Best of the fests

7 essential late summer/fall musical blowouts

Music Midtown, the granddaddy of summer festivals, returns to Piedmont Park Sept. 16-17. Throngs of OTP party people descend upon the park to bask in mainstream pop hits. Larger-than-life stars Bruno Mars, Mumford & Sons, Future and Blink-182 fill the prime-time slots amid a weekend of performances by Lizzo, Hiss Golden Messenger, Tove Lo and more. PRO TIP: Don't miss Atlanta psych rock trio Midnight Larks' daytime set. $135-$1,750. Noon-11 p.m. Sat.-Sun., Sept. 16-17. Piedmont Park, 1320 Monroe Drive N.E. www.musicmidtown.com.

Dubbed "an Aquatic Fairytale," Imagine Music Festival (Sept. 22-24) is the premiere electronic dance music summer blowout. The homegrown fest curated by Madeleine and Glen Goodhand of Iris Presents and ESP 101 Learn to Believe bring three days of camping to the tune of artists such as Above & Beyond, Claude Vonstroke, STS9, Tiesto and dozens more spread across seven stages, pushing club beats and bass drops into the future. A fashion show, interactive art installations, circus acts, yoga and more are there to pique the mind and body. $199-$3,500. Fri.-Sun., Sept. 22-24. Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 Tara Place, Hampton. www.imaginefestival.com.

Slaughter-Que takes over the Masquerade for a day of meat and metal. Four stages host 20 bands and more than 500 pounds of barbecue. Baroness, Royal Thunder, Black Tusk, Legion X and Order of the Owl are just a handful of the bands staging the daylong blitzkrieg of thunderous decibels amid a full-on carnival featuring sword swallowing, fire breathing, contortionists, acrobatics, magicians and more bringing a touch of warped, old-school fun to Downtown. It's an all-ages party, too. Bring grandma and the kiddies for a walk on the wild side. $30. Noon. Sat., Sept. 23. Masquerade, 75 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive S.W. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.

Hip-hop's biggest stage, the 13th annual A3C Music Festival & Conference returns Oct. 4-8. The conference brings artists and entrepreneurs together in GSU's Loudermilk Center, Creative Media Industries Institute and Auburn Avenue Research Library. Throughout the week, industry professionals discuss everything from social media strategies to issues affecting women in the music field. The emphasis is on empowering artists, and culminates in the Creator Complex with artist/producer listening sessions, a talk with A-Track of Fools Good, and criticism from Sony Records signee Kodie Shane. Oct. 7-8, A3C takes over the Georgia Freight Depot with performances from Nas, Ghostface Killah and more. $39-$485. Wed.-Sun., Oct. 4-8. See website for times and schedule info. www.a3cfestival.com.

The Wire & Wood Songwriters Festival returns to downtown Alpharetta Oct. 6-7, bringing performances by Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, Randall Bramblett, Michelle Malone, Eliot Bronson, Alex Guthrie and more. Free. Fri., Oct. 6, 6-8 p.m. at Avalon and 7-10 p.m. in Downtown Alpharetta; $40-$45. Sat., Oct. 7, 5-10:30 p.m. in Downtown Alpharetta 5-10:30 p.m. www.wireandwoodalpharetta.com.

Iggy Pop, the original streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm, lays waste to the East Atlanta Village when Project Pabst returns Sat., Oct. 7. The godfather of punk has danced on the bleeding edge of American turmoil since the arrival of the Stooges 1969 debut. His shirtless, wild-man presence remains unstoppable, all the way through his 2016 David Bowie tribute, Post Pop Depression. Dinosaur Jr., the Internet, Peaches, Watch the Duck, Coathangers, Goldyard and more fill out this stellar lineup. $45. 1 p.m. Sat., Oct. 7. Flat Shoals and Metropolitan avenues. atlanta.projectpabst.com.

Afropunk Atlanta returns Oct. 14-15 with another round of Afrocentric community building, and the most diverse cultural and musical lineup the city's festival circuit has seen. This year's festival boasts performances by Solange, Willow Smith, Danny Brown, Tricky, Algiers, Mykki Blanco and more. $45-$80. Sat.-Sun., Oct. 14-15. 787 Windsor, 787 Windsor St. S.W. www.afropunkfest.com/atlanta.

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