Making the most of this year’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest

This Saturday, Virgin Mobile brings it’s FreeFest to Columbia’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. Three stages of music, art and attractions, food and drink, and plenty of free swag, FreeFest is as sure a bet as any for a memorable festival experience – if you’re prepared. First, check out the Edukatorz guide to music festival survival, and then read how to maximize your musical intake during a schedule packed with conflicts and trade-offs.

Clubs, Crosses, and Rivers

Alberta Cross, Bombay Bicycle Club, Two Door Cinema Club, and Okkervil River are the opening acts, alternating between the Pavilion (main) and Festival (side) stages. See Alberta Cross and then Okkervil River if you like your rock blues- and folk-based; see the two Clubs for indie rock that is a bit poppier.

Blister in the sun

While the Dance Forest can more accurately be described as the Dust Bowl, it still presents a great value for revelers who want to catch dance-orientated acts in a relatively intimate setting. But who’s ready to dance while the sun is still beating down? All but electronic music fanatics can probably skip audio-visual remixers Eclectic Method and electro house wunderkind Porter Robinson and head to the Forest when Calvin Harris takes over at 3:15 (opting against Big Sean; hip-hop at festivals being hit-or-miss at best).

Dance, punk, dance

Two bands that play in the same sandbox face off at around 5:00. Both !!! and Cut Copy (at the Dance Forest and the Festival Stage, respectively) make aught-astic dance-punk, one with house grooves (!!!) and the other with Balaeric hooks (Cut Copy). Either way, make sure you’re at the Pavilion for the Poet Laureate of Punk, Patti Smith.

Stage hopping

After Patti Smith, you can stick to some combination of the Pavilion and Festival stages. Those who already miss LCD Soundsystem will flock to see James Murphy at the Dance Forest, but don’t be fooled – this is probably a DJ set, and not some new solo adventure. Cee Lo Green is a consummate performer, but how much is seeing “Fuck You” live worth to you? Stick with TV on the Radio and then head back to Festival stage to catch synthpop act Empire of the Sun for a rare US appearence.

Dancing the night away

The Black Keys do a lot of things right, but they are not festival headliners; Deadmau5 is. Forget what that says about the state of music and end the night with a little trance raving. You’re probably too old for it, but you’re probably getting too old for a music festival. Take solace in the fact that you’re not paying for it.

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