The Virgin Mobile Festivals has been remade into the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, a one day event on August 30 that will feature the reunited Blink-182, Weezer, Public Enemy and Taking Back Sunday. In previous years, the festival had been held at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore (site of the annual Preakness Stakes horse race), but this year's moves to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. The show will be free to the 35,000 people who want to claim tickets (Ticketmaster has even agreed to waive their service fee for fans picking them up at the venue or at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.). The event will be paid for by Virgin and key sponsors, like Kyocera.
This isn't the first time an established festival has gone from costly to free. Ozzfest famously gave away its touring show in 2007, which was panned for having a lackluster lineup (Ozzy, Lamb of God and Static-X were headliners) and trouble with ticket distribution. Virgin Mobile FreeFest likely won't have the same sort of problems, as it's a one-day event featuring one of the hottest reunion acts of the summer. The new venue is a step up as well, as Pimilico was a terrible facility that usually turned into a mud pit at the very suggestion of rain.
There was a lot of hand-wringing about the festival season this year, as promoters were worried that fans wouldn't have enough disposable income to invest in tickets and travel, but so far the big-name events like Bonnaroo and Coachella have still done good business. That's not to say that everything has gone off without a hitch, as smaller local festivals have seen sluggish sales.
Tickets will be available this Saturday (though if you went to last year's festival, you've got the opportunity to claim a ticket starting tomorrow). Virgin shouldn't have any trouble filling the building, especially considering the lineup is so eclectic (with indie favorites like the National and St. Vincent filling out the lineup that also features rapper Wale and legendary DJ Pete Tong).