Second day of ‘Big Night Out’ festival marred by lousy weather.

Would it have been too much to ask for the weather to cooperate on a big night of Atlanta’s first multi-day festival this year?

Thunderstorms pushed the start time of the second day of the “Big Night Out,” the first “pod” concert in town, but even by the time Alabama singer-songwriter Early James took the stage just after 7:30 p.m., unrelenting rain soaked the grass and created rivers of water down the walkways at Centennial Olympic Park.

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The unique setup – popularized overseas this summer – is really more “pen” than “pod”; rows of individual gated squares segregated for groups of four or six (the back lawn, where two or four-person pods were added, remained empty on this miserable night, but the three main groupings closest to the stage were mostly full of poncho-clad fans undeterred by water).

The crowd was light for James' set, but filled in for Futurebirds, the Athens-based quintet, who played an energetic 80-minute set that agreeably mixed their twangy country, rock and the hallmarks of jam band music.

A crew member uses measuring tape to social distance each private pod for the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on Thursday, October 22, 2020. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
A crew member uses measuring tape to social distance each private pod for the "Big Night Out" concert series at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta on Thursday, October 22, 2020. (Photo: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

In a performance that included “Twentyseven” and “Killing Ground,” along with “Baba Yaga” – powered by pedal steel guitar – and the steady bass drum thump of “MJB,” Futurebirds kept the pockets of soggy revelers dancing.

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During the fun hoedown “My Broken Arm,” with its with it singalong chorus of variations of “your money’s no good,” the group of singer-guitarist Carter King, singer-guitarist Daniel Womack, drummer Johnny Lundock, bassist Brannen Miles and singer-guitarist Thomas Johnson was clearly enjoying their time back onstage in front of an appreciative audience.

Singer/guitarist Daniel Womack of Futurebirds performs at the Big Night Out at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 24, 2020.
Singer/guitarist Daniel Womack of Futurebirds performs at the Big Night Out at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 24, 2020.

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While the rain never ceased throughout the four-plus hours of music, it picked up a heavier band as Marcus King and his stellar bassist (Stephen Campbell) and drummer (Jack Ryan) arrived on stage, almost as if it needed to keep pace with the fury of guitar and blues rock about to be unleashed.

For those unfamiliar with King, he is a marvel. And at only 24, the Greenville, South Carolina, native inspires hope that a new generation is still interested in burning up a fretboard.

With music in his bloodlines, King began playing with his father, Marvin, at the age of 8, which explains not only his incredible technical dexterity, but his comfort on stage. “It feels good to get out of the damn house!” he proclaimed from the stage a few songs into his set.

His debut album, “El Dorado,” produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, is a scorcher, and King drew from those tracks, along with other new songs such as “Demon of My Own Design,” which exploded under a halo of flashing white lights.

The Marcus King Trio - featuring hotshot guitarist King, along with drummer Jack Ryan and bass player Stephen Campbell headlined the Big Night Out at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 24, 2020.
The Marcus King Trio - featuring hotshot guitarist King, along with drummer Jack Ryan and bass player Stephen Campbell headlined the Big Night Out at Centennial Olympic Park on Oct. 24, 2020.

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Melissa Ruggieri/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

While King’s full band includes horns and steel guitar, there is no lack of musical muscle in the trio version, which ripped through “Red Door Blues,” a song King wrote with British duo Ida Mae.

While King thrived on the festival-sized stage, it would be welcome to witness his prowess in a smaller setting (and perhaps, with a roof).

The “Big Night Out” series will wrap on Sunday with Atlanta rap royalty, Big Boi, who promises to bring along some friends for his headlining set. Fortunately, the forecast looks clear.

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