Atl music festival canceled over host Live Nation’s inability to ban guns: report

A potential court dispute over gun rights appears to have prompted the cancellation of a September music festival in Atlanta.

“Though festival organizers declined to comment on the reason they scrapped the event, multiple officials familiar with the cancellation said it stemmed from ongoing legal fallout of a permissive gun expansion that was signed into law in 2014,” the liberal Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

“The event’s organizers were concerned about a threat of a lawsuit from gun owners if they decided to hold the festival with firearms restrictions in place,” according to what two unnamed officials close to the situation supposedly told the news outlet.

In social media posts, Music Midtown gave the bad news about the Live Nation-promoted event to concert-goers:

“Hey Midtown fans — 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.”

Music Midtown added that refunds to ticketholders are in process. An estimated crowd of 50,000 purportedly attended the event last year

As alluded to above, according to Billboard, pro-gun groups had been hinting that they might consider hauling the festival, which has been running for nearly 30 years, including about the last 10 years from Piedmont Park, into court over a gun ban that event organizers already had in place.

Five years after Georgia enacted the Safe Carry Protection Act, the state supreme court issued a key ruling clarifying the law which apparently has impacted Music Midtown scheduled for September 17-18 in city-owned Piedmont Park in the downtown Atlanta vicinity, Billboard explained:

As part of the 2019 ruling, Georgia’s high court set a test for how the Safe Carry Protection Act was to be enforced by private businesses using public land. Businesses and groups that held certain types of long-term leases for state-owned land could legally bar guns, while businesses with shorter term leases could not. While the ruling favored the [Atlanta] Botanical Garden, it created legal issues for festivals like Music Midtown that held short term leases for city parks sites….

While the 2019 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court made it more difficult for private companies to deny licensed and armed citizens access to events on publicly owned land, it did not give the city of Atlanta the authority to enforce this decision or force the festival to allow guns into the event. Instead the law created a pathway for gun carrying individuals, who had also purchased tickets to the festival, to successfully sue event organizers if they were denied entry to an event taking place on public property. 


Fox News reports that certain musicians insist on a contract provision that they won’t perform at any location that permits firearms.

“Music Midtown has banned weapons ‘of any kind’ from being brought into the festival, and some artist riders stipulate specific language including non-performance clauses if local laws allow attendees to bring firearms into the venue,” the network reported. “It’s unclear when or if LiveNation plans to move the event to a privately owned venue.”

North Carolina Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper took to Twitter on Tuesday, however, to say that he would welcome Music Midtown to his state.

Immediately politicizing the situation, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams blamed the cancellation and the associated loss of revenue on incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp (although the former seemed far less concerned about the massive income shortfall, estimated in the $100-million range, when Major League Baseball moved  the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver after the state legislature approved voting reform).

GOP State Rep. Rick Jasperse, the 2014 law’s sponsor, countered that “those intent on ‘causing chaos and crime in Georgia’ won’t care if the festival bans firearms and would try to bring them in regardless. ‘Good Georgians who can qualify for a permit and carry a weapon do so to protect themselves from that element in our society,'” the Journal-Constitution reported.

Per Fox News, “The 2022 festival had plans to include more than 30 artists across four stages in the downtown park, with food trucks and interactive experiences including a Ferris Wheel.”

As of this writing, Live Nation has yet to respond to media inquiries about its cancellation decision. Gov. Kemp apparently has not commented either.

Watch a report aired by CBS46 Atlanta:

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