A massive crowd gathers at Piedmont Park for the Dave Matthews Band and Allman Brothers benefit concert where nearly the entire park was blanketed with spectators on Sept. 8, 2007.
Photo: Pouya Dianat/The AJC
Photo: Pouya Dianat/The AJC

Piedmont Park is more than selfies, it’s hallowed music ground

If you find yourself at Music Midtown, stop for a second to take in the history.

In May 1969, a few shaggy bluesmen from Macon ran an extension cord from someone’s apartment and played an impromptu show at Piedmont Park. It shook many. The Allman Brothers Band went on to shake a lot more.

Or how about in 1982 when some college rockers from Athens played the Arts Festival of Atlanta? Many superfans of R.E.M. say this is one of the earliest recordings of a full live show from the band.

So, yes, Piedmont Park is more than a haven for selfies and skyline views. It is hallowed music ground.

GUIDEMusic Midtown 2018: Tickets, transportation, parking, security and more

Many greats of the aural art have played there: Paul McCartney, Drake, Elton John, Eminem, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ludacris, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Lenny Kravitz, Run the Jewels, The Killers, Lil Wayne, Big Boi, Blink-182, Weezer, Mumford & Sons, Bruno Mars and a bevy of artists who played the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Paul McCartney rocked thousands of fans at a concert in Piedmont Park on Aug. 15, 2009. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While Music Midtown is often what’s attracted the big names, sometimes Piedmont Park itself is the draw.

The 185-acre triangle is a stellar example of why we’re the “City in a Forest.”

It started with a homestead cabin in the early 1800s, then morphed into a horse racetrack, and in 1895 it was the site of a 100-day fair. It hosted the Crackers, Atlanta’s first professional baseball team, and the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, a football game between the University of Georgia and Auburn University.

In the early 1900s, the space started to take shape as a park. Miles of paved road lead to a man-made lake and multiple buildings.

The park’s musical history came full circle in 2007 when the Allman Brothers Band, along with the Dave Matthews Band, played a benefit concert for 50,000 people. The beneficiary was the very ground on which they stood; the concert raised more than $1 million for the park’s expansion.

From May 2018Atlanta moves forward with $100 million Piedmont Park expansion

“It pretty much was a life-changing event,” Ron Currens, who was 20 years old at the first show, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution just before the 2007 concert.

The 58-year-old software salesman was excited for the reprise after 38 years. Ahead of the show, he said: “If you see me dancing with my eyes closed, I may be having an out-of-body experience.”

Rock on, Piedmont Park.

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Music Midtown

Noon-11 p.m. Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday. Saturday lineup includes Post Malone, Fall Out Boy, Kacey Musgraves, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Portugal. The Man and AWOLNATION; Sunday lineup includes Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae, Butch Walker, Gucci Mane and Khalid.

$155 (two-day general admission), $600 (two-day VIP) and $1,250 (two-day Super VIP). A $100-per-day upgrade is available for GA+. Piedmont Park, 400 Park Drive NE, Atlanta. 1-888-512-7469, musicmidtown.com.

More below!

With the 2018 Music Midtown ready to go this weekend, Live Nation Atlanta president, Peter Conlon, shares what he believe were some of the festival's best performances. He also shares who he's excited to see on this year's lineup.

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