September 28, 2013

Looking Back @ Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2013


Reviewed by Brian Litwin and Charlie Walker

As fall approaches and festival season comes to a close, only several events from 2013 seem worthy of making note. The eighth annual Virgin Mobile FreeFest in Columbia, MD. proved to be one such experience for the books. Unlike other ordinary festivals, tickets to FreeFest are given away for free, and the over 50,000 fans that showed up raised over $1 million for the RE*Generation project, which helps the young homeless. Our adventure on Saturday, September 21 was memorable, as a torrential downpour for over 7 hours provided a nice change of pace from B3SCI’s usual sunny Los Angeles habitat. Check out our recap of happenings from Virgin Mobile FreeFest 2013 below:


B3SCI alum and faves, Ghost Beach opened the festival in fine fashion. Beating the rain in the Dance Forest stage, the duo consisting of Josh Ocean and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn brought their tropical, grit pop to the masses in Maryland. Playing hits like “Empty Streets” and “Miracles” the duo seems poised to make some serious noise. Reviewed By Brian Litwin


As the rain steadily came down, so did the spirited jams of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, a southern, brass-filled psychedelic outfit from Austin, TX. With their bluesy, soulful licks, it made for an exceptionally refreshing performance given the mostly synth-heavy Virgin Mobile FreeFest line-up. Channeling his inner James Brown and the 60’s era with a tight band right on his heels, the vibe was intimate while Joe Lewis’s extended jam of “Skulldiggin” was a hit with the drying crowd underneath the Pavillion Stage. It was evident with the screams and extended applause that the revelers were captivated, engaged, and wanting more when the set concluded. Reviewed By Charlie Walker


Tucked away deep in the woods with the tree canopy’s above shielding some of the constant drizzle, the FreeFest Dance Stage hosted a solid array of acts, including a thumping, energetic performance by Congorock. It was completely bonkers as Rocco Rampino’s set absolutely crushed the late afternoon timeslot, dropping massive electro-house sounds with riveting punk breaks. This Italian producer had bodies moving and twisting every-which-way, clothes literally flying off, and arms thrusting in the air when he let loose with his remix of Zeds Dead & Omar Lynx’s “Cowboy” remix. It was a completely different environment in the forest as this enchanted bassland was full of neon’s and seemed so far away from the rest of the FreeFest happenings. Crush-mode for sure! Reviewed By Charlie Walker


Completely owning their unique sound and maintaining their positive ascension over their 10-year tenure as a band, The Avett Brothers ripped through a stellar 16-song set in front of a capacity Pavillion Stage crowd for over an hour, with those on the lawn dancing in the rain. Scott and Seth Avett, along with Bob Crawford, played with precision and without boundaries during “Life”. As majority of us VIP attendees were imbibing in crafted moonshine cocktails, the fellas fittingly played a crowd pleasing “Down With The Shine”, and had everybody on their feet singing along and dancing to their hit “I and Love and You”. Does it get much better? Reviewed By Charlie Walker


I have heard only the best things about the Ernest Greene project aka Washed Out’s live performance. Following Ghost Beach, all of those rumblings came true. The set was tight and the groove was steady. Greene played tracks mostly off his recent 3rd studio album Paracosm. Though my likeness lies anywhere on the first release Life of Lesuire, the whole set made the younger festival crowd dance. Reviewed By Brian Litwin


Scottish three-piece musical group CHVRCHES took full command of their audience at the West Stage, living up to the buzz they’ve created as one of the most promising new bands of 2013. Playing their catchy, well-remixed track “Recover” and popular live version of “The Mother We Share” – Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty received perhaps the most arousing reaction from the youthful crowd as they played music off their debut album The Bones of What You Believe, out September 24th on Glassnote Records. It was in the following moments that Doherty busted out in frenetic dance with Cook, Mayberry, and roughly 15,000 others following suit. Reviewed By Charlie Walker


Over on the main stage, poppy, preppy indie quartet of Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij and Chris Tomson played to the over flowing (of people and rain water) Merriwether Post Pavilion. When the band finally appeared, they killed it. Being only three albums deep into their career, Vampire Weekend has a numerous amount of hits and singles. Listing off their setlist would be pointless; they played anything and everything. They also proved that they can and will be (soon, mark our words) a headlining act of festivals of this size. Reviewed By Brian Litwin


Another were another act I had been dying to see live, and lucky for the rain drenched crowd they played the covered pavilion stage. Fresh off the their 3rd studio and self-titled release, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Ban Wyngarden’s set sent shock waves through the soaked crowd. To little surprise, fans did not respond well to their newer songs, but become uproarious when playing hits like “Weekend Wars”, “Time To Pretend”, “The Youth” and “Electric Feel”. Though the coolest part of the set may have been the giant cowbell played by a Virgin Mobile-wielding-fan during “Your Life Is A Lie”. Reviewed By Brian Litwin


Finishing out FreeFest’s West Stage was Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights, who’s been profoundly touring the country after releasing his newest, highly anticipated album A Color Map of the Sun via Pretty Lights Music. With rainfall remaining steady, the crowd was radiating with smiles and eagerness of what would be the best display of lights, bass, and energy of perhaps the entire festival. Icing on the cake? The beautiful stranger beside me, dripping wet with glitter from head to toe, as she mischievously looks over at me and whispers, “Just wait for ‘Hot Like Sauce,’” as she grinned from ear to ear while pulling packets of hot sauce from her neon fanny pack. Reviewed By Charlie Walker


This 18 year old French native may be the second coming of the great powerhouse that is the French EDM scene. Being so young, Hugo Leclercq has seen a lot in the touring circuit, but a continual 7 hour rain in the middle of Maryland, might be something new to him. No matter, the Virgin Mobile Freefest crowd went nuts, seemingly doing a rain dance to Madeon’s set. Playing a slew of popular club hits and his own “Pop Culture” and “The City”, Hugo closed the Dance Forest stage quite nicely to the drippy, muddy ravers. Reviewed By Brian Litwin

Virgin Mobile FreeFest (Official)




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