MUSIC MIDTOWN DAY THREE
(featuring Rick James, Mystikal and No Doubt)
Downtown Atlanta, GA
May 5, 2002
Finally, the third day dawned. It was everything I could do to get up and force myself back down 316 again. My feet ached. I was sore all over and a good night's sleep didn't help as much as I wished it had. Ive never made it to all three days of Midtown before, but this year I was determined.
I got there about five o'clock to catch Rick James. He says this is his final tour and while his appearance was definitely not up to the standards of the sex god of old, his attitude was as sharp and dangerous as ever. Flinging mic stands, profaning the crowd and flinging funk and sleaze, he whipped up an ass-kicking set that ran a full 45 minutes over his scheduled time. By the end of "Super Freak, his voice was shot, but James still tore the place apart.
During the break, I heard Mother's Finest rehash "Mickey's Monkey", but I couldn't bring myself to actually go over there and see them.
Mystikal'screw managed to get him on quickly to make up for Rick James' overage.
I only saw a couple of numbers and what I heard was mostly audience participation. It got old fast, so I moved on.
Better Than Ezrafailed to excite me, but Bela Fleck And The Flecktones sounded pretty good as I headed back to the scary place. So far, I had avoided the 99X area today. I heard that people had been trapped on Saturday night and had to escape under vendor booths. Today's lineup was a little more laid back and the level of tension had eased a bit. Remy Zero played perfect music for taking in the sights of the first sunny day. I decided to take it easy. I just wandered around under the blue skies and tried to take it all in. Garbage sounded great, but they were kind of dull to watch.
While I had my dinner, Puddle Of Mudd serenaded me with their redneck Nirvana set list that culminated in "Control." While they're not my thing, I've got to say that they sounded pretty rocking up there. By this time, I was tired, weak and ready to go home. Before No Doubt took to their headlining duties, I saw a disturbing number of bodies passed over the barricade completely unconscious. There were still even more who were just surfing that ocean to come across, be caught by security guards and be escorted out to work their way back again. Many people were dehydrated and hurting. Security guards took bottled water and poured it into begging mouths. It looked just like a nature show with baby birds being fed. It was really strange.
Surprisingly, when No Doubt kicked into "Hella Good," the "dead" rose and all of those miserable people were ecstatic again. The California band bounced and led the crowd into massive pogoing and arm waving. Front woman Gwen Stefani pouted and ran tirelessly from side to side as she led the group through all of their hits. The depth of the audience now stretched thickly all the way back to the Locals Stage growing gradually more sparse as far back as the street that led to the back areas of the festival. "Sunday Morning" was upbeat and rocking, but the favorites were all obvious. Tonight, "Ex-Girlfriend," "Simple Kind Of Life," "Excuse Me Mister" and "Don't Speak" all seemed more like excuses for strangers to bond than songs we've heard a gazillion times.
By the time of "Hey Baby" and "Just A Girl" there was a massive exodus going on. Everyone wanted to leave early and beat the crowds. No one did. It was all grid locked. The clogged arteries full of zombies slowly filtered through the exits as No Doubt encored with the anti-climactic "Rock Steady." "Spiderwebs" was better. I finally made it out of the gates at the end of that song. I jumped into the vein of people rushing for the MARTA station. After we boarded the train and it started moving, a lot of exhausted people actually burst into a spontaneous sing-a-long of KISS' "Rock And Roll All Nite." They were determined to keep the party going. I just wanted some sleep.