With the success of bringing the first Virgin Festival to the United States last year, Virgin Group owner Richard Branson decided to try his luck again. The 2nd annual Virgin Festival, chalk full of various artists including the Police, the Beastie Boys, and the Smashing Pumpkins, spanned over a weekend on the Pimlico race course in Baltimore, Maryland once again.
I arrived Saturday morning after a six hour drive through the wee hours of the morning. As tired as I was, I was more excited to attend this excellent festival a second year in a row. This year the Virgin Fest took place about a month and a half earlier; last year the event took place in late September. The only problem with this was the summer heat.
With temperatures soaring almost to the triple digits I slopped sunscreen on my exposed body parts, threw on a bandanna, a hat, and prepared for the misery the sun expelled on all who attended.
The setting was very simple, there was the main stage (North Stage), a second stage (South Stage), and a DJ tent and various food, merch, and awareness vendors. Everything was at a reasonable distance within the horse race track where bands did not have their performance collide while playing at the same time. The festival was recycle friendly with various stations around the ground promoting recycling. Most stations had an attendant standing there to help distinguish the trash. To make things even more earth friendly, some of the plastic cups were not actually plastic but made of a corn substance that would decompose. If that was not cool enough there was a stand where people could win points for merch by picking up recyclable trash off the ground.
The first act I caught was Fountains Of Wayne (FOW). The only song I ever knew by these guys was “Stacy’s Mom” and I really was not expecting much. FOW put on an amazing show rifling through a set that included rock and even a little country. They were an excellent choice for an opening band as they grabbed the attention of many. I look forward to checking out their catalog now that I know they are not really a once hit wonder band. To the disappointment of many one-hit-wonder lovers, “Stacy’s Mom” was not performed and that, to me, was a bold move on their behalf.
Up next was old rockers Cheap Trick. It was great to see a band that has been around so long take the stage and rock out. Rick Neilson entertained the crowd as Robin Zander kept up with his vocals. My most memorable moment with this band was all of the guitars Rick Neilson played with. I have never seen so many unique guitars played in one performance. Rick Nelson even tried to give one away to a lucky girl in the front row but security did not like that gesture and quickly took it away.