Whereas other North American music festivals have been adversely affected by the harsh economic times, the east coast extravaganza formerly known as Virgin Fest has all but excelled. In 2009, the festival revamped from a two-day event that had brought the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Police to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD into a one-day free for all at Columbia, Maryland’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. For the price of absolutely nothing, attendees were presented with the opportunity to catch Blink-182, Weezer, Public Enemy, and more.
On Saturday, September 25th, the Virgin Mobile FreeFest returns, this time with a lineup that crosses indie, hip-hop, and dance boundaries. The much controversial M.I.A., NYC alt-dance outfit LCD Soundsystem, and recently reunited indie legends Pavement will headline this year’s festivities.
Also on the 2010 bill are the recently freed T.I., Ludacris, Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Jimmy Eat World, Yeasayer, The Temper Trap, Matt & Kim, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes.
In addition to two main stages, this year’s festival will also feature a “dance forest,” which will feature the talents of Chromeo, Sleigh Bells, Die Antwoord, Modeselektor, and Neon Indian. What’s more, New Orleans based Trombone Shorty will lead a special second line march from stage to stage.
Free tickets to the free festival will be available starting Saturday, July 24th at 10 AM EST via Ticketfly.com. Virgin Mobile customers and previous Virgin Mobile Festival ticket holders from the past four years will be invited via text and email to a private “free-sale” (much like a pre-sale, except free) to be held Friday, July 23rd.
Ticketfly is waiving all service charges when fans pick up their FreeFest tickets at Merriweather or the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. or print the tickets at home. Customers also have the option to have their tickets delivered by mail for a nominal fee.
Also available will be premium tickets, which provides Pavilion seating, with a portion of the ticket price going to support homeless youth charities.
“Because we have the luxury of giving away the tickets it becomes a privilege to book the most important acts out there,” said chairman of I.M.P. and Virgin Mobile FreeFest concert producer Seth Hurwitz. “Our goal is simply to book the coolest bands we can. This year we’re breaking with the traditional format of monster headliner trickling down to baby bands, and instead we’re sprinkling fantastic acts all day long. It’s kind of like a festival on full-day shuffle.”
“Last year’s free festival was all about giving back to fans in the wake of a horrible economy,” explained Ron Faris, director of brand experiences, Virgin Mobile USA. “This year’s festival will focus even more on charitable giving. It’s a reminder to let people know that even as things are improving, there’s always someone out there less fortunate than you. Last year, we raised over $80,000 and generated 30,000 hours of volunteerism for youth homelessness. This year, together with the fans, we hope to do even better.”
Today’s announcement was made by Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, on Virgin Mobile Live, the company’s new Internet music stream available on Virgin Mobile websites.