« The Black Eyed Peas are coming to Baltimore | Main | Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: The real St. Patrick »

March 15, 2010

Virgin Mobile FreeFest to return to Merriweather

weezer at virgin mobile freefestThe Virgin Mobile FreeFest will be back for another year at Merriweather Post Pavilion, organizers confirmed today.

And yes, as the name implies, it will be free again.

Though no headliners or dates have been picked yet, the festival is sure to be one of the region's biggest live music events.

Last year, a capacity crowd flooded the Columbia amphitheater to see bands such as Weezer, Blink-182 and Franz Ferdinand ...

"People were pinching themselves that they were there for free," said festival publicist Audrey Schaefer. "The people at Virgin Mobile wanted to find a way to recreate that magic but take it a step further."

This year, the festival will once again partner with charities to raise money and awareness for youth homelessness. Last year, volunteers donated 30,000 hours and $80,000 in exchange for tickets to the festival.

"That added a whole new dimension and a sense of pride," Schaefer said.

(Baltimore Sun photo by Christopher T. Assaf)

Follow Midnight Sun on Facebook and Twitter @midnightsunblog
Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:28 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Local music


I'd rather pay money for a bigger and better festival on grounds more suited for a large festival, perhaps Pimlico...and the fact it's like two minutes from my house is only slightly influential

maybe it's just me

A festival is not the place to see your favorite band because the sets are scaled back alot versus a normal show.
Otherwise fun times I suppos if your into hanging with a throng of yuppies and hipsters that wear jeans 4 sizes too small LOL

This is very good news! I thought they did an outstanding job last year.
Always impressed with the Virgin people. They keep the crowds under control, bad behavior is at a minimum, lotsa of activities outside of the music, overall good festival vibe. Much better than what the old HFSivals degenerated into.
I hope the line-up is just as good. Besides, can't argue with a free show.

Awesome...while I prefer bigger festivals and am not a huge fan of that amphitheater, I did have a great time visiting the fest from New York last year.


"I'd rather pay money for a bigger and better festival on grounds more suited for a large festival, perhaps Pimlico...and the fact it's like two minutes from my house is only slightly influential maybe it's just me"

NO it's not just you. I agree and would gladly pay to see something back at Pimlico, RFK, or Charslestown racetrrack..

Just about everyone I talked to, my friend that went with me, and people on various message boards had the same problems I had.

Too much crowd for such a small space, if you were on the lawn you were screwed because the sound system was so low you could barely hear a thing, the video screens were out of sync with what people were actually hearing when they could hear something,

I guess that massive survey I took afterwards was a waste of time.

I was there last year and on the hill for the entire second half of the day. Not sure what sound problems people are referring to b/c it sounded fantastic where I was at. The complaints about Merriweather are getting tiresome. The place is in as beautiful of a setting as any amphitheater of it's size on the East Coast, is widely regarded amongst sound techs as having some of the best acoustics in the country and is also oozing with history. Here's an idea - if a band doesn't sound good from where you are on the lawn, MOVE! It's a big hill and you can always find another spot to improve it.

I wish I better understood the motivation for this change. Maybe it's been explained before and I missed it. I went to every Virgin Festival at Pimlico. I would be happy to continue to pay to see the bands they were bringing in.

I don't have much of a desire to go to Merriweather whether it's free or not. Partly due to the venue and partly due to last year's line-up.

I thought it was a good time last year, it's always good to have something going on thats only 15 to 20 minute drive away. I can't complain

I agree that I miss big shows at RFK like the 90's HFStivals but I have grown to like Merriweather. By opening the whole grounds we had shade to sit in during the really hot part of the day and there was plenty of room to move around. Last year's was remarkably fun despite the fact that I didn't care too much about any of the bands. Didn't mind getting to see Weezer and Girl Talk and some other fun bands but it was more fun as an event. Spending the day with your friends out in the sun eating food and drinking a few beers is fun any time.

Hopefully they get some more bands I like this year but as long as there are a few decent ones I will still probably go.

Lame. Tickets were impossible to get last year unless you wanted to buy them off of ebay/stubhub for $70 a pop. This year should be even worse with every scalper on the planet trying to make a quick buck.

What a shame. This used to be a really great festival.

Jeremy: I dunno what you are talking about. Me and maybe 10 or 15 friends all got free tickets. I don't know anyone who bought online or from scalpers.

free tickets is not good idea. Those with only a passing interest in music and scalpers get the tickets.

I don't understand what the complaining is about.
1 - It is free.
2 - Merriweather has trees to crawl under and take a nap after you've had a few beers and baking in the sun.
3 - I thought the lineup was pretty solid. The headliners were not huge bands but who cares, who do you expect? I thought Franz Ferdinand put on one of the best live outdoor shows i've ever seen.
4 - I think Sir Richard knows what he is doing, he does after all, own an island.

We went to the Virgin Fest @ Pimlico every year and loved them. I really wish Sir Richard (AKA my close personal friend and drinking buddy because I have a pic of us clinking Bud Lites at the first one) had chosen to continue on with the big concerts - they provided us with so many great memories, like how incredilbe The Who still sounded, the over-the-top energy of the RHCP's and the fact that Amy Winehouse actually showed up.

you get what you pay for, and in the case of a free festival last year we got many bands who were a big deal 10 years ago...

I was there last year, And I'm so happy they'll do it again next year, THank you so much!!! IT was great and people enjoy!!! I think it's great that it is free now :D

yes! i'm glad they're doing it again. i do wish they'd do it at pimlico again but it wasn't so bad last year. maybe they could offer vip tix for those of us that don't mind paying for better seating. please book queens of the stone age!!!

This is sad news. As others have said, the Pimlico festivals were solid and I gladly paid real money to see the best current bands. I don't know if the decision to do Merriweather again has anything to do with the Pimlico situation, but Baltimore should know that my tourist dollars will go to Chicago this year - Lollapalooza here I come.

shut up. its a free concert. if you don't like who is playing- don't go. if you don't like the place- don't go.

i went when we had to pay for the tickets a few years in a row. (and i made the commute from FLORIDA togo) and i was SO pissed that i couldnt go this year when it was FREE. so don't waste your time complaining. just find something "better" to do with your time.

@bdh... and quite the island it is. saw some special on it on Travel Channel and I don't think I stopped drooling once.

Need. My. Own. Island.

I agree with some of the other comments. I was so excited last year when I found out everything about it...the dates fell of the weekend of my birthday, the tickets were free, and the lineup was great. Small but great. I wasn't able to get pre-sale tickets because they were all gone by the time I found out about it, and then when the tickets were released to the general public, I was on Ticketmaster the moment they went on sale and they were gone before I finished the catchya phrase, and I have fast internet. The system that these were released in did not allow the people to get tickets for free. Some people got lucky, but mostly Stubhub and other ticket vendors snatched them all up and charged anywhere from 75 to 300 dollars a pop. It was ridiculous. I hope they go about this another way, a way that everybody can get a ticket.

To Chrissy,

When I went to the FreeFest last year they had free tickets available the day of the festival. I just went up to the Merriweather box office and asked for two and they gave them to me. There wasn't even a line to get the tickets; just a line to get in.

This is great news! We had a blast last year and loved the atmosphere. Bring back the DJs!!!!!!

Posted by: sbd7062 | March 15, 2010 8:39 PM

you must not have been at the 2009 Virgin Freefest, the sets were COMPLETE, even Weezer and Blink-182.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "y" in the field below:
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.

Most Recent Comments
Recent tweets
Sign up for FREE nightlife alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for nightlife text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Weekend Watch newsletter
Plan your weekend with's best events, restaurant and movie reviews, TV picks and more delivered to you every Thursday for free.
See a sample | Sign up

Photo galleries
Stay connected