Experimental hip-hop artist M.I.A., electro-rockers LCD Soundsystem, reunited alt-rock band Pavement and rappers Ludacris and T.I. (pictured) will headline this year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest, organizers announced today.

The free festival, which returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 25, will feature another 12 acts, including Joan Jett, Thievery Corporation, Chromeo and Jimmy Eat World, on two stages and a dance area.

Tickets will be up for grabs 10 a.m. Saturday at Ticketfly. Virgin Mobile customers and concertgoers who attended previous festivals will receive texts and e-mail invitations to apply for advance tickets on Friday ...


In all, more than 30,000 tickets will be given away, and a limited number of pavilion seats will be sold for $125.

Instead of booking one or two big-name acts and a dozen smaller groups, festival producer Seth Hurwitz opted for "important" groups which he thinks will appeal to music lovers.

"This year, more than ever, we've taken a curator approach -- one might even call it a velvet rope approach," Hurwitz said. "No, there's not the People Magazine-type celebrity band, but that's the point. You come to this show, and you will leave knowing a lot more about some great music than before you came."

Hurwitz is looking forward to seeing Joan Jett, who is one of his guilty pleasures, he said.

"She's played here and there, but she's never played around here in such a cool setting and really been appreciated," he said. "She tends to play stuff more geared toward the old audience, but I can't wait until kids see how great she is."

The $125 tickets will guarantee patrons a seat in the pavilion, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit charity. The rest will help fund the festival, Hurwitz said.

"Putting this many bands on for free is not exactly steeped in reality, but we're trying to make it work," he said.

Fans snapped up the nearly 35,000 tickets for last year's festival, which featured headliners Blink-182 and Weezer, in less than a half hour. And charity initiatives raised more than $80,000 and 30,000 volunteer hours to help battle youth homelessness and other local programs.

(Top photo of T.I. by Getty Images. Bottom photo of last year's Virgin Mobile FreeFest by Christopher T. Assaf/Baltimore Sun)