Virgin Mobile FreeFest Line Up Speculation
BYT at large | Aug 8, 2012 | 9:34AM |

Even though Virgin Mobile FreeFest hasn’t announced its lineup yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t wildly speculate on who we think will be there. Or rather, maybe we’re just talking about who we want to see at the festival:

  • Ross Bonaime:


Every year at VirginFest, there seems to be at least one legendary artist that shows up (Bob Dylan, The Police, Pavement, Patti Smith, etc.), and even though I know they’ll be coming to Verizon Center in November, I’d love to see former VirginFest performers The Who come back to headline this year. Also Sigur Ros are touring with no nearby dates, and in my wildest dream category, Gorillaz make a surprise appearance, utilizing hologram technology. To round out the wish list of headliners I want to see would be Explosions in the Sky, M83, Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean, The xx, Jack White and Kanye West, even though I doubt we’d ever seen the words ‘Kanye’ and ‘free’ in the same sentence.

West Stage

The smaller stage always reflects great up-and-coming bands that in just a few years usually become gigantic. In that case some of my favorite bands on the way up I’d like to see show up are The Horrors, Telekinesis, The Vaccines, The War on Drugs and Yellow Ostrich.

Dance Stage

Out of the four years I’ve gone to VirginFest, I’ve only gone to the Dance area to see three artists: Chromeo, !!! and James Murphy. This year I’d want to make the Dance stage as exciting to me as the other stages. First off opening the stage would be Twin Shadow, Neon Indian, Holy Ghost! and The Go! Team to kick things off. Then get Air to perform their entire Le voyage dans la lune album, complete with the film of the same name playing in the background. Then to wrap things up, Moby does a DJ set and to headline, Fatboy Slim.

  • Alan Zilberman

Headliner: New Order. It’s been seven years since the post-punk has toured the US, and in the intervening time, I’ve become a massive fan. They’re playing San Francisco and LA on the 5th and 7th, respectively, which means they could squeeze in a gig on the East coast. Not bloody likely, I know, but a guy can dream, right?

Mid-level: Black Moth Super Rainbow. I’ve been an avid Black Moth supporter for a while, and their fuzzy synths would be perfect for a cool fall day. The last time I saw them perform, they had a random dude in gorilla suit storm the stage and pretend to provide back-up vocals. It makes me wonder what kind of insanity they’d unfurl at Merriweather.
Best musician to get my dad interested: Leonard Cohen. My dad lives near Merriweather, so he’d really have no excuse. After the requisite time where he’s weirded out by kids gyrating to dub step (“You call this music?” he’d ask), I imagine he’d be totally stoked by the soft, arresting sounds of Canadian melancholy.
  • Kara Capelli


Also hoping for a strong male-female duo presence this year. David Byrne/St. Vincent or Beach House or the Ting Tings would be fantastic. I’d even go for Gotye with a Kimbra appearance. Actually, in that case, I’d rather just have Kimbra, who’s far more entertaining and colorful than the man who made her famous. (Also, a semi-Inconsequential discovery as I sat here thinking about David Byrne live: the full version of Stop Making Sense is now on Youtube? Scoot over to 25:30 if you’re in the unfortunate category of people who have never seen it.)

Otherwise, I’m Crossing my fingers for Fun. and Alabama Shakes on the main stage with Cloud Nothings, Grimes, Japandroids and J.Cole on the smaller stages. And (obviously) hopefully Blink 182 will reunite again three years after they reunited and headlined FreeFest, because as I learned then, I still somehow know every single line to every single song. OK kidding. Sort of. And since we’re dreaming anyway, I’ll throw Foo Fighters into the mix.

  • Marie Formica:

(A) The Foo Fighters: Freefest is expanding to a point that their organizers will reach out to a top shelf American classic, like the Foo Fighters. “The Foo Fighters? Jesus Christ, Marie, is this 2007? Are you 45?” Let me answer your questions with another question: Who the hell doesn’t want to hear the Foo Fighters? They’re like the vanilla of rock bands- at least 80% of the population loves them. Really. Look it up. Whether you’re a slightly badass soccer mom or a hardcore punk fan, you’d like a well deserved, slow, slightly emotive rock out after your day of Freefest bingo, cavorting from forest to main stage to side stage and back again. They might play “Everlong.” Trust me on this one. Or maybe Virgin will ask Deadmau5 and Cee Lo Green back. Whatever.

(B) The xx: Tease us all you want with your resonant minimal guitar lines and softclean vocals when you release “Angels” ahead of your new album, but at least have the decency to come to the Virgin Mobile Freefest and pick our souls apart by playing a set there.

Gold Panda:  Gold Panda will sprinkle good music dust in your hair. If you can still hear at this point in the night, their gentle, fuzzy mixes of far reaching sounds and melodies will have you listening hard in the Dance Forest for the tinkling sounds of glittering pixies. They’re a lesser known Sbtrktalike, or more importantly, another shade of DJ Shadow.

Ellie Goulding: Have you heard enough variations on the “Lights” theme yet this year? I sure haven’t. I mean, have you listened to that killer Bassnectar “Lights” remix? Killer, man. “Lights” (the song) aside, her fast, poppy tunes from “Lights” (the 2011 album) would do well with everyone. She’s a sparkly British electro-pop star, and she’s showing up to make you dance.

Madeon:  He’s French. He’s 18. He’s elusive. He’s making actually good, interesting remixes of big hits. He is an electronic music mashup prodigy. Basically, what I’m saying is this. Ok? Just that. That is why Madeon will be Freefesting this year.

The Strokes: After the garage nouveau, lo-fi 2001 album “Is This It” became a sleeper hit, The Strokes were immediately relocated into a program for bands in the potentially dangerous situation of imploding from way-too-high expectations. In 2005, leaving this undisclosed location only after midnight in black vehicles, they forged the largely forgotten “First Impressions of the Earth.” There are notes being passed around regarding a marginally better album released in 2011, which caters to most folks’ taste. There are also rumors that a rebel underground pro-Strokes coalition is placing them back on the stage under the pseudonym “Vampire Weekend.”

(C) Band I want to paint my Converse high tops (the poor man’s Toms) and/or Band I want to attend a strip club with and then scold them about it: Fun.Wholesome, high energy and ready for the most neon of puffy paints (or for a group of equally young energetic fans), they would just love to go to some cheesy strip club and talk about getting a little too drunk and a little too high, but their enthusiasm would come crashing down after a stern-talking to. And that would be real fun.


Band I want to learn piano from: Rufus Wainwright. Not only would I get to complete my abandoned piano ambitions, learn his technique used in melodic theatrical ballads , I’d get to hear some serious shit talking on Liza Minnelli.

Band I want to tell me about what our retro, post-apocalyptic future looks like: Caravan Palace. I see they have fiddles and swing dancing in 2120, but do they still have ice cream? Can we still see the sun or have Earth’s new overlords extended a protective metal UV shield 300 feet over the planet’s surface?

  • Rohan Mahadevan

Headliner: New Order. Even though Peter Hook isn’t in the band anymore, it would be great if FreeFest could score a headliner like New Order. Free Fest always goes for reunited acts and New Order would fit the bill perfectly. I know FreeFest probably can’t get New Order, so I’d think Skrillex might be a good shot for a headliner- he could bring his girlfriend Ellie Goulding too, she has an album coming out this fall.

Mid-level: I’d love it if FreeFest could get Icona Pop and TNGHT in the dance tent. Icona Pop are riding high on “I Love It,” but they have other amazing jams- as viewed here. Icona Pop is going to be in Seattle on the 28th of September so as long as they stay int he states this is a possibility. TNGHT is fucking incredible and haven’t been here, so that would be a great choice. While we are on TNGHT- Rustie would be awesome for the dance tent too! As for someone who doesn’t have anything really planned there is a chance Cat Power could be playing.

  • Phil Runco

Dream Headliner (That’s Not Going to Happen): Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I’ve been to a lot of festivals, but truly memorable sets have been few and far between.  It’s with some irony then that one of them wasn’t even supposed to happen – the Beastie Boys were set to headline one Saturday night of Austin City Limits in 2009, but when Adam Yauch got sick and the trio had to cancel, in stepped the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  Now, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the two things a headliner needs:  75 minutes of great songs and a hell of a stage presence.  While the headliners of last year’s FreeFest had the former (TV on the Radio), the latter (Empire of the Sun), or neither (the Black Keys), the Yeah Yeah Yeahs delivered the whole package on that drizzly October night years ago: a blistering set that staggered thrashing garage rock, grand, sky-opening ballads, and buzzing electro pop, with Karen O making the case that her over-the-top theatrically may be fully realized only on a massive festival stage.  As the band was playing out closer “Date with Night”, O began to playfully twirl her microphone and then methodically and viciously smashing it against the stage, beating it into submission.  I felt like that microphone.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  FreeFest 2012, you may not get the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but make me feel like that microphone.

Prediction: Divine Fits

As you definitely maybe know, Divine Fits is Spoon’s Brit Daniels, Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, and some other guy.  (Dear Merge Records, please stop trying to trying to convince me I need to care about the other guy – this would be like telling me there’s a new Maserati sitting in my driveway and I should be getting excited about the personalized floor mats.)  These Divine Fits are skipping over DC on their upcoming string of dates, so I’m fairly confident they’ll be playing Virgin Freef – wait, they’re playing a festival in Nashville on October 6th?  GODDAMMIT, BRIT, I THOUGHT WE WERE COOL.  Ok, fine, bring on Edward Sharpe.


Your turn. Who do you want to see?