Virgin Mobile Free Fest

LIVE: 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest @ Merriweather Post Pavilion - 10/6/12

All photos by Paul B Jones ( / /

It was a perfect October day for a near-perfect festival. And much as the sun shone brightly before storm clouds threatened (but in the end only brought relief and an autumn crisp), the difference between a good set and a great one was, more often than not, a mere matter of luck: getting a good spot, being at the right place at the right time, finding warmth amid the chill, knowing some limits, and holding onto the light, lest ALL be swallowed by darkness!

Pulling up to Columbia MD’s tailgate-friendly Merriweather Post Pavilion is generally fine times and smooth sailing, and on this beautiful day, parking was no exception. Despite tens of thousands of concertgoers filing in for Saturday’s all-day 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest -- over 30,000 officially reported, though some suspect well over last year’s 50,000 mark -- all went without hiccups. Overflow traffic was directed clearly from the main lot (South Entrance) to a free North Entrance garage, and wouldn’t you know, the detours and concrete enclosures didn’t appear to deter the tailgaters’ pregaming in the slightest?

Just beyond the North Entrance was the eternal boom of the Dance Forest. Lucky last-minute addition, D.C. hometown boys VOLTA BUREAU, were warming up the festival crowd with some serious dance tunes. U Street Music Hall co-founder and longtime pillar and champion of the District’s dance music community, Will Eastman, and his Volta Bureau bandmate, vocalist/DJ/producer Bernard Farley, a.k.a. Outputmessage, were both on the decks, spreading good vibes with great sound; crowds of gathering revelers shook it among the stately trees, and with plenty of space to spare. Between one another, Eastman and Farley toggled mixer channels; disco house, breakbeats and progressive; and DJing skills with a side of audience interaction -- most notably in the form of a smiling Eastman batting beach balls into the crowd, dousing dancers with water, sharing stickers, singing, clapping, and showing love for D.C. and FreeFest, all while Farley deftly manned the mix. In a day chock full of talent, such exchanges were the key to crafting a memorable performance; Volta Bureau closed their set with chart-topping 2011 favorite “Alley Cat” and should be credited for nothing short of saving the day after DAS RACIST’s strep-induced last-second cancellation.

THIS JUST IN: Virgin Fest Announces 2012 Lineup!!

The time for guessing is OVER. This morning via twitter, the good folks behind the Virgin Mobile Freefest released this years lineup into the world and there was much rejoicing. 

As usual/expected, there's a little bit for everyone to see here, and with acts like Jack White, The Dismemberment Plan, Alabama Shakes and more on the bill, it's sure to be a day that we'll be talking about for a long time to come.

You can see the entire lineup HERE, and check out the full press release below to see how to score tickets to this epic event. Before that though, here's one of our favorite memories from Freefests of days gone by. We miss you LCD. Sniff

2012 Virgin Mobile Freefest Announced for OCTOBER 6 at Merriweather Post Pavilion

You knew it was coming, and now it's here. Each year this event gets better and better, and if our experience at last years Freefest is any indication, we are fully prepared to have our minds blown all over again out in the woods at Merriweather. Bonus: This year it takes place in ROCKTOBER, so be prepared boys and's gonna be a rager.

Check out the press release below.


Select Virgin Mobile followers on Twitter tapped to announce the line-up

WARREN, N.J. – Aug 2, 2012 -- 

 Virgin Mobile USA today made the long-anticipated announcement that Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by LG Mobile, the largest free festival of its kind in the world, will return to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., on Saturday, Oct. 6.

“For years, Virgin Mobile FreeFest has grown to become one of the cornerstone memories of summer,” said Ron Faris, head of Brand Marketing, Virgin Mobile USA. “And I’m proud to say that now more than ever, Virgin Mobile is steadfastly committed to our fans’ right to ‘FREE-dom,’ no matter what time of year.  I just can’t wait to see what our Dance Forest looks like in all that fall foliage.“

The line-up for the 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest, which will fill two Main Stages and the Dance Forest, will be announced soon. “Booking a free show for 50,000 people is the best. You get to simply pick who you think are the best acts and most interesting stories,” said I.M.P. chairman and concert producer Seth Hurwitz.

Followers will announce the line-up

Twitter Fans who follow Virgin Mobile Live (@virginmlive), Virgin’s culture and music feed, can be a part of the 2012 Virgin Mobile FreeFest line-up announcement by guessing which bands have been selected to appear at the festival. To enter, participants will need to follow @virginmlive on Twitter, add the official festival hashtag #VirginMobileFreeFest, and include their guess of which band will appear on the bill (also using a hashtag). Random winners will be contacted with further instructions to announce the lineup[1].  Naturally, fans featured in the announcement video will also win VIP tickets to the FreeFest.

Last year’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest line-up included The Black Keys, Deadmau5, Patti Smith, James Murphy, Cee Lo Green, Big Sean and a dozen more. Fans can sign up to receive this year’s news alerts and the chance to win tickets at Additionally, Virgin Mobile USA is proud to announce the return of its award-winning “Free.I.P.” program, an effort to reward fans with a premium experience at the sold-out festival for volunteering time at homeless youth shelters around the country. Details around that program will also be announced in the coming weeks. 

[1] Rules for the contest are available here

So there you have it folks. As soon as we know more, you'll know more, but until then it's safe to say that October 6th can't come soon enough.

Recap: 2011 Virgin Mobile Free Fest - It's all about the Deadmau5

The Virgin mobile Free Fest returned to Merriweather Post Pavilion for the 3rd time this year, and showed the world why it is quit simply one of the best festivals going today.  By freeing up the cost of entry and inviting a diverse group of musicians to come play, Richard Branson has created a musical playground where you’re always going to see and hear something that you might not have before.

This year it seemed the festival was all about one thing: Deadmau5. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a kid who was sporting a homemade version of Deadmau5’s iconic mouse ears, and you certainly couldn’t avoid the energy of the anticipation of his set. And while it’s unclear to me what all the hype is about, besides beats, lasers and copious drug use (wait…that sounds awesome actually), there can be no hating on the enthusiasm that Deadmau5 inspires in his followers. It’s a new scene and it will continue growing exponentially whether I come around to it or not.

And speaking of new scenes, while there was a designated “Dance Forest” again this year, electronic acts Cut Copy and Empire of the Sun managed to spill out of the Dance Forest and onto the West stage where they found a slightly greater level of mass appeal. It’s not necessarily our thing, but there’s no denying that the dance is here to stay, and by tapping into this specific zeitgeist, the organizers of the VMFF seemingly, at least this year, found a way to make the whole festival grounds feel like one giant unified party, instead of a giant demographically divided gathering.

But enough ramblings. Here are some of our highlights of the festival as we experienced it:

Daily Listen: Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Look. From time to time this is gonna happen. The last time it was because The Arcade Fire sort of broke our brains. This time it's because The Arcade Fire's fellow Polaris Prize nominee's Braids kept us up late with our brains spinning.

The upside to this is that I can tell you that Braids is absolutely the band you must see right now, especially if you are fans of Bjork, Kate Bush and/or Sigur Ros.

The downside is, well, you know.

We sincerely apologize for this, and promise to return you to the same awesome Daily Listen you've grown to love on Monday...unless Virgin Fest breaks us...which it might. 


The ChunkyGlasses Family

News: Virgin Mobile Freefest 2011 Announced for September 10th!!!

Kevin here. Sure, I know that this is all over the web by now, but here's the OFFICIAL press release for your perusal. The lineup looks pretty solid, and while we don't get LCD Soundsystem again, because nobody does, we do get a MINI LCD Soundsytem when James Murphy hits the dance tent solo!

Watch Sir Richard Branson and "friends" as they announce the lineup right here, then read on below for all the info you'll need to make sure you sweet ass is there at  Merriweather when this all goes down on September 10th!!

Virgin Mobile USA Announces Date and Lineup for 2011 Virgin Mobile FreeFest Presented by Kyocera
The Black Keys, Deadmau5, Cee Lo Green, Big Sean, TV on the Radio, and a dozen other of the year’s biggest stories take the stage Saturday, Sept. 10, at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Md.