Party in the Park took over Centennial Olympic Park this Saturday, May 17th to a huge crowd of flower headband adorned teens, hipster parents with well-dressed hipster children and drunken college students alike. The weather had cleared up perfectly, amidst horrid rumors of yet another rained out outdoor Atlanta event.
Aside from an already impressive lineup featuring the likes of Girl Talk, MGMT, The Joy Formidable, Minus the Bear and Stokeswood, Party in the Park featured a food village including vendors from Chick-fil-A and Papa Johns and an exclusive tent by the Party in the Park sponsors, the one of a kind Desperados tequila flavored beer.
The Desperados Tent, conveniently located in an ideal concert viewing space, was open strictly to those over 21 years old and featured a graffiti artist and various acts throughout the night – including sword swallowers, acrobatic dancers, and hula-hoopers in full body makeup.
Desperados, the new beer by Heineken, is blended with tequila barrel-aged lager. This mixture tones down the bitterness typically associated with beer and adds a smooth, sweet flavor because of its spirits influence. Desperados is perfect for a night out with its unique style, taste and dynamic packaging.
The crowd was enjoying themselves laying in the grass, in the Desperados tent or just arriving during Stokeswood high energy, easy-listening set that suited the mood instilled by the beautiful weather and environment of Atlanta’s day long festival in the park.
Desperados in hand, I joined the crowd seated on the grass and waited for Minus the Bear to take the stage. The crowd welcomed the Seattle, Washington natives with loud cheers. Starting their set off with “Summer Angel” off their 2010 album, Omni, Minus the Bear brought loud energy and a twangy guitar sound to re-energize the crowd. Mid-guitar change, Jake Snider welcomes the crowd and tells us how excited he is to be back in Atlanta—with a few references to the legality of pot in Washington with answering whoops and cheers thrown in—and proceeds to play a crowd favorite off of their 2005 album, Menos El Oso, “The Fix.”
Dave Knudson brought an amazing energy whenever he took center stage with an equally incredible response from the crowd, especially during his guitar solo in “The Fix.”
Minus the Bear ended their set with “Pachuca Sunrise,” which Jake Snider delivered beautifully.
Hailing from North Wales, The Joy Formidable was next to take the stage. With Ritzy Bryan as lead vocals and guitar and Rhydian Dafydd as bass and backup vocals, the two create a powerful force of energy and put on a fervent performance. Matthew James Thomas intense drum-banging added to the loud punch the band brought on. Overall, the Joy Formidable put on a powerful punch, playing crowd favorites like “Maw Maw Song” and “Whirring” and got me even more pumped to see one of my favorites, MGMT.
MGMT’s performance was everything I expected it to be – trippy visuals, a seemingly half-lucid Andrew Vanwyngarden and a performance that was exuded then filtered through a kaleidoscope of whimsical talent. Whether you were standing in the middle of the crowd in right by the stage or lying on the hill faraway watching MGMT’s performance as the sun set, both experiences would have been equally blissful.
By the time “Kids” came on, I had gotten to the lying down part of the show. When the first few notes were played though and recognition swept the crowd, everyone around me ran towards the crowd because of how infectious the energy was.
One of my favorite parts of MGMT’s performance only lasted a few seconds, but its simplicity and beauty was mind blowing. While some of the band members were changing out their instruments, Vanwyngarden began strumming the chords on an acoustic guitar to Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Dream” and sang a few lines of the timeless song.
Last to take the stage was Gregg Michael Gillis, better known as Girl Talk –and I say that loosely, because Girl Talk as well as about 50 festival-goers all took the stage together. Girl Talk was hidden behind two inflatable sneakers and a huge table, but his energy was explosive as the stage was filled with guys and girls dancing. The entire crowd was dancing and jumping along to the entire set – his first in three years.
Aside from the rambunctious, and sometimes inappropriate, ramblings of the hype man, British Nick, Party in the Park was one of the first outdoor Atlanta event in a while to deliver on all fronts – good drinks, an excited crowd, beautiful weather and amazing music all day.