MUSIC MIDTOWN 2016- MY JOURNEY TO THE MEDIA PIT
By: Madison Sharp
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Wayne Gretzky- Michael Scott.
With that being said, let me tell you about the journey it took to reach the media pit at Music Midtown. When I applied I was overall denied by the festival but, that was not going to stop me. This is my fourth Midtown but it was my first as a concert photographer. Each year I sat in the crowd dreaming of what it would be like if I could be on the other side in the media pit. So, knowing how hard headed I am I decided to email every single artist/ press manager on that line up. Which included, The Killers, Twenty One Pilots, Beck, The Lumineeers, Alabama Shakes, Kesha, Leon Bridges, Melanie Martinez, GROUPLOVE, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Zella Day, Peter Bjorn and John, Etc.
Mind you I probably got blacklisted from many record labels from the amount of emails I sent. But the gray skies soon turned blue and I go an in with Peter Bjorn and John. Who by far have the nicest and most corporative press manager. Then finally, it was the day Atlanta had been waiting for.
Saturday September 17th, 2016 was here. I watched the acts on Saturday preform from the crowd but it was worth being packed in like sardines. I saw Zella Day (she's a goddess), DNCE, Leon Bridges, ColleGrove, and Twenty One Pilots. Each act was wonderful especially Leon Bridges. I think he might be Sam Cooke reincarnated. Bridges puts on a show incomparable to anyone in modern music. His retros style of fashion/ music holds a special place in those hearts who listed to old records with loved ones. This day was filled with sweat, third degree sunburn, and some of the best festival food out there.
Then came Sunday. The day I had been waiting for since I was in middle school. I remember saving every penny I had when I was younger to buy Kesha's Animal + Cannibal album. And on Sunday September 18th 2016 I finally got to see her. The day started off with me waiting at the media desk for over an hour to get my press pass. As they put the media wristband on me along with the sticker that said Peter Bjorn and John only I devised a plan. As I walked backstage to tour buses and staff who gave me questionable looks I knew I was home. I got to Peter's set right as they came on.
Peter Bjorn and John: First off if you haven't heard this Swedish indie band you are missing out. If you look them up I bet you can recognize a catchy tune called, "Young Folks." Which was featured on every ABC drama for two years. These guys were full of energy and were ready to take on the large crowd that had gathered at their set. As I danced/ took pictures I discovered a brand new favorite song, "What You Talking About?" This sing filled with bells and whistles has been on repeat since Midtown. Check out their new album, Breakin' Point. This is the band's newest album since 2011.
Melanie Martinez: After Peter's set I made my way back up to my friends. Four of my favorite people were camped out front row at the Roxy stage for Melanie, Grouplove, and Kesha. When I arrived I saw that they had been pushed back and we were no longer front and center. Many frequent concert goers know the feeling of not being front and it's horrific. So, I decided my photo journey was not finished, I was not taking no for an answer. I knew I wanted to take pictures of Melanie so I did. I looked down at my sticker that read, "Madison Sharp- Peter Bjorn ONLY" I got an idea. I asked around for a pen and of course the old woman next to me pulled a sharpie out of her purse. As I crossed out the word only and looked at the security (all volunteer college boys) I politely asked if media could enter a different way than all the other photographers. Of course, he opened the gates and I was in. As I stood there in fear that I would get kicked out of the pit, or worse the festival, Melanie finally came out. During my journey to the pit I noticed a pink crib being rolled out onto the stage. It matched the oversized teddy bear's, building block, and bottles. When her set time rolled around she was no where to be found. The clock kept ticking 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 8 minutes.... Then finally the pink crib began to rock and with one kick of the drum, there she was. Quite possibly the cutest human in the world appeared. She started her set out with Cry Baby. As she began to sing each and every person in the audience did as well. Over 90% of the crowd was full of die hard Melanie fans. With each dance move, the crowd mimicked her. Melanie earned each and every one of those fans by putting everything she has into her music. She has embodied the persona of an adult baby... and she does it well. I kinda kept it a secrete that I loved Melanie because of her heavy pop sound but after her set, I don't care who knows. She is not only entreating in her frilly socks and bloomers but she also becomes the person she is singing about. Whether that be, a psychopath or a lost baby. Safe to say, she was one of the highlights of the day. Her debut album Cry Baby is available now.
GROUPLOVE: Despite Atlanta being not only my home but one of my favorite places in the world, the weather is unpredictable to say the least. This day was no exception. In the time that passed between Melanie and GROUPLOVE we had to evacuate the festival. Which isn't ideal to people who have been waiting at the front of a stage for 6+ hours. After what seemed like days (and hour and 1/2) we got to re-enter. The flood gates were truly opened as people ran eagerly to get their spots back. As my friends took off I ran slowly behind, trying to keep my camera safe. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. As I slowly made my way back I got tacked by a man who might have been slightly smaller than John Cena. As I laid on the ground contemplating if my minor concussion was worth it, I finally got up after seeing the literal stars you see in cartoons after Wylie Coyote gets and anvil dropped on his head. I made my way back to the stage and waited for GROUPLOVE. The crowd seemed to multiply 10X it's size before GROUPLOVE came on. When they entered the stage you could feel the earth rumble. Each and every person was excited to see them and they were no different. The band's electric energy translated to the soggy crowd. The familiar clapping sound started playing as the opened with Itchin on a Photograph. Each person in the audience screamed the lyrics, "Feel the rain come down and you know now..." I truly cannot put into words how electric GROUPLOVE is. Every single on of their songs is happy and can be screamed at the top of your lungs. LadyGrouplove and her husband (Yes, they are married and have a baby) put on one of the best shows I've ever seen, much less at a festival. These two translate the love they have for one another into their mesmerizing performance. With each hit of the drum, the crowd shook their wet hair in true ecstasy. Check out GROUPLOVE's newest album that came out this September, Big Mess.
Kesha: Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for. I thought when we arrived at 10 AM that we would be the first in line for the Kesha set. Apparently 2000 people had the same idea. This set was a huge deal to me because not only is Kesha a female icon but I have been obsessed with her since I was in middle school. Especially now, more than ever because of her ongoing struggle with Dr. Luke. As it got later and later each member of the ever growing crowd got more and more anxious for her set. As it neared 8 the stage was set with colorful streamers. The lights them dimmed 5 men in bolo ties walked onto the stage. These western men with mustaches are The Creepies. Ever since the battle with Dr. Luke, Kesha is not allowed to release any new music. So, she took the matter into her own hands and created a new band, Kesha and The Creepies. As an organ began to play, one of the Creepies introduces Kesha as "Hell's prettiest angel, Kesha". Then like magic she entered. The crowd erupted in blood curdling screams, and I was no different. The goddess herself began her set with a rock version of "We R Who We R". Like I said above, Kesha is not allowed to release any new music so she put a twist on all her pop hits and changed them into hard-core rock ballads. Each one of her classic hits became a mash up of rock and experimental pop. This set truly blew me away. She exudes this beautiful confidence while putting her heart and soul into each lyric. Not only is she amazing but so are her Creepies. They were a show all on their own. Theses guys would put on dinosaur heads and dance in synchronized rhythm with Kesha during her hit song Dinosaur. They would also willingly participate as Kesha threw them on the ground to kiss/ kill them. During the song Cannibal she drags one of The Creepies to the ground then rips out his heart, which of course is full of glitter. As the set went on she spoke about her never ending battle with Dr. Luke, explaining that she is not allowed to release new music but she can do covers. The crowd could see her heart was aching as she played Dolly Parton's Jolene. After that she did cover of "You don't Own me" by Grace. She began to say, "This song says everything I couldn't". Kesha puts her whole self into her music. Her set made us dance and cry but it was by far the coolest festival set I have ever seen. Kesha has reinvented herself into a beautiful strong rock and roll woman. If you have a chance to see Kesha and The Creepies on their fall tour, TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY. Noisey recently did an article about how a Kesha show will change your life. And it does.
CHEURB: TABERNACLE- SEPTEMBER 24TH
By: Madison Sharp
Let me preface this by saying it will be bias because of how much I love these guys.
NEW ALBUM OUT TOMORROW HERE
Firstly, if you don't know who Cherub is they are a musical duo out of Nashville. The duo consists of two great guys, Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber. If none of this sounds familiar turn on their #1 single Doses and Mimosas and I think it will jog your memory. Ever since the band's start in 2010 they have exploded. Going on tour after tour for years. They have played festivals such as Bonnaroo, Atlanta's own Shaky Beats, and the upcoming Austin EDM festival Euphoria. They have paved the way in electric synth-alternative. With a sound that is truly their own.
Recently I had the pleasure of attending my third Cherub show in my hometown, Atlanta. On September 24, they made their stop at the Tabernacle. The band has been traveling non stop promoting their new album: Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence. As the day of their show approached a group of friends and I arrived at The Tabernacle at 12 noon. I label myself as the biggest Cherub fan there is but, I got 7 of my friends hooked as well. As we sat for the next 8 hours Jason greeted us. (Not only are these guys unbelievably talented but they are also very sweet) He thanked us for waiting so long and he did remember me from Shaky Beats. As time was getting closer I grew more afraid that I would not be able to take pictures of my favorite people. Disclaimer: Dealing with press at the Tabernacle always sucks. But of course, Jason to the rescue. He called multiple people and everything eventually worked out so that I could be front and center with all my friends and take photos of my favorite duo.
As the show began, two acts came on before Cherub, Boo seeka and Frenship. Boo Seeka, the Australian duo came out and got more of the EDM crowd started up. Next was Frenship (Yes, I am spelling it correctly). They were wonderful as well, and got the crowd dancing to more lyrical music. These two acts prefaced Cherub perfectly. The DJ side got the crowd excited for Jason while the more lyrical side of Frenship got everyone ready for lead vocalist Jordan.
Then the heavens opened up, and Cherub came on stage. It's crazy to me that no matter if Cherub is playing a music festival or a smaller venue each show is very intimate and personal. As they picked up their guitars they began to play Disco Shit. Which of course is an old favorite off of their 2014 album, Year of the Caprese. Then they went into more smash hits like Work the Middle and Hold Me.
Throughout their set they played songs off of their upcoming October album Bleed Gold, Piss Excellence. Their title track off the album mixes the same familiar synth pop sound with a touch of 70s.
"Verses don't matter. You don't matter either and I matter either so what's the point?"
I know at this point you are probably sick of my track by track review but I'm writing this looking at the setlist in awe. After BGPE they picked up with some of their old favorites such as Chcolate Strawberries, Monogamy, Freaky Me Freaky You,and Best Friend's T- Shirt. They then previewed a few more new ones such as All For You, Sensation, and Very Rare. The guys even surprised us by playing their brand new single Signs ft: TI. Being and Atlanta native, you know that TI will show up at any concert if it's on his home turf. Unfortunately, he was playing a show in Augusta that night. But, that didn't stop Cherub from unleashing their new single Signs. Cherub songs are famous for making you want to get up and move but Signs literally pulls you off the couch.
"You say that you're a Gemini? And that's a perfect match for me."
As the show drew closer to a close I could already feel the post concert depression kicking in. This was helped a little by Jordan giving me the setlist before the show was over and a nice shoutout (A personal thank you to him. It got the annoying chipmunk girls behind us to shut-up). The night ended with Doses and Mimosas. As the crowd was rushed out of the venue- AGAIN: SHOUT OUT TABERNACLE. We made our way out to the buses to see them and hopefully get backstage. As our luck would have it the backstage was totally full of out of town family of the guys. But, Jordan greeted me outside with a familiar hello and a trip inside their tour bus.
If I haven't praised them enough, Cherub is one of the most fun bands out there. They put on a show unlike any other. That can only be described as a sweaty disco tech with a modern twist (In a wonderful way). Cherub is currently on tour promoting their new album, out October 14th.
In conclusion, I know i've rambled on gushing about how much I love these guys but I have a feeling you will too. If you take anything away from these 1000 words take away this: A Cherub show will be the peak of your existence. Every other moment from then on will pale in comparison to this. But in all honesty, a Cherub show will make you smile. This concert is a beautiful escape from whatever real life throws at you. Cherub truly inspires each person to forget whatever is bringing you down. Thank you Jordan. Thank you Jason. You truly are Cherubs.