Hometown rapper Ludarcis set the stage for headliners Pearl Jam on Saturday.
ATLANTA — Pearl Jam may — rightfully — lay claim to the title America’s most beloved band, but at Music Midtown 2012, it was Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters who rocked Piedmont Park the hardest.
The Foos, playing their own hits — “Best of You,” “All My Life,” “The Pretender,” “My Hero” and current hit “These Days,” which Grohl said was the best he’s ever written — remarkably well, mixed in a little Van Halen, Pink Floyd and Tom Petty to the delight of the tens of thousands whose energy level matched that of the band.
“They told us we could only play for two hours; we usually do two and a half or three,” Grohl said from the stage, then, after drawing a rousing ovation for Petty’s “Breakdown,” added, “If we start playing cover songs, we’ll be up here for six hours. We’re really just a cover band.”
One of the biggest treats of the festival came when Grohl invited veteran rocker Joan Jett — “One of my heroes,” he said — onstage to perform “Bad Reputation” with the band.
Pearl Jam, which drew a massive crowd as Saturday’s headliner at the two-day festival, had sound problems throughout the evening that washed some of the enthusiasm out of the huge crowd, which brought the band to the stage with cries of “PEARL! ... JAM!” The anticipation was palpable, but it waned somewhat as the sound quality faded in and out throughout the set.
The most welcome return of the festival was that of Garbage as Shirley Manson, Butch Vig and the boys, back together after five years of inactivity, proved the long layoff had not left them rusty. “Your emails and letters and your support has been lovely,” Manson told the crowd.
The force of nature that is Florence Welch was in evidence as Florence + the Machine wowed the crowd with a rousing set, even after a less than promising start.
Welch spoke into a dead microphone as she made a grand entrance onto the stage to thunderous applause, then she and the band missed cues that led her to “rewind” and re-enter.
“I’m so sorry,” Welch said. “We’ll get this right, I promise.”
And they did.
Rapper Ludacris was another favorite of the hometown crowd, and his high-energy performance set the stage Saturday for Florence and Pearl Jam. Also drawing rave reviews from the crowds were TI, the Avett Brothers, Neon Trees and still entertaining veteran rocker Adam Ant.
The move from Atlanta’s true midtown district to Piedmont Park was well-received, but a strictly enforced noise ordinance in the city forced organizers to plan for music to end at 11 p.m.
“We know they’re limiting the time we can play, but we’re going to give you every second that we have,” Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder said.
A perfect ending to a perfect weekend of music.