The hot ticket in D.C. this weekend doesn't cost concertgoers a dime.
The Virgin Mobile FreeFest, the megafestival brought to the area in 2006 by Virgin Mobile and Bethesda-based I.M.P, boasts a bill that includes Jack White, ZZ Top, Skrillex, M83, Nas, Alabama Shakes, Justin Jones and Portugal. The Man -- and that's just for starters. Attendance is free -- even service charges are waived -- but donations and other charitable contributions are encouraged.
"It's great," said John Gourley, founder and frontman of Portugal. The Man, who said he would enjoy the event as both a performer and music fan. "I saw Jack White play a secret show, and it was really good. It'll be great to see him there. People like him are so rare; he's a total rock star!"
The festival was launched in 2006 and has generated incredible enthusiasm among music lovers. Reports noted that the initial round of tickets to this year's FreeFest were snapped up in minutes. As were the slots to play at the event, which draws crowds of 50,000-plus.
|Virgin Mobile FreeFest|
|When: Doors 11 a.m. Saturday|
|Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia|
|Details: General admission free'd out, but tickets available with donation; ticketfly.com; 877-4-FLY-TIX (359-849)|
"After three years of crazy press and feedback, bands start to line up early to be on the 'It-List,' " said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. and producer of the FreeFest, in a statement. "Fortunately, since the tickets go in minutes, we can wait until much later than most festivals to book the absolute best stories of the moment."
This year's festival will include two main stages and a "Dance Forest" to give musicians of all formats plenty of space and time to open up their sound.
Though admittance to the FreeFest is, well, free, fans are encouraged to make a donation to RE*Generation, Virgin Mobile's initiative to end youth homelessness. Proceeds raised to date built Virgin Mobile's new RE*Generation House, a homeless youth shelterin D.C. This year's donations will open the house and provide support to homeless youth.
Gourley sees plenty of lineups as he tours with his band but remarked that this one is extraordinary. In fact, he expects few entertainers will stay backstage during others' sets, preferring instead to mingle with the crowd.
"We have played a lot of shows this summer and we've been going wherever the set takes us," said Gourley, whose band is taking a break from recording its new record to perform. "Our job is to put on the best show that we can for this crowd."