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April 2, 2008

Will Virgin Mobile Festival draw?

Now that we know the headliners to this year's Virgin Mobile Festival, the next debate is: Will more people go this year than in previous years?

I think Kanye West is the hottest act on the bill, and will probably bring out more people than any of the other headliners.

Jack Johnson is also a big draw among the high school and college crowd.

Both Nine Inch Nails and the Foo Fighters were huge in the '90s. But neither band has had many hits in the past few years. So it's hard for me to guess how many people would come see them.

How much interest is there in a reunited Stone Temple Pilots tour? And do you think the band will actually stay together long enough to make it to the festival?

(Photo by Getty Images) 

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:04 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Virgin Mobile Festival


I have to admit, The Police, Pumpkins and Beasties are all in my top 10 bands, so this year will never live up to 2007. I won't go to see the headliners (not a Foo fan, Kanye... eeeh, Jack Johnson isn't worth the price, and NIN are better on CD), but will be interested in some of the supporting acts.

There were some great ones last year, especially the Wu-Tang, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, trifecta in the middle of Sunday.

damn, this fest can't even generate comments...

Seriously ... I'm surprised. Thought this would get a better reaction.

I actually think you're way off the mark, Sam. Getting Kanye was a smart move, no doubt, he's got more universal appeal than any other popular hip hop artist.

But Virgin is essentially a rock festival, and the combined drawing power of a few big bands (even ones that peaked in the 90s) is way more than one rapper, especially whose fans can see him on a hip hop/pop bill at Nissan next month if they're not interested in the rock bands.

You're way underestimating the current popularity of the Foo Fighters (who've had 5 rock radio #1's this decade) and Nine Inch Nails (who've had 4). STP haven't played in years and this will be the first chance for a lot of people to see them live, and Jack Johnson is at the peak of his popularity.

And FYI, a couple years ago when Kanye West and Nine Inch Nails were at Madison Square Garden on the same night, NIN played the big arena while Kanye was in the smaller theatre in the venue.

I've worked at the festival both years and was not impressed by the turnout on either of the 2 days last year. While I do think that Jack Johnson alone will draw a significant number of festival goers, Mr. Branson better have one hell of a supporting cast lined up if he expects to match last years total attendance.

They'll also be competing with the All Points West 3-day festival just outside NYC that weekend. That's not good news, especially since Virgin waited so long to announce the headliners and has yet to reveal the rest of the line-up. For a company that is known for it's creative self-promotion I don't think they're doing the best job in this case...or maybe IMP is to blame for that.

yeah but al, that was in 2005...when Kanye's stock was definately lower and he played two shows at the theater at MSG which seats 5600 a show and is a more intimate flash forward to 2008 where he is coming off the biggest opening week bow for 2007 and the 10th best in sales for 2007 as well as 4 wins at the grammy awards.

Sam I would also say that Nissan Pavilion draws a lot more people from Northern VA and DC then a lot of people I talk to cringe when thinking of dealing with 2 beltways and I66 and the two lane road to the venue and the only reason people I know go there is because Live Nation locks artists(especially country artists) into playing only their venue. So that could affect how much draw Kanye could have at Virgin Fest.

now NIN played Merriweather a couple of years ago and the show was far from a sell out...

the Foos will be amazing and a big draw even though they haven't really had a big hit since the early part of the decade

I see Jack Johnson playing the B stage and being a good draw but as it stands right now he is kind of on his own in terms of mixing with other artists...similar to how Panic! at the Disco! was last year

bring on some more bands!

Jack Johnson has scaled back the number of shows he's playing on this tour compared to his ones in the past. He's at his peak right now (album debuted at #1 in the US and abroad, Rolling Stone cover, etc.) so I think he'll bring more festival-goers than any other act on the bill. I'm fairly certain he sold-out Merriweather both times he played there. For comparison, the place was half empty the last time The White Stripes were in Columbia.

Anyone have any predictions or inside info on other groups that will be playing? I'm thinking the Raconteurs will be back and probably The Kooks (along with a slew of other Virgin Records acts)

Wow, not really interested in any of those bands except maybe the Foo Fighters. They need to add some really good supporting acts, which are likely the types of bands I'm more into anyway, but it looks like I'm skipping it again this year.

I went in 2006 and had a great time, it was pricey, but there were a ton of great bands in one day... Flaming Lips, Thievery, Wolfmother, etc. Last year the line-up looked fairly good, but watered down over two days and in August when you know it is going to be nasty hot out (I'm old and enjoy my comforts) and you have to pay so much to go both days... nah. This year the line-up is even less appealing to me and still in August on two days. I'm disappointed where this festival is heading, seemed so great for Baltimore. Toronto is getting the better acts.

I live in NJ and have no desire to go to the All Points West festival, which is basically taking place in my back yard over the same weekend.

I'm a huge Foo Fighters fan (seeing them in July as well) and have seen NIN on several occasions - one being MSG, which was sold out. Admittedly, however, NIN sounds much better in a smaller/intimate venue.

Would love for them to add Godsmack to this line up ;)

I'll be there, and I'm excited about it. Foo Fighters are near the top of my want-to-see list, Jack Johnson has fun music, seeing Kanye will be a cool experience I guess

And hey, if other people stay away ... fantastic. Less lines for beer, water, food. More space to watch the show. Had a blast last year, will have a blast this year.

Uhhhhh.....didn't the Foo's break a record at alternative radio with their last single "The Pretender"? It was #1 for 18 WEEKS. Their latest single has been #1 there for 6 weeks and counting. Hits? I'd say......

I'm hoping the other bands announced will be more modern and more interesting. I want to see the Foo Fighters and Jack Johnson, but neither are big draws to me. Kanye will pack em in, but he doesn't interest me.

could do WITHOUT West or Johnson
West will bring a good amount and i will watch a little, if no one else is playing i like,

been doing fests (HFS VIRGIN...) since 1995 and i've seen them all and still have great times.

I love the Foos and NIN seen them a million times, still who cares, it'll be a fun day. And to see all the bands on one day for the price of one good arena ticket for a headliner (like i would never pay 160 +++ to see The Police but add Pumpkins, LCD,etc. can't beat it)

Would like to see Sterophonics, The Cult, Death Cab, hell even Duran Duran.

Both Nine Inch Nails and the Foo Fighters were huge in the '90s. But neither band has had many hits in the past few years. So it's hard for me to guess how many people would come see them....

wtf are you talkin bout? the pretender was just released nd was #1. they sold out in philly back in september so im sure they'll generate some fans down in maryland. you need to update yourself on music ya moron

For the first time in the existence of the Virgin Festival I'm actually thinking about going just to hear the Foo's, NIN, and yes even STP a band that doesn't get the recognition other acts get from that time period.

Love Kanye... Hate Kanye... the guy puts on a performance.

So far so good... add some bands like The Gutter Twins, Northern State, Detroit Cobras and it could be a slam dunk!

What the hell?!?!?!?!? Does NO ONE have any solid word - even tight rumours - on who else is playing?????? This is maddening!

Gogol Bordello has it listed on their website. That's the first band mentioned that I'd be interested in seeing. (I'd be interested in seeing Kanye but I wouldn't buy a ticket for him alone).


Good spot. I'll have some more news soon.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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