There are some changes this year for the 2009 Virgin Mobile Festival, to be held on August 30. First, it will be staged in a new venue at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD, albeit with a smaller capacity of 35,000. The 60,000-capacity venue used for the past three years, Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, is unavailable. Second, the festival will be entirely free for the first time.
Previous Virgin Mobile Festival ticket buyers and Virgin Mobile customers will have the first dibs on FreeFest ducats on Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. on June 27. They will be invited via e-mail to a private “free-sale” (much like a presale) to be held on June 25.
Ticketmaster is waiving the convenience charge when fans pick up their tickets at Merriweather or the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. Concertgoers also have the option to pay Ticketmaster to deliver their tickets.
“Taking care of our loyal customers comes first,” added Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P., promoter and producer of the Virgin Mobile Festival. “And when we say free, we mean it. The tickets are free. The parking is free. Ticketmaster really stepped up on this. Everybody just wants to make this the party of the summer. It’s gonna be nuts.”
There is also a free VIP section for concertgoers who complete 13 hours of community service at designated homeless youth shelters around the country. Regular attendees can also give back to the community by making an optional $5 donation to the Virgin Mobile’s charitable initiative to fight youth homelessness, The Re*Generation.
“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,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder and president of Virgin Group, 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.”
Weezer and Blink-182 will headline the one-day event. Franz Ferdinand, Public Enemy, Jet, The National, Girl Talk, The Bravery, The Hold Steady, St. Vincent, Wale, Mates of State and Taking Back Sunday are also scheduled, along with dance tent favorites Holy F*ck, Pete Tong, Danny Howells and Lee Burridge.