Last week, those of us in the D.C. area were treated to a free, all day music festival for the second straight year; courtesy of Richard Branson and his Virgin empire. The line up, while not as impressive as last year’s in my opinion, still had enough acts that I wanted to see that would make the trip up to Columbia, MD worth it.
The event (I just found myself cringing that I used that word, damn you NBC!) was held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. The actual pavilion (where normal shows perform during the year) acted as the main stage, and they set up a second west stage about 200 meters away. There was also a “dance forest” set up – I’ll talk more about that later.
If you ever decide to see a show at Merriweather, here are a couple of tips. 1) Bring a bottle of water. Yes, they’ll let you bring in one factory sealed bottle – which means as long as that gallon jug of water you want to take in is sealed, it’s all good. And you don’t want to be paying $7 for a bottle once you’re inside. 2) Park at the Columbia Mall. The mall is literally a stone’s throw away from the back entrance of the pavilion. State police “tried” to tell people to not park at the mall so that there wouldn’t be congestion, but we got away with it pretty easily. If you park at the mall, park on the food court side. You can get out of the area quicker and instead of paying $10 for a shitty plate of 3 chicken tenders (which I ended up having to have to do anyways since I got hungry 6 hours into the festival), you can hit up the food court at the mall before you go in. Actually the food court is rather impressive with, seriously, pretty much every food vendor available. This makes the pavilion actually a pretty good place to see a show during the week, since with the mall being right there, you can eat dinner before the typical 7:30 start time.
But back to the Freefest. Before we went into the show, my group of friends had decided on what acts they most wanted to see. Since a lot of the bands’ performances overlapped with each other we all did our best to try to plan so that we could get to and from the Main and West stage as well as the “dance forest” at the right times. Since most of the acts were on average 45 minutes, there was a lot of walking around. But also, because the acts were generally shorter, all the bands played more of their famous songs and crowd pleasers to satisfy the masses.
As we walked in we noticed that the event holders were smart enough to have convenient tents and covered beds for the concert goers to relax in between shows. There were also several vendors giving away souvenirs such as those plastic back sacks, wristbands and bandannas (that they refreshingly soaked in ice cold water before they gave to you). Jeremiah Weed was also there with their sweet tea. Yes, it was $10 for a Dixie cup sized cocktail, but it was damn tasty and damn refreshing on the last hot day of the year.
(Thanks to the DCist for the pictures, my camera is broken)
Collectively, we all started at The Temper Trap on the west stage. Most of you probably know the song “Sweet Disposition” from either the Diet Coke commercial, or the movie 500 Days of Summer (good flick to check out btw). They were a solid B+, and I learned that they have both an Indonesian lead singer (the first of a few vocalists that day that I discovered I had wrongfully pictured in my head) and the most animated bassists I’ve ever seen.
I’ll get to more of the concert in the next post.