Another prominent music festival has bitten the dust: Virgin Mobile FreeFest will not take place in 2014, festival promoters announced on Tuesday. A staple in the Washington, DC-Baltimore metropolitan area music scene since 2006, the festival was originally known as Virgin Music Festival before rebranding itself as Virgin Mobile FreeFest in 2009.
The last five installments were held at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, and each festival was free to attend contingent on attendees completing charitable tasks in their community. VIP tickets were also available to purchase, with proceeds donated to the RE*Generation House homeless youth shelter in Washington, D.C.
Organizers did not give a reason for its cancelation, though Virgin founder Richard Branson previously expressed the financial challenges associated with a free event. “We’d like to continue to do it for free because it fits the spirit of the brand,” Branson explained to the Baltimore Sun in 2012. “But if the money men at Virgin say, ‘Look, we did it for free while the public was struggling but now people are getting back on their feet, so maybe we should charge them,’ we’d have to think about it.”
Over the years, Virgin Mobile FreeFest has welcomed such acts as Jack White, LCD Soundystem, Pavement, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend, M83, TV on the Radio, MGMT, and St. Vincent. During its existence as the pay-to-attend Virgin Festival, the lineups boasted The Police, Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, and more.
Asked if Virgin could return in 2015, Merriweather Post Pavilion operator Seth Hurwitz remained uncommitted. “Unfortunately, the pieces are not all there right now with Virgin,” he explained to the Baltimore Sun. “Whether they are again, who knows.”