Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Who headline Saturday's Virgin Festival
Masked by tents, blankets, bottles, thousands of people and a notable lack of horses, the Pimlico Race Track, home of the Preakness horse race, became unrecognizable Saturday. If not for the grandstands, a pole marked "Finish" and a dusty track encircling the festivities, this Saturday's Virgin Festival, hosted by Virgin Mobile, might have taken place anywhere. Indeed, this Saturday's agenda was far from equine, with a 14 band lineup that made the festival's American debut a rollicking good time.
The concert went off nearly without a hitch, according a Washington Post article. Based on its enormously popular European counterpart, which this year sold out in only three hours and drew more than 130,000 people, Saturday's festival was highly anticipated. Officials estimated that Pimlico could accommodate up to 60,000 people, but were happy with the turnout of 40,000, according to a Washington Post article.
The concert lineup itself was impressively ambitious, pulling together an eclectic mixture of big draws like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Who, smaller indie-rock favorites like the New Pornographers and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! as well as pop-rock groups like the Killers. The schedule created conflict between sets, forcing fans to make some difficult decisions. However, despite the overlap, there was little to no sound carry-over or bleeding from one stage to the next. Wolfmother, for example, played on the Grandstand Stage at extreme volumes yet was inaudible at the close by Clubhouse Stage during the much quieter and melodic New Pornographers' set.
Among the 14 bands, the most impressive were the two headliners, The Raconteurs and The New Pornographers. The Killers also put on an impressive show, having finally diverged from their ultra-produced teen pop-rock sound in favor of a more fleshed out and varying style in their forthcoming sophomore album "Sam's Town," which will hit stores Oct. 3.
Despite their advancing age, The Who played an extremely well put together and lively set, comprised of an artful blend of old classics and a few choice songs off their up and coming album, "Endless Wire." Opening with "Can't Explain," and blasting through old hits like "Pinball Wizard," "Substitute" and "Who Are You," their set never lagged in intensity. An outstanding rendition of "Baba O'Riley" and Pete Townshend's trademark wind milling finished off what was already strong proof that the Who is aging astonishingly well.
The Who was a hard act to follow, as Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers noted during their set. "We're proud to play on the same stage as the Who," he said. However, the co-headliners measured up with little difficulty. Following a late and somewhat sloppy start, the band quickly warmed up, playing a mix of older material and songs off their most recent album, "Stadium Arcadium," which they released last Spring. Despite their funk-rock strengths, the Red Hot Chili Peppers emphasized their slower, more melody-driven fan-favorites like "Californication," "Snow (Hey Oh)" and "By The Way," with much success.
Despite the slightly haphazard appearance of their set (a late start and unorganized song lineup) the Red Hot Chili Peppers gave a noteworthy performance. The strength of their material in conjunction with Flea's artistic bass line and John Frusciante's evocative guitar riffs negated any quality lost with their apparent disorganization. Their hour and a half long set ended to thunderous applause and an encore including Frusciante's tribute to Elton John with a very well received cover of "Tiny Dancer."
Gnarls Barkley, the newer and intensely popular soul-hip-hop band, came dressed as Roman Warriors, introducing themselves as the "Chariots of Fire." In spite of their antics, the performance itself was decidedly mediocre, aside from "Crazy," their hit single and a big crowd pleaser.
The long-awaited Virgin Festival's first annual United States appearance featured strong performances from a notable collection of musicians, bringing together music lovers from multiple generations for a day of hardcore musical revelry. As hot, humid, sweaty and crowded as the 2006 Virgin Fest was, the entertainment was sublime, the venue well suited to the event. As the Red Hot Chili Pepper's Anthony Kiedis put it, the festival was "a silo of love."
Courtney Burtraw. Courtney Burtraw is an incoming junior who is excited to be joining the Silver Chips Online staff. Outside of school, she enjoys playing soccer, reading, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and sometimes running track and cross-country. She is in love with Johnny Depp, but … More »