Virgin Fest is on track for a hot show

Brit Amy Winehouse, others will join the Police at Pimlico

April 28, 2007|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,Sun Pop Music Critic

It is sure to be the hottest two days in Baltimore.

For 48 hours this summer, some of the most daring and exciting acts in classic and alternative rock and pop will take over the city. The full lineup for the Virgin Festival by Virgin Mobile, which comes to Pimlico Race Course for the second time Aug. 4 and 5, was announced yesterday.

The 40 acts include perhaps one of the most talked-about artists of the past few months, British soul revivalist Amy Winehouse. The beehive-sporting singer-songwriter has recently garnered as much press for her rowdy, alcohol-fueled behavior as for her distinctive, full-throttle vocals. Her American debut - the uneven but occasionally brilliant Back to Black - meshes throwback '60s girl-group styles with jazzy, hip-hop attitude.

The Police - the classic '80s rock trio of Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland that has reunited after more than 20 years of inactivity - were previously announced as headliners. Perhaps the fastest-selling tour so far this summer, the Police alone are sure to draw big crowds to this year's Virgin Festival.

Tickets for the two-day festival, which will also include DJ sets and a dance tent, go on sale May 5, cost $175 for general admission and $450 for VIP. Single-day tickets, if still available, will go on sale May 19 for $97.50 general admission and $250 for VIP. Call 1-800-551-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.

Having the Police on the program helped attract other hot acts, says Seth Hurwitz, head of IMP, which booked the festival. "Having them on [the schedule] gave us the ability to spend more money on the bill. We were able to beef up the show and go crazy."

The first day of the festival will feature the aforementioned big-draw acts, as well as the groundbreaking hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, the widely acclaimed New York art-rock band TV on the Radio and hit indie-rock unit Modest Mouse. The second day includes '90s super group Smashing Pumpkins, rap titan the Wu Tang Clan, reggae-rap star Matisyahu and eclectic highly regarded Russian-born singer-songwriter Regina Spektor.

One of the biggest problems of last year's Virgin Festival, which drew 40,000, was the clogged traffic. To rectify that, Hurwitz says the Maryland Transit Administration will provide shuttle buses from the Rogers Avenue metro stop.

"The [MTA] is taking charge of this," he says. "You learn a lot after you do one of these."

With such an exciting lineup, the Virgin Festival might sell enough tickets to fill the 60,000-person capacity of Pimlico.

"You never know," Hurwitz says. "But this is definitely a lineup you don't want to miss."

rashod.ollison@baltsun.com

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