MUSIC MIDTOWN DAY ONE
(featuring: David Lee Roth, Hoobastank, Res, Butch Walker)
Downtown Atlanta, GA
May 3, 2002
This year's Music Midtown featured over 100 bands during three days that apparently crossed the tastes of just about everybody in Atlanta judging by how thick the attendance was despite the imminent threat of rain. As I made it through the mass of humanity, the first act that caught my ear was a Blowfish-less Hootie. Darius Rucker provided the same sonorous vocal we've all come to know, but this time it was over a backdrop of late '70s/early '80s Venus Flytrap style soul. He closed with a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Living For The City" and I wandered to the 99X Stage for the first time. Marvelous 3's Butch Walker chose Midtown to unveil his eponymous new band. Walker posed and showed off like always. He's entertaining to watch and he managed the professionalism to keep things moving even though half of the main speakers went out over and over. I didn't stay for his whole set, but the fresh tunes I heard were better than the Marvelous 3 songs that I knew. As I walked away, Butch was singing TLC's "Waterfalls" in tribute to Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez.
Back at the V-103 stage, newcomer Res was dishing out some gorgeous soul. She was shy and seemed overwhelmed by the scale of the show, but she was the first great act of the festival. Res chased the rain away with her voice. She was assisted by a smooth group that was great at reviving the spirit of the Philly sound of the mid '70s. After this, I bounced back over to the 99X Stage for a bit of Hoobastank. I should've stayed and listened to WAR, because Hoobastank were a bore and the generic songs I heard were forgotten by the time I made it the Z93 set up. I was here to see Jethro Tull, but I didn't. They were running late and at an extravaganza this size, I didn't feel I had time to wait.
David Lee Roth:
I scooted down the hill to the 96 Rock stage to see if David Lee Roth could muster up even a hint of that old excitement. For an early VH fan like myself, I've got to say the set list was incredible. From the time that he bounded out into the lights with "Hot For Teacher" to the closing "Jump," he kept the hairy classics coming. Unlike with modern acts, it was obvious that we were in the presence of a rock star as Diamond Dave hammed it up. Decked out in a metallic gold suit cut almost like Elvis Presley's famous '68 Comeback special outfit, Roth was buff and in fine shape. During "Panama" through "And The Cradle Will Rock" he did plenty of his trademark high kicks and jumps just like in the glory days. As the would-be Eddie Van Halen tapped into the opening of "Mean Streets," I noticed the difference between this and Van Halen proper. The real band was always on the edge of collapse. Everything was so frantic that part of the thrill was in seeing how long before they exploded. Dave's band hit all of the notes perfectly, but that fire was clearly missing. The guitarist even aped Eddie's trademark solo "Eruption" note for note, but it was like watching a clinic in a music store. Luckily, the set list made it more than worthwhile. I never thought I'd get to hear "So This Is Love," "Little Dreamer," or "Atomic Punk" in person! Add to those all of the ones you'd expect and you get the highlight of the first night. Dave's definitely still got it. Sure, he's a parody of himself, but he was already that by the early '80s. Now I desperately want to see a full-fledged reunion tour. What are the Van Halens waiting for? Roth's ready.