Merriweather gets HFStival

March 29, 2006|By LAURA CADIZ | LAURA CADIZ,SUN REPORTER

The HFStival two-day rock concert is headed back to the Baltimore area, coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion during Memorial Day weekend.

The lineup of 60 acts is scheduled to be announced Monday for the music festival at the Columbia amphitheater, which will take place May 27-28. Tickets go on sale April 8.

"We think this is one of the best lineups the festival has ever had," said David Geller, vice president for business development for I.M.P., which manages the pavilion. "It's a real diverse lineup."

In its 17th year, the festival has become the largest musical festival on the East Coast, drawing people from around the region, said Mike Murphy, program director of radio station WHFS (105.7 FM), which puts on the festival.

To accommodate the popular festival, Merriweather is expanding its typical 20,000-person capacity to 27,500 each day. The pavilion stage will act as the main stage, and stages will also be added in the parking lot and in Symphony Woods, which surrounds the venue, said Geller.

"We are thrilled to have the event at Merriweather," Geller said. "We are big corporate fans of the event, and we are big personal fans of the music they program there. ... We feel like we have landed a big opportunity for Howard County and Columbia."

Murphy predicted that people will be "very surprised" at the lineup of bands, adding that it will cover a broad range of acts.

Robert Philips, senior vice president of CBS radio in Baltimore, hinted that the acts will include "some artists that you might have seen at the Grammys."

This year will mark the third time the Baltimore area has played host to the festival, which has typically been at Washington-area venues.

Last year, the festival was held at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium and drew about 53,000 people with bands like Coldplay, Good Charlotte and the Foo Fighters.

Philips said Merriweather officials were "very aggressive" about wanting the HFStival, and organizers felt the open-air venue -- which is surrounded by trees and nestled between Baltimore and Washington -- would be an ideal environment.

"We wanted to kind of bring it back home to its roots, where it's a festival-type of environment, rather than on a blacktop parking lot," Philips said. "People can't really put blankets down on blacktop."

laura.cadiz@baltsun.com

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