HFStival: An oral history

In the 1990s and early 2000s, the HFStival was a summit for area alt-rock lovers.

Organized by the late WHFS-FM, the festival boasted acts such as the Violent Femmes, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Coldplay, as well as myriad local and regional bands. It was many firsts for many people: Their first concert, their first time crowd surfing, their first time in a mosh pit.

Saturday, the HFStival returns to Merriweather Post Pavilion, the site of the last HFStival in 2006. Its lineup is heavy on '90s rock acts such as Third Eye Blind and Everclear.

The mere mention of the HFStival is enough to make some wax nostalgic for the HFStivals of years past. Here are a few memories from not so long ago.

Bryan Burkert, owner of Fells Point indie record store Sound Garden: "The festival was one of the first in the region. …They were always right on the cusp.

"When HFStival was in its heyday, they had all the alternative music that was breaking; some of the great alternative acts. You could get a lot of really good bands playing in one day. It was a party."

Jon Bailey of the Baltimore-based Jon Bailey Band: "WHFS was a station that kind of defined our times in high school. The first time I listened to Radiohead was on there.

"I went to the very first HFStival. This was in the mid-'90s. I went with a couple of high school buddies. None of us had been to concerts before that. We had a lot of fun. I don't even remember who played. HFStival summarized high school for us. It encompassed the overall experience of growing up in the '90s."

Mike Hall of the Baltimore rock group Sick Sick Birds: "I loved the station. I was a teen in the late '80s and I loved what they played then. It was WHFS and the Towson radio station pretty exclusively.

"I haven't gone since the mid-'90s. What I remember was sitting on a blanket on a nice day with friends and seeing They Might be Giants."

The HFStival is Saturday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Doors open at 11 a.m. Tickets are $35-$50. Call 877-435-9849 or go to ticketfly.com.

Erik Maza

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