Ultimate Mobility

Rocker Jack White, left, and electronic artist Skrillex, right, headline this year’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest.

It’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest time again, with the huge concert taking over the grounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion. If you’ve already scored tickets, chances are you’re psyched to see either Jack White (who has yet to play a solo show in the area) or Skrillex (the hottest thing in electronic music). Or maybe you’re not sure how to spend the day. Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

You Like Hip-Hop

You’re mostly out of luck. Outside of Das Racist, the only true rapper on the bill is Nas. We could consider Santigold a hip-hop act, but that would be offensive to Nas.

You’re a Rocker

You have options. Want to turn back the clock? Try the soulful, retro sounds of one of this year’s buzziest bands (and Jack White tour mates) Alabama Shakes. Feeling funky? There’s the R&B-flavored rock of Allen Stone or the neo-hippie vibes of Portugal. The Man. And if you just want to chill, check out the delicate harmonies of Trampled by Turtles and the acoustic folk of 9:30 Club Records recording artist Justin Jones.

You’re Old

You probably won’t want to be at Virgin Fest. Yet every year, festival organizers throw an act or two on the bill to appease the elders (Patti Smith and Joan Jett, for example). This year, the honor goes to Texas beardos ZZ Top, who recently released the career-revitalizing, Rick Rubin-produced “La Futura.”

You Enjoy Reunions

Like your ticket, nostalgia comes free of charge at FreeFest, but please bring your own tissues. D.C. favorite The Dismemberment Plan continues its seemingly never-ending reunion tour, and the just-reunited Ben Folds Five keeps the dream of the ’90s alive.

You Want to Dance

Perhaps in an effort to confine the fest’s groove-enhancer intake to one sector of the grounds, FreeFest has corralled all the electronic acts (with the exception of headliner Skrillex) into the Dance Forest behind the pavilion lawn. Free your mind and get a full-body workout to DJs and EDM acts Above & Beyond, Porter Robinson & Zedd, Thomas Gold, Nervo, Alvin Risk and Penguin Prison.

You Read Pitchfork

You probably already know who you’re seeing: French electro-poppers M83 have been highly touted by the site; “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is one of the top-rated albums of the past year. (Nonreaders should check out the addictive saxophone solo in “Midnight City” immediately.) Das Racist practically owes its career to Pitchfork, which helped launch the Brooklyn rap trio’s viral hit “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” (The group has since proven they can rap about things other than fast food.) And Baltimore’s Future Islands will fill the ever-present hole in any Smiths fan’s heart.

How to Get Tickets

If you didn’t score tickets when they went “on-free,” you’re not shut out of FreeFest: You can still get tickets by checking the Virgin Mobile Live Facebook page and Twitter (@Virginmlive) for giveaways. Or, you can volunteer your time to help the homeless, as part of the FreeIP program, in exchange for a ticket. Lastly, you can pony up $49.50 for the Freemium package, which includes one ticket, a charitable donation, a T-shirt and souvenir cup (with free refills of nonalcoholic drinks) and early admission.

Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, Md.; Sat., 11 a.m.; 410-715-5550.
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Marc Silver · October 4, 2012