M.I.A., LCD, Pavement, T.I. Lead Virgin Mobile FreeFest Lineup

M.I.A. hosts Nylon Magazine's Music Issue party at SkyBar in West Hollywood on Jun. 22. But something seems to be missing... neon colors and abundance of Spandex, perhaps?

M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, Pavement, T.I., and Ludacris are among the acts booked at this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest, a free music festival set for Sept. 25 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.

Filling out the bill are Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Matt & Kim, Jimmy Eat World, the Temper Trap, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, and Yeasayer. The Dance Forrest area will feature Chromeo, Sleigh Bells, Die Antwoord, Modeselektor and Neon Indian.

Tickets to the 2010 Virgin Mobile FreeFest will be available to the public at ticketfly.com on July 24. Virgin Mobile customers and previous Virgin Mobile Festival ticket holders from the past four years will be invited via text and email to a private "free-sale" (much like a pre-sale, except free) to be held July 23.

The announcement was made this morning by Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson on Virgin Mobile Live, the company's new Internet music stream available on Virgin Mobile websites.

The festival is produced and promoted by D.C.-based promoter I.M.P. "Our objective is simple: to put on the best music out there," says I.M.P. chairman Seth Hurwitz. "We don't have to sell tickets. So what do you book, you book what you feel is the coolest show you can."

Hurwitz says he was able to book most of the acts he wanted to for this year's FreeFest. "There were [acts] we got to a little late, or that just didn't want to do it for one reason or another," he tells Billboard.biz. "There are acts that want too much money, of course, and we're giving away the tickets, so there are limits on that. We wanted to put on a free show with great music, and because we don't have to sell tickets, it becomes that pure. If you like putting on shows for people, it doesn't get much better than this."

This will be the fifth year that Virgin has sponsored a music festival in the D.C. market, all produced by I.M.P., with the first three being pay fests at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Track. While festivals in general are performing well this summer, Hurwitz admits he's OK with not being faced with going on sale with a major festival in this economic environment. "That pressure sucked," he says. "When we did it at Pimlico, it was a fantastic show, but it wasn't an idyllic setting like Coachella or Lollapalooza, and it would suck to get up every day and look at the count to see if we're any closer to breaking even."

This year, The RE*Generation, Virgin Mobile's charitable initiative to end youth homelessness, is encouraging fans to make a $5 donation and in return receive a 2010 Virgin Mobile FreeFest mix produced by DJ Rusko. The download will mash up select bands in the lineup to create a unique 20-minute mix. The DJ mix will be available for pre-order on Friday during the pre-sale with every $5 donated to youth homelessness.


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