In 2009, as the country struggled through the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash, the two-day Virgin Festival became a one-day FreeFest. Richard Branson and co brought big-name acts to Merriweather Post Pavilion and gave away free tickets to 50,000 people. The tradition has, remarkably, continued, and 2012’s incarnation of FreeFest felt quite a bit like 2009, albeit with a bit less gimmickry (that year featured skydivers and Branson handing out free beers with Flava Flav of Public Enemy).
There were some challenges shooting here. The fest had three stages as usual: the “pavilion stage” (Merriweather’s main stage), the “West stage,” and the dance forest. The lighting at the pavilion stage generally sucked and the pit was tiny, making it impossible to move around for the later acts. The West stage had a nice huge pit but the stage was extremely high, probably five and a half feet, and featured a big extension in center that, bizarrely, almost none of the performers used. So, wide-angle shots at this stage were generally fruitless. Finally, the dance forest also featured a very high stage, and all of the DJs stood behind a table, and we weren’t allowed onstage to shoot. For all these reasons, I’m only moderately happy with my band shots, and actually am much more excited about the crowd shots I got (some favorites of which I’ll slap up in a separate post).
Here are a few of the decent performance shots I did get, in chronological order. Local favorite The Dismemberment Plan is highlighted above.
Justin Jones (well, his drummer):
Future Islands, by far the photographic highlight:
Portgual. the Man:
Trampled By Turtles:
The Dismemberment Plan again:
Skrillex, for whom we had to shoot from FOH without any raised platform:
For more photos, check out the article at the Washington City Paper. It’s a huge and unwieldy slideshow combining my photos with those of fellow WCP photog Erica Bruce, so here are direct links to each individual artist:
Jack White (Erica’s photos only)
Trampled By Turtles
The Dismemberment Plan
Portugal. the Man
Above & Beyond
Finally, here’s a link to my full photo set on Flickr, which includes some band photos not included in the City Paper slideshow.