HFStival hosted Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers in its heyday; this weekend its Billy Idol and Third Eye Blind
HFStival is returning this week after a four-year absence. The granddaddy of East coast music festivals was the live music arm of seminal, shuttered radio station WHFS-FM, and through most of the '90s and the first half of the '00s, it drew massive crowds.
In 2007, it was suspended, and the version that returns this year is something of a zombie HFStival, with prehistoric headliners like Billy Idol, Third Eye Blind, and Everclear.
In our photo gallery, witness the festival over the years.
In this oral history, attendees recall the festival's heyday:
Jon Bailey of Baltimore-based Jon Bailey Band: WHFS was a station that kind of defined our times in high school.
It was on all the time, from when I got home came from school to when I went to bed. The first time I
listened to Radiohead was on there. First time I heard Beck.
Mike Hall of the Baltimore rock group Sick Sick Birds: I loved the station. I was a teen in the late 80s and I loved what they played then. It was WHFS and the Towson radio station pretty exclusively.
Bryan Burkert, owner of Fells Point record store Sound Garden: The festival was one of the first in the region.
Back when it used to be popular, it was one of the ways to be played on the station. They were always
right on the cusp.
Bailey: I went to the very first HSF. This was in the mid-90s. I was in high school. I went with a couple
of high school buddies. None of us had been to concerts before that. We had a lot of fun. I don’t even
remember who played.
Burkert: When I HFS was in its heyday they had all the alternative music that was breaking. Some of the
great alternative acts. Beastie Boys playing with the Foo Fighters. You could get a lot of really good bands
playing in one day. It was a party. Sound Garden did a lot with them. We would always sell for every HFStival
artist. We had campaigns around it. It was really an event back in the day.
After the station changed to a talk radio format in 2007, the festival was suspended. For attendees, it was already getting too mainstream.
Hall: I haven't gone since the mid-90s. What I remember was sitting on a blanket on a nice day with friends and seeing They Might be Giants. I don't even know where it is this year. It's probably not unlike every other giant, Lollapalooza-style festival. They all seem kind of the same to me.
Bailey: HFS summarized high school for us. It encompassed the over-all experience of growing up in the 90s.
Burkert: I saw the ad but haven't really looked into it. Without a radio station there’s not much driving it. Also we’ve all gotten a little older.
Photo: Michael Lutzky / Baltimore Sun