If you can make a mean salad, you can make a rock festival: The Sweetgreen salad chain’s annual Sweetlife Festival is back April 28 for the third year. Headlining the daylong concert at Merriweather Post Pavillion? Avicii, the 22-year-old Swedish house producer and DJ who’s the same age, I’d wager, as the average Sweetlife attendee. Much of the rest of the mainstage lineup skews as young, audience-wise: Kid Cudi, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Fitz and the Tantrums, fun., and A$AP Rocky. The festival’s second stage, The Treehouse, will feature “sweetgreen’s favorite new artists,” though the lineup is TBA.

Tickets, which are $75, go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. via Ticketfly and the Merriweather Post Pavilion and 9:30 Club box offices. (There’s a presale the day before on Ticketfly, though it requires you to “like” Sweetgreen or the Sweetlife Festival on Facebook. And there’s a VIP option that includes various luxuries and goodies.

So, there you have it: An EDM chart-topper, a mainstay of  skinny-jeans rap and and a skinny-jean-rap up-and-comer, some middle-of-the-road indie pop from this decade, some middle-of-the-road indie pop from last decade, and Explosions in the Sky. These kids today…

This is the second time Sweetlife will take place at Merriweather. Last year’s festival featured The Strokes, Girl Talk, Lupe Fiasco, and much fodder for this Washington City Paper cover story, in which Sadie Dingfelder decoded how Sweetgreen taps music and other cultural signifiers to, well, sell salad:

Last summer, Sweetgreen threw its first multi-band event in the parking lot next to their Dupont Circle store. And this year, the Sweetlife Festival upgraded to Merriweather, one of the region’s largest music venues, with a capacity of nearly 20,000 people.

“I remember I was at [Sweetgreen co-founder Jonathan Neman’s] house when he brought up the idea they wanted to do a festival and get The Strokes,” says Jacob Michael, the bassist for U.S. Royalty. “I thought he was crazy; I thought he was out of his mind.”

Booking one of the most influential rock bands in recent memory was an ambitious goal, but it turned out to be rather do-able, even for a comparatively puny business. The total cost of the 10 bands at the festival, according to booking estimates, could easily have totaled $350,000. But where [the founders’ hipster-networking moxy came into play was convincing some of their suppliers, including Stonyfield, Honest Tea, and Applegate Farms, to help foot the bill.

It was a pretty appealing offer: For a chunk of their marketing budget, the firms got to position themselves on the cool side of American culture. Sweetlife filled out the lineup with ostensibly up-and-coming musicians, including mash-up artist Girl Talk, electro-screamers Crystal Castles, and rapper Lupe Fiasco. “We made bets on people who are going to get bigger,” Neman says. “We want Sweetlife to be the first place people saw them.”

Of course, the groups had one other thing in common: None of them was all that edgy.

Getting into music is a smart move for a fledgling brand like Sweetgreen, says Rajeev Batra, a business professor at the University of Michigan. “People identify very deeply with their musical choices,” Batra says. “If a brand is able to link itself to a musical event, style, or performer, they can connect deeply with consumers, potentially building greater engagement and emotional loyalty.”

In case you’re curious, here’s the Sweetlife Festive press release:



The Creators of Sustainable Eatery sweetgreen Unveil Lineup for

Sweetlife Food & Music Festival, Doubling the Number of Acts

Pre-sale for sweetgreen and Sweetlife Friends Noon March 8th

Public On-sale 10am March 9th

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 7, 2012 – When sweetgreen started the Sweetlife Festival two short years ago it was in a D.C. parking lot. Granted, it was probably the most righteous parking lot ever, thanks to electronic indie fave Hot Chip, but it was a parking lot nonetheless. Last year sweetgreen, known for its network of sustainable eateries throughout the Northeast, went for it – making the huge leap to Merriweather Post Pavilion, landing The Strokes to headline and selling out Sweetlife Festival in just its second year.

This year sweetgreen is going even bigger, badder, hipper and happier; doubling the number of acts it presents and adding a second stage to accommodate all of the electronic, indie and hip hop sounds sweetlife is fast becoming known for.

Where, When and the Line-up

Today, sweetgreen announced the 2012 Sweetlife Food & Music Festival http://www.sweetlifefestival.com will take place Saturday, April 28th at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. The Main Stage will feature Avicii, Kid Cudi, The Shins, Explosions in the Sky, Fitz and the Tantrums, fun. and A$AP Rocky. The second stage, a.k.a, The Treehouse, will feature sweetgreen’s favorite new artists that will be announced soon.

Ticket Info

Pre-Sale: A limited number of tickets will be available Thursday, March 8, at Noon Eastern on http://www.ticketfly.com/.  Pre-sale tickets can only be purchased with a special code that will be made availabe to fans that “like” sweetgreen or sweetlife festival on Facebook.  The pre-sale code will appear Wednesday evening on https://www.facebook.com/sweetlifefestival and https://www.facebook.com/sweetgreen[MF1].

Public On-Sale: Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday, March 9 at 10am Eastern on ticketfly.com and the Merriweather Post Pavilion and 9:30 Club box offices.[MF2]

VIP Tickets:

There will be a limited number of VIP tickets available and they will include:

-Viewing areas (prime seating and pit access in the Main Pavilion plus viewing area at The Treehouse)

-Covered cabana lounges and seating

-Special food and drink offerings curated by Chef RJ Cooper of Rogue24

-Complimentary sweetgreen salad tasting

-Free, filtered water.

”We’ve been planning this festival since the final note was played last year, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone,” said Jonathan Neman, co-founder of sweetgreen and the Sweetlife Food & Music Festival. “We put our hearts and souls into creating this day for people who love electronic, hip hop and indie music, but also we want to serve unexpectedly great food, provide a sense of community, throw a killer party, and make people decide they’ll never miss a Sweetlife festival.”


Known throughout the Beltway and Philly for its eco-friendly eateries that feature locally sourced ingredients, wholesome and flavorful food and sustainable business practices, sweetgreen is changing the way America thinks about quick eats. The sweetlife is a lifestyle extension of the brand that allows it to identify with the people who embody its core values, educating customers while rewarding them living the “sweetlife” – a life committed to sustainability, community, and fun. The Sweetlife Food & Music Festival brings all of the ingredients for the healthy lifestyle together in one event.

Sweetlife – The Food
sweetgreen is committed to delivering healthy, sustainably sourced food options through partnerships with like-minded brands such as Honest Tea, Stonyfield, Applegate, and KIND Snack, among others.

In addition, we are joining forces with Serious Eats to present the Food Forest, showcasing brands like Jose Andres’s Pepe Truck, Shake Shack, Roberta’s Pizza and Smucker Farms. Our vision is to extend sweetgreen’s hip and eco-conscious ethos from the table to all facets of the Sweetlife – including the festival fare.

Sweetlife – Giving Back
Sweetlife Festival has partnered with DC Central Kitchen this year and will raise money to support their charitable mission to use food as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities. DCCK’s programs provide a comprehensive continuum of care to the people it serves; including food recycling, meal distribution, and a nationally recognized culinary training program to once homeless and hungry adults.
Sweetlife – The Environment

Working with Global Inheritance, Sweetlife Festival will offer interactive activities like the TRASHed:: Recycling Store, Human Hamster Wheels and Tour de Energy Bikes. Festivalgoers will be able to win points and prizes through our recycling store by recycling and composting, carpooling, shuttling and by participating in energy activities. Prizes include Honest Tea Vouchers, North Face sleeping bags, Camelbak backpacks, Skullcandy headphones and more.

About sweetgreen
Based in Washington DC and founded by Georgetown graduates Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman and Nathaniel Ru in 2007, sweetgreen makes eating healthy food both simple and tasty.  Offering a menu of fresh, sustainable eats in an eco-friendly dining environment, the forward-thinking trio of entrepreneurs at sweetgreen is redefining the concept of fresh-casual cuisine. sweetgreen serves up its signature and classic salads and frozen yogurt with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms. Committed to sustainability in all areas, sweetgreen provides an enlightened workplace for its employees as well. For more information, visit www.sweetgreen.com.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery