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The Virgin Mobile FreeFest is like that time you bought a Groupon for Virginia wine-country tasting. Your clique lacks cohesion because it consists of people that back-doored into the deal or have a tenuous connection to the driver. There’s goat cheese, wine slushies, and Ben Folds Five.
When you finally get there, you might find that the schedule is almost entirely free of conflicting set times. (I don’t know how many ZZ Top heads are also really into French electro king Anthony Gonzalez.) Make it a priority to see The Dismemberment Plan and Baltimore’s synthpop philosophers Future Islands. The Alabama Shakes, too, because they make hungry-eyed blues about being young and in love, and they also recently put out the best Starbucks record since Back to Black.
Das Racist’s literate-to-a-fault private school hip-hop will enlighten between sets from fruitless Converse ads like Portugal. The Man and Santigold. Nas should perform revitalized standards after hip-hop bloggers made scathing claims on Twitter that he lifted passages penned by Jay Electronica and Dead Prez’s stic.man for 2008’s Untitled. Expect his 1999, rapper-on-the-cross anthem “Hate Me Now” to carry defiant weight and go over way better than his more recent stuff.
Jack White rocking out for an hour will be better than everything else. Skrillex is a series of running jokes and unhinged ideas, but I’ll let the kids drop their bass. My big takeaway last year was that the dance forest goes H.A.M. after sunset, so if you’re stumbling home, check out London’s Above & Beyond before they leave because the DJ trio hangs its hat on moving masses.
And above all, follow me at @AThousandGrams for my live coverage of the festival on Saturday.