Virgin Mobile Festival Is Now A FreeFestBy Jeffrey Hyatt
Music fans feeling the sting of the global recession take heed: The folks at this year’s Virgin Mobile Festival have announced that this year’s event is free.
Score one for Richard Branson!
Organizers said 35,000 free tickets would be given away to the newly branded Virgin Mobile FreeFest, set for Aug. 30 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. Virgin Mobile customers and previous Virgin Mobile Festival ticket buyers will have the first crack at landing the tickets to the one-day concert.
“In a time of economic challenges and daily sacrifices, we wanted to throw a fantastic party so people could let loose and have a great time – on us,” Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group, said in a statement. “Virgin Mobile FreeFest offers music fans a brilliant day of fun and music and a chance for them to give back to those even less fortunate.”
Headliners include Weezer and Blink-182, with Franz Ferdinand, Public Enemy, Jet, Girl Talk, the Bravery, the Hold Steady, St. Vincent, and Taking Back Sunday among other acts scheduled to perform on the two main stages.
“The idea was to do something that nobody else is doing,” Seth Hurwitz, chairman of independent concert promoter I.M.P., told Billboard.com. “It really comes from a sincere desire to make people happy.”
There was talk that this year’s festival wouldn’t have the same line-up excitement as other big festivals, but free eases any gripes, I’m sure. Besides, nothing wrong with Public Enemy, The National, Girl Talk, The Bravery, The Hold Steady and a few choice others on the bill.
Tickets will be given away to the public through Ticketmaster starting at 10 a.m. EST on Saturday, June 27. Ticketmaster has joined in on the gratis style by waiving its convenience fees for concertgoers who pick up their tickets at the Merriweather Post Pavilion or the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
“We wanted to put something out there that would put a smile on people’s faces,” Virgin Mobile USA senior director of brand marketing and innovation Ron Faris told Billboard. “That was the genesis around why we did this.”
Tickets for last year’s Virgin Fest at Pimlico Race Course cost more than $100.
Don’t you think all summer music festivals should be free?