Daylong HFStival has issues to beat the band

May 13, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

It used to be that rock festivals offered music and music only. Bands played, fans watched, and if nobody rioted or fell off the stage, the event was considered a success.

But ever since Lollapalooza proved that alternative rock fans were interested in issues beyond who was onstage, there has been an increase in the amount of nonmusical entertainment offered at rock festivals. So when the WHFS-sponsored HFStival kicks off Saturday morning at RFK Stadium, there will be more going on than just music on two stages.

Perhaps the most ambitious aspect of the festival will be the Who Cares Action Fair. Organized under the aegis of Who Cares: A Journal of Service and Action, the fair will emphasize volunteer action as a means of social change.

Representatives from more than 125 nonprofit social and political action groups will be on hand to answer questions from festival-goers -- and, more importantly, offer information on how to get involved.

Among the groups participating are Amnesty International, the Center for Policy Alternatives, Clean Water Action, the Corporation for National Service, Empty the Shelters, the Feminist Majority Foundation, Good Shepherd Ministries, Greenpeace, Handgun Control Inc., Literacy Volunteers of America, Peace Action, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, So Others Might Eat, the Sierra Club and Women for Women in Bosnia.

WHFS isn't just offering space to these causes, either; a portion of the proceeds from the sold-out event will go to "doingsomething," an all-volunteer agency that helps coordinate volunteer activities in the Baltimore-Washington area.

Not all of the sideshow attractions will be that uplifting, though. Naturally, there will be food and T-shirt stands, but the nonmusical entertainment doesn't stop there. Some of it will be quietly respectable, some of it vaguely bizarre, but none of it appears to be any worse than the bands playing.

Among the more low-key offerings are a Make Your Own Video booth, and an installation of local artists sculpting models of Washington monuments from "floam" (a modeling compound that appears to be Mattel's answer to Play-Doh). There will also be a Human Petting Zoo, which will feature a genuine CPA!

On the wilder side is the Gak Pit, in which a slime-like substance is poured into a pit, and punters are invited to wade through the gunk in search of prizes. (Please, don't throw any at the bands. It annoys them.)

Members of James will hand out autographs and promotional condoms (!) from 1:30 to 2 p.m., after which members of the Meat Puppets will do body painting at 2 (bring your own body).

HFStival schedule

Toad the Wet Sprocket is just one of the bands scheduled to perform on the main stage at the HFStival. Also on the bill are Counting Crows (who will return to RFK in August to open for the Rolling Stones), Rollins Band, Cracker, the Violent Femmes, the Afghan Whigs, James, the Meat Puppets and Pavement.

There will be even more music on the second stage.

Among the more noteworthy performers: Madder Rose, The Greenberry Woods (from Baltimore, in case you didn't know),

Gigolo Aunts, Edsel and Tuscadero (from D.C.).

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