Virgin Festival : Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, MD 8/4 & 8/5/07

Now two-years old in the states, the UK-based Virgin Festival (V Fest)  was expanded to a two-day event featuring The Police, Smashing Pumpkins, Beastie Boys and Velvet Revolver.  Virgin CEO Richard Branson was on hand, along with Darryl Hannah, to tout the fest’s environmental efforts and scheduled musicians.  Besides the big headliners, V Fest had such attractions as the g-spot, a green space for concert-goers to chill and learn new ways to pamper the Earth.  If being green is not your thing, you could’ve watched the Charm City Roller Girls, Incredibly Strange Wrestling, and witnessed the acrobatic antics of the burlesque duo Trixie Little & the Evil Hate Monkey.

Sure, it was a clear indication of global-climate change in Baltimore during V Fest, with the heat index hitting 103 degrees on Saturday, but with all the fest’s well-planned distractions, we witnessed lots of stage antics from that of Amy Winehouse and Scott Weiland.  Seven-hundred miles away from Baltimore’s 140-acre Pimlico Race Course was another music festival called Lollapalloza which some music fans may have attended instead of this summer’s V Fest, but  we think Baltimore was the winner for the weekend.

Ten Things You Missed If You Weren’t at Pimlico

 Regina Spektor: The humble, bubbly, uber-talented Russian born songwriter sung appropriately of "cleavage, cleavage, cleavage" (“Summer in the City”) and other humorously dark topics.  A real highlight of the sweat fest and, according to attendee Elliot Knowles, she personified "the evolution of Tori Amos."

Beastie Boys: The NYC boys can still sling some rhymes and command a stage.  With DJ Mix Master Mike throwing down the beats,  Ad Rock stirred up the crowd with his stage banter, calling Baltimore “Ball-town.”  He also poked fun of their failed attempts to complete a punk-rock song, saying "it’s a great song, check it out on our third album."  The Beastie Boys mixed it up with instrumentals, classics, stage antics, and could have easily commanded the sing-a-long audience for another hour.  Hey, and Baltimore got a new nickname.

Incubus: “Megalomaniac” was the climactic point of this furious set by the California-based five-piece.  Mid-Atlantic fans of rock crowd surfed, rocked out, and pounded their fists in the air despite a desert-like 103 degrees on Saturday.  Their eclectic mix of rock, rap, pop, and punk was worth the price of general admission alone; a highlight of the entire fest.

The Police: Many wanted to hate this reunion; however, Stewart Copeland, Sting and Andy Summers are again a tight trio, keeping the sweaty, tired crowd pleased up through "King of Pain" and many clasics.  Some songs were too jazzy (Sting-lite) in arrangement, but overall a powerful set.

Modest Mouse: A consistent, Iasac Brock-fueled set.  The eccentric lead singer sweated through a few layers as he lead his crew through its infectious hits and crowd faves, including "Float On," "Fire It Up," and “Dashboard.” Alt-rock icon, Johnny Marr was a precision disco-guitar machine, also singing backup vocals; it’s as if he’s been in the band for decades.

Matisyahu: The Hasidic rapper became one with the crowd in a spiritual and literal way.  After his energetic set, he was seen walking with body-guards around the festival grounds.  In a Bono-esque moment with his band, the bearded artist climbed the stage rig and rejoiced.

Dance Tent: Girl Talk and the singing spin master, Dan Deacon had the crowd sweating and pulsing to his mixes.  Throughout most of both days, the tent was packed shoulder-to-shoulder.

Wu Tang Clan: The crowd on Sunday seemed to be there just for this rap collective, as even Matisyahu joined them on stage.  Rapper Method Man played off the crowd’s energy, amped it up, and led the Wu crew into a romping review of their latest and greatest.  Lots of Ws being displayed as the crew proclaimed they weren’t “nothing to fuck with.”  Indeed.

Smashing… um, yeah.  Really just a new band with Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin center stage.  Loud, proud, and well,… loud.  Nothing new here.  An uninspired performance, which failed to ignite the crowd or act as an appropriate finale for V Fest. 

Baltimore:  Yes, the City that Rocks.  You know about the Inner Harbor, maybe Camden Yards.  How about Canton, Fells Point, Bertha’s mussels, steamed crabs, neighborhood pubs, Patterson Park and Federal Hill, to name a few often-missed attractions?  Once again, Baltimore proved to be an excellent host to the V Fest.  It was impressive to see local and national organizations and businesses work together with the concert production team for a highly successful, two-day event.    With the two-day attendance near 80,000, a new Baltimore tradition has been cemented. 

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