’s biggest musicians.

Here’s hoping to another one during Super Bowl 72.

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Rapper, actor Ludacris watches, for the first time, his Mercedes-Benz commercial, which will air Sunday during Super Bowl LIII. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was invited, along with special guests, for a private viewing of the TV spot at the Mercedes-Benz Brand Center in Phipps Plaza, Wednesday, January 30, 2019 Atlanta. Ryon Horne / RHORNE@AJC.COM

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About the Author

Ben Brasch
Ben Brasch
Ben Brasch is a reporter with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covering Fulton County. He graduated from the University of Florida and is often reminded...