Atlanta Music Scene

Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta’s vibrant and evolving music scene. From hot new artists to Music Midtown to shows at the Tabernacle, she’s got you covered.

Music Midtown 2016: 8 artists to catch at festival this weekend

Whether your musical interests fall in the pounding electronic beats of Deadmau5 or the rootsy yowls of Alabama Shakes, the 2016 installment of Music Midtown should at least pique your curiosity.

The two-day festival returns for its sixth year Sept. 17-18 with a spread of three dozen acts performing on four stages staggered across Piedmont Park.

While the lineup deliberately skews younger this year — Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, which produces the event, believes the 17-34 demographic is the one most likely to engage in a festival environment — there is a diverse array of acts ranging from Twenty One Pilots to Pete Yorn to Daya to G-Eazy.

Here is a look at a quarter of the performers worth checking out (click here for the full schedule) .

DNCE (3:30 p.m. Sept. 17): The fizzy pop quartet fronted by Joe Jonas (of Jonas Brothers fame) was inescapable on radio the past year with its platinum-selling debut hit, the nonsensical “Cake by the Ocean.” On stage, the band is spirited and goofy, unfurling dizzying pop tunes such as “Toothbrush” and “Pay My Rent” from its 2015 EP, “Swaay,” as well as funky covers of Prince and James Brown. They’re completely mindless fun.

Logic (4:30 p.m. Sept. 17): The Maryland-bred rapper is prolific and supple, beginning his career as a teenager in 2009 (he’s currently 26) with a couple of mixtapes. After his fourth mixtape, “Young Sinatra: Welcome to Forever,” arrived in 2013, he landed a major label deal and dropped his Def Jam Recordings debut, “Under Pressure,” in 2014. A second album, “The Incredible True Story,” arrived last fall and has sold nearly 200,000, while this summer brought Logic’s fifth mixtape, “Bobby Tarantino.”

Leon Bridges (5:30 p.m. Sept. 17): Though born in Atlanta, the burgeoning soul singer was reared in Texas, where he honed his guitar skills at open-mic nights. His debut album, “Coming Home,” arrived last summer, and Bridges gained some additional exposure with his presence on the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis song “Kevin.” Earlier this year at the MusiCares benefit for Lionel Richie, Bridges, 27, said on the red carpet that he was trying to grow as a performer and wanted to “add more songs and think about transitions” in his live presentation.

Big Boi (6:30 p.m. Sept. 17): An Atlanta institution, Big Boi has a busy month in his hometown. He was slated to appear at One Musicfest on Sept. 10 as part of a reunion of the Dungeon Family collective that cemented Atlanta as a hip-hop epicenter in the ‘90s; and then comes his Music Midtown performance, his first solo shot since the fest’s return this decade. Last year, he released “Big Grams,” the self-titled debut album spawned by his collaboration with electronic rock duo Phantogram.

Corinne Bailey Rae (3:30 p.m. Sept. 18): The British R&B/soul/jazz singer broke through in a major way a decade ago with the blissfully original “Put Your Records On.” An immediate sensation in the U.S., Rae was nominated for three Grammys following her debut, but wouldn’t win one until 2008 for her contribution to “River: The Joni Letters,” which scored album of the year honors. After taking time to grieve the 2008 death of her husband, Rae regrouped personally (she remarried in 2013) and professionally. In May, she released her third studio album, the groove-oriented “The Heart Speaks in Whispers.”

Raury (5:45 p.m. Sept. 18): If you’ve never experienced a live Raury performance, think of him a bit like a male Janelle Monae. If you’ve never experienced Monae live, well, then, we’re sorry. Raury (born Raury Deshawn Tullis) is only 20, but he has the soul of a wizened sage. He’s nearly a bigger star in the U.K. than he is in his home country with hi s intoxicating brew of soul, hip-hop and funk, but the release of his debut studio album, “All We Need” with the song “Crystal Express” (used in the video game “FIFA 16”), should fix that.

Kesha (6:45 p.m. Sept. 18): It’s almost difficult to remember when Kesha was commanding Top 40 radio with a string of pop hits such as “Tik Tok,” “Die Young” and “We R Who We R,” because of the legal drama with former producer Dr. Luke that has suffocated her career. But with her May appearance at the Billboard Music Awards, she appeared intent on a rebirth, toning down the kooky outfits and persona of a few years ago and allowing the spotlight to fall on her underrated vocals.

The Killers (8:30 p.m. Sept. 18): Along with Beck, the Las Vegas pop-rockers are the elder statesmen of this year’s decidedly youth-oriented Music Midtown. The Killers last played Atlanta in 2013, with a sleek set that incorporated their early aughts favorites “Somebody Told Me” and “Mr. Brightside” with later-decade hits “Spaceman” and “Human.” The band is working on a new album — Elton John reportedly wrote some material with singer Brandon Flowers — which will mark their first new release since 2012.


Music Midtown

Sept. 17-18 (gates open at noon each day).$135 for two-day general admision tickets. VIP tickets are $600 and Super VIP $1,200. Tickets can be purchased at or Piedmont Park, 1071 Piedmont Ave., Atlanta. w


Music Midtown 2016 app available for download

Music Midtown 2016 schedule announced

Music Midtown 2016 lineup

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About the Author

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta Music Scene and entertainment news for print and online.