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It seems the organizers of the HFStival are on as much of a retro kick as we are these days: If you read our Summer Music Guide, you’ll know we’re a little skeptical about alt-rock’s return to summer stages. Meanwhile, the HFStival has its sights set on September, and feels OK about resurrecting some ghosts of the ’90s.
The annual concert of D.C.’s erstwhile flagship alternative station, WHFS, is back this year for the first time since 2006. It’s set for Sept. 18 at Merriweather Post Pavillian, and here’s the mainstage bill, which organizers announced today: Third Eye Blind, Billy Idol, Everclear, Ed Kowalczyk of Live, the Presidents of the United States of America, Fuel, Lit, and Marcy Playground. Ooph.
Sam Rogers, who’s a senior vice president and market manager of CBS Radio Washington, D.C., and a former general manager of WHFS, said last week that there’s an audience for the nostalgia-minded bill—-all the bands on the mainstage played an HFStival during its heyday. “I’ve thought about it for years,” Rogers said. “Over the summer, I guess it was last summer, I thought, Why not? HFStival is a brand unto itself.”
“I looked at it like a concert event similar to a Virgin Fest or Warped Tour—it doesn’t have a terrestrial radio station,” he said. “I believe there is a tremendous thirst for that event. The radio station never had great ratings, but the event always sold out.”
He says not to expect the fratty, booze-soaked atmosphere that long characterized HFStivals, which were usually set at stadiums like RFK and FedEx Field. “I kind of think it’ll be a little older than that,” Rogers says. “It’s the people who remember WHFS.” The audience he’s shooting for is between about 25 and 40, both concertgoers who remember the station—-it went off the air in 2005, but still exists as an HD station at 94.7 HD2—-and ones who are simply looking for a fun, outoor time.
Rogers says two factors will make the concert work: “Nobody wants to admit they’re old and classic,” he says, so they’ll welcome a chance to rock out like it’s 1998. Plus: “It won’t be $65.”
Not every former HFStival performer got tapped for this year’s big show, however. As of last week, my colleague Brian Nelson—-who used to play in Velocity Girl, which opened the 1993 HFStival—-still hadn’t received any offers. He seemed pretty OK with that.