It’s become one of my favorite activities of early summer: predicting the bands that will play at this year’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest. Last year wasn’t my strongest effort, but there will still a few hits among the misses.
Before digging in, it should be noted that we don’t even know for sure that there will be a FreeFest this year. (Otherwise it surely would have been included in our Summer Concert Guide.) There’s been no word either way from promoter I.M.P., but since this is traditionally a late-summer affair, there’s still plenty of time for that confirmation to roll in. It will make our list of free summer music look a whole lot better
These are educated guesses combined with a bit of wild speculation: Bands that are on big tours but haven’t announced a local date; acts that have historically played at 9:30 Club or I.M.P.-sponsored shows when in town. That kind of thing.
My prediction for this year’s headliner. He’s playing festivals all over and has no D.C. date anywhere on his calendar. White has always played I.M.P. shows whether it was with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs or the Dead Weather. And in the middle of setlist pictures, videos promoting upcoming shows and interviews with bands at the club, why is there a review of White’s solo debut, “Blunderbuss,” on the 9:30 Club Tumblr?
Here’s another band that just announced a bunch of tour dates without a local date. Another band that was oddly reviewed on that 9:30 Tumblr. And just some wishful thinking, too: After seeing the Baltimore-based band play as the sun set at Merriweather while opening for Vampire Weekend a couple summers ago, a performance in the same time slot would be nice.
Like Beach House, Deacon is a local favorite who hails from Baltimore. He even has Virgin Festival pedigree — he was the first performer on Day 2 of the festival back in 2007 when it was still at Pimlico. (His set started a couple minutes late because he needed a single D battery for a piece of equipment.)
The up-and-coming rock group last played D.C. at the 9:30 Club on New Year’s Eve and since then was seen at Rams Head Live in Baltimore, a show sponsored by I.M.P. They are doing the festival circuit, which is smart because their classic rock throwback sound should play well in a big, outdoor space.
It’s always smart money to bet on the Roots playing at any festival, especially in this area.
Other guesses: Santigold, Passion Pit, Volta Bureau