Music Midtown, the beloved music festival that takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, was scheduled to take place in September. “Due to circumstances beyond our control, Music Midtown will no longer be taking place this year,” the festival announced on socials. “We were looking forward to reuniting in September and hope we can all get back to enjoying the festival together again soon.” The festival, which was scheduled to take place Sept. 17-18 at Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, was slated to have My Chemical Romance, Future, Jack White and Fall Out Boy as headliners. As reported by Billboard, the cancelation was most likely due to a change in the state’s gun laws that prevent the festival from banning weapons on public property.
Atlanta-based reporter George Chidi first raised the flag that Music Midtown may be forced to address Georgia’s gun laws that prevent them from enforcing a gun ban in Piedmont Park where the festival has been held since 2011. The state has had lax gun laws for some time, and Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill in April that allowed Georgia gun owners to carry a concealed handgun in public without a permit. Before the bill, gun owners had to file an application, which included a $75 fee and a background check. Shortly after the change, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which is located in Piedmont Park, won an eight-year court battle that allowed them to ban guns on their property. As reported by the Saporta Report, the garden’s victory “could open the gates to legal challenges against other privately run institutions that lease parkland around the city and state.” Music Midtown leases the parkland and therefore cannot operate as private property, so they must allow weapons in the festival, or else they are unable to operate. As Chidi noted, most artists require in their contracts that weapons not be present. The festival would only be allowed to enforce the ban if it had a lease that granted “estate for years.” Music Midtown only has a short-term lease.
Georgia-based gun rights activist Phillip Evans, who filed and lost the suit against the Botanical Gardens, wrote on his blog that he contacted Live Nation president Peter Conlon and explained that the ban is impossible to enforce. Evans also posted on Music Midtown’s Facebook page, encouraging concerned ticketholders to file a lawsuit against Live Nation “for their stated intent to infringe upon your rights.” Evans further says that other venues in the state work with the laws and only ban “illegal weapons,” citing Mable House Barne Amphitheater as a place where he was able to open-carry.
There is no word yet on how this decision will impact the state’s other music festivals, which are also held on public property.
Paste has reached out to Atlanta’s ONE Music Festival and Shaky Knees Music Festival for comment on how this recent decision can impact future festivals held in Georgia’s public parks. Paste has also reached out to Live Nation for further comment.