Big names at Virgin Fest

When the Virgin Mobile Festival returns to Pimlico Race Course this summer, it will bring two full days of A-list artists from a wide range of musical genres.

The lineup, which organizers are expected to announce today, includes legendary rockers Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry and Iggy Pop & The Stooges, as well as hip-hop stars Lil Wayne and Lupe Fiasco and indie rockers Cat Power and Wilco, along with roughly 30 other acts.


"We didn't have a blockbuster headliner like we had with The Police last year," said promoter Seth Hurwitz, chairman of IMP, which booked the festival. "We've learned what people want -- a whole day of music, not some big act and a bunch of littler ones."

Instead of having one main stage and one secondary stage as in previous years, this year's festival, slated for Aug. 9 and 10, features two identically sized main stages.


"It's going to be kind of like two Madison Square Gardens on one infield," said festival publicist Audrey Fix Schaefer.

There will also be a dance tent, featuring music by Moby, Underworld, DJ Dan and Donald Glaude and about 10 others.

Filling multiple days with engaging artists can be a daunting task, said Tim Walther, who books the All Good Festival, the region's biggest jam-band festival, which drew nearly 20,000 people last year.

"It's challenging, financially," Walther said. "You spend a ton of money on the headliners. A lot of times, you can blow your budget on the headliners, and you don't have much of a budget" left.

This year, there isn't one giant act on the Virgin Mobile Festival bill that overshadows the rest of the performers, Walther said. Because of this, the festival will benefit as a whole.

"It's a much stronger lineup than last year," Walther said. "I think [the festival] is going to have a much bigger turnout."

Single-day general admission tickets are $97.50 -- the same as the previous two years -- and $250 for VIP. Two-day passes are $175 for general admission and $450 for VIP.

Keeping single-day ticket prices under $100 has been a priority for Hurwitz from the start, he said.


"We should have raised ticket prices last year, and now we really ought to," he said. "But I just want to get people to start going to this thing and falling in love with it. We're going to keep ticket prices down."

As of late last week, Hurwitz said the lineup was still not finalized, and more artists may be added in the coming weeks. He left a handful of slots open, which will give him extra flexibility to bring in the best available acts.

"The criteria really was, 'What are the best, best, best bands we can book?'" Hurwitz said. "I can't wait until the day of the show."

Virgin Mobile Festival lineup

Here is the lineup for this year's Virgin Mobile Festival, in alphabetical order. More acts may be added in the coming months, organizers said.



Main stages:

Bloc Party, Cat Power, Chuck Berry and The Silver Beats, Citizen Cope, Duffy, Foo Fighters, Gogol Bordello, Jack Johnson, KT Tunstall, Lupe Fiasco, The Offspring, Paramore, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, The Swell Season and Wilco.

Dance tent:

DJ Dan and Donald Glaude, Erol Alkan, Ferry Corsten, Soulwax, Steve Lawler and Underworld.



Main stages:

The Black Keys, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Bob Dylan, The Go! Team, Iggy Pop & The Stooges, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Nine Inch Nails, She & Him, Stone Temple Pilots and Taking Back Sunday.

Dance tent:

Armin van Buuren, Chromeo, Deadmau5, Pendulum, Moby and Richie Hawtin.

[Sam Sessa]