Atlanta’s Music Midtown Canceled After Georgia Court Ruling Threatens the Festival’s Gun Ban
Organizers of the Atlanta festival Music Midtown has canceled this year’s event. Sources who worked for the festival confirmed to Billboard and Rolling Stone that the event was called off because recent developments with Georgia’s gun laws presented an obstacle to the festival banning guns at an event on government property. Pitchfork has reached out to the festival’s representatives for comment.
“Hey Midtown fans — due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year,” the festival’s statement reads. “We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.” Automatic refunds are being issued.
This year’s Music Midtown was set to take place from September 17-18 at Piedmont Park. My Chemical Romance, Jack White, Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski, Future, Phoenix, Fall Out Boy, Turnstile, Denzel Curry, Freddie Gibbs, 100 gecs, 2 Chainz, Tinashe, and others were set to perform.
The cancellation comes after Georgia gun rights advocates informally challenged Music Midtown’s on-site weapons ban. Phillip Evans, a pro-gun activist, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he contacted Live Nation with “legal concerns” about the festival’s ban. He cited a 2019 court ruling that determined that businesses and groups with long-term leases could legally prohibit weapons on public land.
The ruling presents the possibility that private businesses such as Live Nation with short-term lease agreements could not ban guns without opening themselves up to legal liability from anyone turned away for carrying a firearm. The last festival took place in September 2021, but challenges from local gun rights advocates picked up earlier this year.
Music Midtown is just one of several music festivals that take place in one of Atlanta’s public parks. Shaky Knees is set to return in May, with One MusicFest coming in October and SweetWater 420 due in the spring. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law in April allowing the concealed carry of handguns without a license.
Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman called today “a sad day” for the city. “Public policy has real impacts and in this case economic and social implications on a great tradition,” he posted on Twitter.