Old Main Music Festival resurrects with sold-out Mt. Joy performance

Mt. Joy frontman Matt Quinn sings onstage at the Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall for the 2021 Old Main Music Festival.

On April 10, Mississippi State University's Music Maker Productions (MMP) hosted the Old Main Music Festival. The festival, usually hosted at Old Main Amphitheater, was planned to be at the Swamp Parking Lot. Due to inclement weather, it ended up being moved to Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall.

Students scrambled to reserve tickets to attend the concert as there was a limited amount of passes. The concert was free to attend. Originally, it was meant to be a drive-in concert due to COVID-19 restrictions. All 220 car passes sold out within a few days, and attendance was still high even when the event was moved.
 
The bands that played were Hello Forever and Mt. Joy. Hello Forever was the opener, and Mt. Joy was the long-awaited main event.
 
Christopher Hawkins, assistant director for student activities and advisor for MMP, expressed his excitement prior to the event.
 
"Get ready for live music, good times, safe environment and overall fun," Hawkins said. "It's our first big show in over a year. The last one was in fall 2019."
 
MMP is known for bringing live entertainment to campus. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it has been difficult to plan fun activities. This year, MMP did the best with what they had. Some of the COVID-19-safe events they hosted include Battle of the Bands, a showing of Beyonce's documentary "Homecoming" and a virtual Q&A with artist Waka Flocka Flame.
 
"This year we got creative because we haven't gotten to do too many concerts," Hawkins said.
 
MMP hoped to have a good turnout, and their hopes were more than exceeded. The quick sell-out was extremely encouraging. The concert was meant to be a light in the midst of finals preparations as students are getting close to their breaking points.
 
"One, if you like the artist you'll come. Two, if you like live music you'll come. Three, if you want a unique experience," Hawkins said. "It's the end of the school year so I think this is a great way to relax and have some fun. "
 
Attendance was fairly high. Many students who attended enjoyed their time immensely and expressed their hopes for other concerts like this one in the future.
 
Olivia Lumpkin, a freshman communication major at MSU, was one such student.
 
"It was super awesome to feel some sense of normalcy again, whenever we were in the crowd and we were singing," Lumpkin said. "You would stop singing and hear everyone else's voices. That was so cool to feel a crowd again."
 
MMP enforced COVID-19 restrictions. Every attendee was required to wear a mask. Students sat in pairs with pairs of empty chairs in between them. They were allowed to stand up, but were encouraged to stay in front of their designated seats.
 
"The event exceeded my expectations," Lumpkin said. "I am a huge Mt. Joy fan. There is nothing like getting to see your favorite band play your favorite songs live. It is such a surreal experience."
 
Along with being great entertainment, the concert was a good way for students to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
 
"It just felt so good to forget school and COVID for a while. It felt so good to be surrounded by other people," Lumpkin said.
 
Cy Powell, a freshman in building construction at MSU, also enjoyed his time at the concert.
 
"It was a really good stress reliever," Powell said. "I really needed that for the weekend."
 
The music festival also displayed a number of artists, vendors and creators. They were showcased on wide screens between set changes.
 
"I really did enjoy my time there, it was a good time," Powell said. "I have been wanting to see Mt. Joy for a good minute and they just blew me away. Mt. Joy is a great band."

Lumpkin said the adjustments the university had to make for the concert to be safe did not hinder her enjoyment of the show. 

"Overall the experience was really great," Lumpkin said. "I think that given COVID and everything that State did a really awesome job of making it feel as normal as possible. None of the quality of the show was skipped out on."

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