Music festivals usually go one of two ways: They’re free (RIP, Virgin Mobile Freefest) or they’re prohibitively expensive. One creates populist optics and attracts casual concertgoers alongside diehard fans; the other trades on exclusivity and underlines the privilege of having $200 to blow on a weekend-long concert.
It looks like the Landmark Music Festival, a two-day affair coming to D.C. this September, wants to have its cake and make bank on it, too.
First, festival organizers announced the event at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening, and by 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, they’d already bumped two-day ticket prices from the early-early-bird rate of $100 to $150. (The price will eventually jump to $175, then $200. One day passes will become available this summer at $105.)
And while eager fans of Drake and the Strokes are laying down serious cash for tickets, Landmark’s keeping mum on two free ways to see the show, which is being staged in part to raise money for the renovation of the National Mall.
On Tuesday, press received two news releases about the event: one with a letterhead from the Trust for the National Mall (the concert’s beneficiary) and one bearing the logo of the Landmark Music Festival. The former mentioned that a free area of the festival would be open to non-ticketholders and that a forthcoming lottery for free tickets was in the works. The other didn’t. There’s no information about the free tickets or free public area on the festival’s website, nor in its advertisements in the Washington Post and on City Paper‘s website.
In an email, an event spokesperson told me that there will be a free area near the festival grounds where the performances will be broadcast on a Jumbotron. For the type of person who likes music festivals for the crammed-in, sweaty bodies, the drugs, and the atmosphere of celebration, this might be a close enough approximation of the paid festival to be a hell of a lot more attractive than the $150 to $200 ticket option. The free area will have its own concession stands and “special appearances,” too.
For those who’d rather hold out for the full experience, Landmark will hold a lottery for 1,000 free general admission passes in coming weeks. Of course, by then, organizers will have already raked in thousands from festivalgoers who didn’t know they had the choice.