Oct. 6 marked Virgin Mobile’s annual musical festival, Free Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Although there was a wide range of artists, what really makes this music festival special, especially for broke, unemployed college students, is that it really is free. Thousands of people flocked to see popular artists including rock musician Jack White, rapper Nas, and dubstep DJ Skrillex.
The festival began with Baltimore natives Future Islands on the West Stage, who mostly played songs from their most recent album On the Water. Their lead singer, Sam Herring’s, deep voice rumbled as he pounded his chest and moved across the stage, giving an emotional performance. Although their set did not disappoint, their performances are much stronger in smaller, more intimate settings.
The rest of the day continued with performances on all three stages leaving concertgoers without a single dull moment. The Dance Forest was definitely the most interesting stage out of the three. As the day went on and the crowd grew, there seemed to be more neon, more body paint, but fewer clothes on the ecstatic people who decided to spend their day enjoying electronic music.
The concert was indeed intended for all, and this could be seen in crowd control implemented in the pit at the Pavilion Stage. After each set, security asked concertgoers to clear the pit. This way, no one had to spend the entire day staking their claim to a specific spot, allowing more space for the current acts’ fans.
As the day went on, the air grew colder, but that didn’t stop anyone from having a good time. One of the best performances of the day was electronic singer-songwriter Santigold, who kept the crowd entertained with her two backup dancers, choreography, and costume change. Her fun and energetic music got the crowd dancing and having a great time.
Out of all the sets, the best definitely came from French group M83. By the time they began, the sun had set and fans had gathered close to the stage not only to stay warm, but also to ensure they would be able to see the performance. M83 appropriately started their set with “Intro” and went on to play several other songs. The most amazing song was the crowd favorite “Midnight City,” complete with an energetic saxophone solo. All the band members danced across the stage, while an absolutely stunning lightshow shone behind them.
Virgin Mobile Freefest is definitely a wonderful way to end the outdoor concert season. Since it costs nothing to go, it allows a wide variety of people to go. It’s also great because of its emphasis on charity. According to the Baltimore Sun, Freefest raised over $600,000 and 77,000 hours of volunteer work. Hopefully Freefest will continue to be free in years to come.