Atlanta, GA’s Music Midtown has called off its planned 2022 event originally set to take place at Piedmont Park on September 17th and 18th.
In a statement posted on the festival’s social media accounts on Wednesday, promoter Live Nation announced, “Due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year. We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.”
While the statement, which also detailed an automatic refund process for ticket-buyers, did not reference a reason for the event’s cancellation, various outlets have reported that the decision came down to a standstill with the state government surrounding gun laws. In short, as sources connected to the festival confirmed to Rolling Stone, Music Midtown organizers wanted to bar guns from the event, but since it was due to take place at a park—one of many public spaces in the state where people are allowed to carry guns—Live Nation, a temporary user of the space, did not have adequate standing to supersede that law with its own ban.
Local journalist George Chidi first called attention to the situation last Friday, writing on Twitter that organizers’ legal inability to bar guns from Music Midtown would directly conflict with the contractual requirements set by various artists on the bill.
Music Midtown is about to be cancelled. My understanding is that it is because Georgia’s gun laws make it impossible to bar firearms from Piedmont Park, a condition required by many artists’ concert riders. An announcement is coming, I am told by a reliable source.#gapol
— George Chidi — The Atlanta Objective (@neonflag) July 29, 2022
As Atlanta news outlet SaportaReport explained earlier this year, the festival’s attempted ban on weapons had been informally challenged in May by Phillip Evans, a gun rights advocate from Monroe County, by way of written complaints made to local courts. He had previously made a name for himself by challenging a similar weapons ban instated by the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2014. Despite the fact that the state had just enacted its so-called “guns everywhere” law explicitly allowing people in Georgia to carry guns in parks and other public spaces, the Georgia Supreme Court eventually ruled that because the Botanical Garden had a long-term lease on its space from the city, it was not technically public property and was therefore permitted to uphold its own gun rules on its grounds.
However, that ruling effectively ensured the opposite outcome for any similar case involving an event at the neighboring Piedmont Park, where promoters are only temporarily using the space and therefore can’t supersede existing gun laws. “The case wound its way through state courts, with a final ruling in 2019 by the Georgia Supreme Court,” Chidi noted in a report published on Friday. “The gardens were off-limits because it’s technically not public property … but the court essentially affirmed that the law would apply to Piedmont Park.”
“The most recent changes to Georgia’s gun laws, so-called ‘constitutional carry,‘” enacted by Governor Brian Kemp in April 2022, “add an additional dimension to the problem,” Chidi continued. “Metal detectors were used in 2021, despite the law. Today there’s a meaningful legal question about whether a metal detector could even be employed because a concealed carry permit is no longer required to keep a weapon in your purse or your pocket.”
Live Nation reportedly reached out to various potential alternate Music Midtown venues where private ownership would allow them to ban guns onsite, but was unable to find a suitable alternative in time to house the festival’s estimated 50,000 attendees next month. The promoter has yet to comment publicly on the role of the gun law issue in the cancellation of Music Midtown 2022.
The 2022 edition of the event was due to feature stars from a wide spectrum of genres and styles including early-’00s alt-rock heavyweights My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, prolific Atlanta trap hero Future, arena rocker Jack White, modern indie darling Phoebe Bridgers, French synth-pop staple Phoenix, and more.
The rest of the lineup was set to showcase a similar mix of alt-rock bands, popular rappers, and EDM tastemakers including Mitski, Freddie Gibbs, A Day To Remember, Louis The Child, Turnstile, 2 Chainz, Conan Gray, Quinn XCII, 100 Gecs, Keshi, Denzel Curry, Alec Benjamin, Marc Rebillet, Hippo Campus, Ashe, The Midnight, and more.
You can revisit the action from Music Midtown 2021 with Live For Live Music‘s photo coverage of the festival here.
This story is developing.
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