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Virgin FreeFest is returning to Merriweather Post Pavilion for yet another year of great acts, multiple stages, free’d out tickets, charitable contributions, and day drinking!


PLUS, for those that have tickets to FreeFest, BYT and I.M.P are bringing back the Magical Unicorn Bus of Romance and Dreams for Round III! For $35, you get a bus ticket, access to a BYT VIP area with your own restroom, and priority line-jumping at a BYT bar for all the drinks. Nab your tickets over at Eventrbite before they sold out like the last two years.

Now, on to all the artists, and all the songs you’ll need as a primer for Saturday:

Vampire Weekend

These perrenial Ivy-league-sound rockers, with the faintest touch of Afro-beats and three albums under their belt, may not play all of their classics from 2007. And that’s OK. With their newest LP, “Modern Vampires in the City,” expect the more mature sound they’ve developed after releasing songs suited for driving to a Lobster feast, and most indie movies to date. And if they’re single Diane Young is any indication, they still know how to get thousands in a crowd dancing. – Brandon Weight

The Avett Brothers

Scott and Seth Avett predated the Mumford & Sons-led folk revival craze by a few years with jangling songs that, at their most manic, have more in common with punk than bluegrass. Rick Rubin has taken some of the edge off of the brothers’ more recent work, but what these albums lose in rawness they make up for with accessible, heartfelt songwriting. The Avett Brothers are preparing to release their newest album, Magpie and the Dandelion, in October, and their FreeFest set may very well feature some of the day’s most charming moments and inspired singalongs. -Dan Singer

Pretty Lights

The first, and last, time I saw Pretty Lights was at New Years Eve in New York City. And, for lack of a better term, it was massive. Derek Vincent Smith, a Boulder, CO, DJ, is known best for both his incredible light show (hence the moniker, perhaps?) and borderline organic sampling and instrumental use in his soulful EDM tracks. But after the countdown, everyone was expecting a hit, another track to grind to, some Motown classic even. Then he dropped Kanye and Jay-Z’s ridiculously popular “Niggas in Paris” at Midnight. The crowd went apeshit. If he can make an entire ballroom in New York postpone midnight kisses in lieu of bowflexing and jumping for at least a minute, Derek will surely dominate the stage Saturday. – BW

Robin Thicke

Remember when Robin Thicke teamed up Lil’ Wayne last year? Or when he was nominated for New Artist of the Year at the AMA’s in ’07? Neither does the rest of the country. Because Blurred Lines. And like it or not, that song along with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” will remain as the song of the summer, and don’t even pretend like you don’t know the words to the entire song (minus T.I.’s rap). – BW


Euro-house superstar, Kaskade played during my sophomore year at Syracuse. Filling the 49,250-capacity Carrier Dome with more bass than any drunk college crowd could handle, he kept the whole scene entrapped drop after drop. With a new album, “Atmosphere” out now, expect as much thump as possible. – BW


I saw MGMT back in May when they headlined University of Maryland’s “Art Attack,” and to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Granted, I knew “Kids” would be a no-show, and I love me some wandering psych jams accompanied by swirly rainbow visuals, but throughout the set something felt off. Maybe it was just a little too cold and the band was a little too sardonic, or maybe I should’ve taken some hits from the joint being passed around in front of me. Rumor has it MGMT’s self-titled album, out this week, sees the band acting on its strangest indulgences yet, though it’s possible this new material could make for a pleasantly hazy performanceThe neon-clad concertgoers will most likely get to hear “Time To Pretend” and “Electric Feel,” but they should head elsewhere afterwards if they’re hoping to dance the night away. -Dan Singer

City and Color

With so many huge acts at FreeFest, you’ll need a breather. I’ll need a breather. City and Color, with an acoustic guitar and downtempo songs, will be that breather – BW

Icona Pop

Yes, you’ve heard “I Love It” with Charli XCX all the way from Girls to it’s eventual blow-up on mainstream radio. But with a new album you can even stream in full, get ready for even more dance-ready hits. – BW


Perhaps the most hyped-up band this year, Chvrches sounds like a fair mix of Purity Ring and M83. Read: incredible. If you plan on relaxing at the bar for any act early on, make sure you don’t miss them.

The Knocks

They played for us at our National Geographic Party, and with 2,000 people crowded into a ballroom, the vibe was amazing. Borderline dubby with plenty of funk to keep everyone’s hips moving, their sound will translate perfectly to Merriweather. – BW

Black Joe Lewis

So much soul. If there’s one act I want to dance to, you’re damn sure it’s Black Joe Lewis, rebirthing the James Brown sound that everyone should pay attention to.  – BW

Sky Ferreira

Model. Singer. Is there anything Ferreira can’t do? Tumblr would beg otherwise. -BW

Little Green Cars

Birthed from a sound that got bands like Edward Sharp and The Magnetic Zeroes and even Of Monsters and Men their big break, Little Green Cars deserves a listen, and could be the band you weren’t expecting to blow you off your feet. -BW


FreeFest this year is a fair mix of EDM regulars, indie rockers, and pop stars. But with Madeon’s already-established reputation at festivals like Ultra and Camp Bisco, he knows exactly how to keep a massive crowd going.

Garrett Emery

If there’s any way to pump up a crowd for the rest of the EDM artists performing, bringing a grimy basement house DJ to perform at an incredibly large venue will do the trick – BW.

Washed Out

Hey, they’re the guys from the Portlandia theme song! Yeah! And with another album out this year, prepare to vibe out to their festival-ready, beachy tunes. – BW

Manufactured Superstars

With less emphasis on driving too much bass through your ears, Manufactured Superstars will ease you into EDM acts you may never have bothered with. Consider it a more pop-laden gateway.


I can tell you first hand, Congorock is on loop at most college parties in the last few years. And that’s perfect, because his off-beat style won’t pound your head with repettitive beats, and will also remind you that drinking is OK when you first set foot at Merriweather in the morning. – BW


More proof that FreeFest is the coolest combination of Ultra and Lollapalooza. – BW

Ghost Beach

We interviewed one half of this seductively-good, fuzzed-out Brooklyn duo, and here’s what Eric “Doc” Mendehlson had to say about playing around the District:

“DC’s like a great second hometown for us, so we’re really excited to come back. It feels like New York to us, because we were able to get our feet on the ground throughout our progression of playing live.”