Following last weekend’s successful V Fest in the U.K. — which featured a buzzed-about appearance by Amy Winehouse during The Specials’ headlining set — its organizers are bringing big name bands to U.S. shores this Sunday (Aug. 30) for the Virgin Mobile FreeFest, a one-day festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. Organizers announced via Twitter this morning that all remaining FreeFest tickets will be sold for $10 on Ticketmaster.com, with proceeds going to RE*Generation, an organization dedicated to helping homeless children.
Here’s a roundup of the Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2009’s top acts:
With a blockbuster tour underway and a new album in the works, Blink-182 — the lovably bratty pop-punkers responsible for early-decade smashes “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things” — has come back from its five-year hiatus in a big way. Drummer Travis Barker’s near-fatal plane crash last year helped reunite him with bandmates Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus back together. A string of sold-out North American arena and amphitheater dates featuring Weezer, Taking Back Sunday and Chester French precede Blink’s headlining slot at Virgin Mobile Freefest.
After spending the summer supporting Blink-182, Weezer is gearing up for the release of its seventh studio album, “Raditude,” due October 27. The lead single, “(If I You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” hit radio last week. Frontman Rivers Cuomo and company scored another hit last year with “Weezer” (a.k.a. “The Red Album”), whose first single, “Pork and Beans,” topped the Alternative Songs chart in June 2008. The band’s appearance at Virgin Mobile Freefest follows a set at Japan’s Fuji Rock festival that included alternative classics “Say It Ain’t So” and “Island in the Sun,” as well as a cover of the White Stripes‘ “Seven Nation Army.”
Five years removed from breakout hit “Take Me Out,” Franz Ferdinand comes to Merriweather Post Pavilion on the heels of a highly successful year. The Scottish rockers followed the release of third studio album “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” by hitting the festival circuit this summer, which included stops at Coachella, Glastonbury and Spain’s Benicassim Festival. Franz Ferdinand has most recently been playing its latest album, including current groovy single “No You Girls,” while opening for Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown tour.
Since 2002, Pittsburgh DJ Gregg Gillis — better known as Girl Talk — has been slowly refining his art of mashing up hundreds of other artists’ songs into coherent, dance-worthy tracks. His 2006 breakout album “Night Ripper” led to public recognition and swelling crowds at his unhinged DJ shows, while last year’s “Feed the Animals” made it onto Time Magazine’s Top 10 Albums of 2008 list. Following his appearance at Virgin Mobile Freefest, Girl Talk is set to play San Francisco’s Treasure Island Music Festival in October alongside the Flaming Lips and MGMT.
Aussie rockers Jet have returned this year with “Shaka Rock,” their just-released third studio album. The disc recalls the gloriously messy vibe of 2003 multi-platinum debut “Get Born,” with first single “She’s a Genius” displaying a wicked riff and the band’s catchiest hook since “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” “Genius,” which the band performed at Melbourne’s “Sound Relief” benefit show earlier this year, can currently be heard in a national Victoria’s Secret ad. Jet will storm Europe for a fall tour after rocking the FreeFest crowd.
Mates of State may specialize in light, catchy indie rock, but the buzz that the two-piece has accumulated over the past decade has been anything but soft. A husband-and-wife duo consisting of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, Mates of State has built a fan base by releasing solid albums like last year’s “Re-Arrange Us” and touring with indie vets like Spoon and Death Cab for Cutie. In addition to playing Virgin Mobile Freefest, Mates of State will perform at the Voodoo Experience festival with Eminem and Jane’s Addiction this Halloween weekend.
Two decades after the release of landmark hip-hop album “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back,” Public Enemy has proven to be as vital as ever by dazzling crowds at U.S. festivals. The veteran New York rap crew, which features bruising MC Chuck D and hilarious hype man Flavor Flav, has made appearances at this year’s Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Roots Family Picnic festivals, and for the latter it was backed up by the Roots themselves, along with members of the Brooklyn Afro-beat collective Antibalas. While Public Enemy has been playing hits like the righteous “Fight the Power” at its most recent live shows, the group has also performed “Nation” in its entirety on a few occasions since 2008.
Following a three-year break and a lineup change, Taking Back Sunday roared back with “New Again,” the band’s fourth studio album released in June. The departure of guitarist Fred Mascherino has yet to slow down the hard rockers, who saw the disc debut at No. 7 on the Billboard 200. Coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion with tour mates Blink-182 and Weezer, Taking Back Sunday is set to bring powerful singles like “A Decade Under the Influence,” “MakeDamnSure,” and “Sink Into Me” to the main stage.
D.C. rapper Wale took a while to bust out of his hometown go-go scene and into the mainstream, but a string of classic mixtapes and sly collaborations have pegged him as a rising star. Last year’s “Seinfeld”-inspired “Mixtape About Nothing” won the rapper critical acclaim, while new single “Chillin'” featuring Lady GaGa finds him mastering pop music. His performance at Virgin Mobile FreeFest precedes the release of debut album “Attention: Deficit,” which features production by Mark Ronson and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, on Sept. 22.
Brooklyn group the National offers a moodier, adult-oriented approach to indie music, and its unique sound has quickly found a following. After the release of fourth full-length “Boxer” in 2007, the band opened for the Arcade Fire and helped organize the AIDS benefit compilation “Dark Was the Night” earlier this year. Before it takes the stage in Baltimore, the National’s meticulous live show has already been featured at Carnegie Hall, All Points West and in the headlining slot at Pitchfork Music Festival this year.