HFS-tival is a real crowd-pleaser Festival: Fighting their way to RFK, fighting their way from the mosh pit, rock fans say it's worth it.

June 03, 1996|By Chris Kridler | Chris Kridler,SUN STAFF

Getting there was not half the fun Saturday for rock fans heading to the HFS-tival at Washington's RFK stadium, but most of them made up for lost revelry.

The sold-out rock festival, sponsored by radio station WHFS-FM (99.1), filled the stadium and the parking lots surrounding it, not only with music from Foo Fighters, the Presidents of the United States of America, Cracker, Gin Blossoms, Garbage, Afghan Whigs, Everclear, No Doubt, Lush, Jawbox and Goldfinger, but with vendors, political reps, goofy games, fair food, drunkards and other ecstatic fans.

Many braved nasty traffic jams on the Baltimore- Washington Parkway and a Metro overloaded with participants in the children's rally. For some, the only obstacle was overcoming their memories of last year.

"We lost all our things; it was terrible," said Pam South, 29, who was taking the Metro with fellow University of Maryland Baltimore County student Chris Morgan, 27. Last year, she even hurt her hand in the crush of the crowd. Why return? "Because he's making me," she said of Morgan.

At the stadium, between bands on the main stage, the big electronic sign again flashed witticisms: "Remember, it's not the heat . . . Correction: Apparently it is in fact the heat!"

In the shade of the stands, breezes kept people cool, but on the field, which was covered with plastic sheeting and then the blankets that many had brought, elbow-to-elbow fans felt like ants -- colorful, half-naked ants -- being fried by a wicked child wielding a magnifying glass. The speakers were so loud, hearts skipped beats, while the sun seemed to intensify the scents of lotion, cigarettes, cooking meat, sweat, marijuana and perfume.

"It's too hot, and too many bodies," said Anisa Cott Ahangarzadeh, 20, of Adelphi, who was playing cards with a group of friends on the field.

Said her husband, Cavon, 22: "I think it's an outward symbol of an inner truth of youth in our society. Everybody has a lot of energy, but they don't know which direction to go in."

If you didn't know which way to go, you could let the crowd carry you. Literally. Directly in front of the stage, moshing was the rule as fans were passed over people's heads. Some enjoyed the thrill and moshed to everything, including Wayne Newton's "Danke Schoen," one of the songs played between acts. Others were glad to get out alive -- many by making it to the front and being hauled over the fence by burly security guys.

Emergency workers, who saw mostly heat- and alcohol-related problems but also broken bones and cuts, treated a steady stream of injuries. Cots were set up backstage to accommodate them.

Burlie Sholar, 22, from Woodbridge, Va., braved the mosh pit. "Basically, I got mugged," he joked. In the process, he lost his Nikes and got his $85 Oakley sunglasses crushed.

"You just kind of stay on your feet and try to help people up," he said. ". . . You're not really worried about shoes. You're not even worried if they take your clothes off. You just want to get out of there."

Six or seven people who lost footwear tried to buy some from Bart Harris of Simple Shoes, one of the vendors, but all he had were demo models.

There was still plenty of buying going on. This is what the New Age has come to: fortune tellers and incense-sellers nearly drowned out by pulsing rock. Human bowling was free, but in fact, it was just another promotion, for the movie "Kingpin." The ,, folks selling silly hats did well, as proven by the many Cat-in-the-Hat clones wandering about, and so did the T-shirt hawkers.

Some went out of their way to take their shirts off. There were bikini tops. Bra tops. No tops. No shoes. No hair. Pink hair. (Pink hair was very big this year. Even rocker Joan Jett, once known for her jet-black tresses, sported a short pink 'do when she introduced Garbage.)

There were plenty of other distractions from the music, including mist-makers to cool people off and a machine producing soap suds. Among the sud-covered frolickers was Alex Ciccone, 10, of Woodlawn. She didn't go to the children's march because her mom had already bought festival tickets but said she wanted to: "We have our rights, too."

Speaking of rights, the "action tent" didn't get as much action as soft-serve ice cream, but there were still browsers checking out abortion rights, animal rights, death penalty opposition, anti-hunger efforts, conservation, hosteling and unions. The Clinton/Gore '96 campaigners claimed to be happy with the result.

Other consumers had questions more important than the fate of America. "Where do we find beer at?" asked a determined woman at a sandwich stand.

Teresa Daub, 28, of the grass-roots Maryland Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition, was happy so many people were taking the "It's OK not to drink" buttons her group was offering. The organization was offering free T-shirts to underage kids who blew a 0.0 on a Breathalyzer test in the afternoon.

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