- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

When WHFS-FM (99.1) vanished from the airwaves in mid-January, the future of the nation’s largest rock festival seemed uncertain. El Zol, a Caribbean and Central American dance music station, replaced Washington’s longstanding free-form rock radio overnight, and with it ended an annual spring tribute to everything rock ‘n’ roll — the HFStival. Or so we thought. Although still unbeknownst to many Washingtonians, WHFS is back. Its new Towson, Md.-based home and dial frequency may feel a little foreign, but its HFStival is as strong as ever. And the festival’s lineup (unfolding in four performance spaces) is enough to make any bona fide rock ‘n’ roller do cartwheels: Billy Idol, the Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Good Charlotte, Social Distortion, Garbage, just to name a few. The big names not only represent some of today’s hottest acts, but also include some of the pioneers of modern rock and those at the forefront of WHFS’ eclectic mix. “We wanted the lineup to reflect the history of the station,” says WHFS program director Lisa Worden. Brit rockers Echo and the Bunnymen, alternative rockers They Might Be Giants and seminal punk rockers the New York Dolls “are the artists that the station built itself on,” Miss Worden says. WHFS’ move also comes with a change of venue for the annual event. Instead of RFK Stadium, tomorrow’s HFStival will take place at Baltimore’s M&T; Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens) — the second time there in its 16-year history. But Miss Worden doesn’t think that will whittle attendance. She expects some 55,000 concertgoers will attend the daylong event, split between fans from Baltimore and the District. “They’re just happy it’s happening,” she says of District area fans, confident the stadium change and an hourlong drive won’t deter them. This is “the granddaddy of all radio music festivals,” Miss Worden says. Great festivals, of course, are defined by the performers and this year’s bill offers an impressive array of star power. Idol matters Among those heralding the HFStival’s ongoing success is Mr. rock ‘n’ roll himself, Billy Idol. With a new album (“Devil’s Playground”) and a worldwide tour under way, the well-toned 50-year-old Brit is still in the game. To younger punk bands playing the festival, Mr. Idol is still the be-all-end-all rock god. The singer — known for his ‘80s hits “White Wedding” and “Dancing With Myself” — was once a teenage festivalgoer himself in the late 1960s and can barely wait to headline the show with the likes of up-and-comers Interpol and Sum 41. “You’d be surprised how similar our ideas are. Even though we’re 20 years apart, we still have the same sort of punk rock attitude,” Mr. Idol says during a phone interview from an Orlando, Fla. tour stop. “They’re all like me. They’re all guys or girls who got in a band because they love music and they wanted to find out what makes them tick and they’ve got something to say. “I know what they’re doing,” he says of new bands, especially those just rising to fame. “I did the same thing. And in fact, with this group right now, I’m doing the same thing,” adds Mr. Idol, referring to his backup group. “I’ve gone back to square one,” he says. “We’re like every other band. We play live. Live is our medium. The radio is completely … (he pauses) not ignoring us, but they’re playing us in the middle of the night or they all think Billy Idol’s a retro act, but the magic thing is live, you can prove that’s not true. “They can’t stop you when you’ve got the goods,” Mr. Idol says of the youth-obsessed music industry. “And that’s what gives you the strength to go on, and that’s what gives you the strength to wait for the day that something turns and it all goes in your favor. “I’ve seen it happen before,” he says. “I’ve been in this sort of position before. We lost the battle at quarter past six but I won it back at seven.” The hard-living rocker with nine lives (he survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident and years of drug addiction) accepts that there are those who doubt his comeback. “Well you know, I understand why they would,” Mr. Idol says. “Don’t think I didn’t [doubt it myself]. I know there’s no guarantees in this world. But that’s why you do it.” Coming full circle For punk-pop quartet Good Charlotte, the HFStival — and WHFS itself — not only shaped their musical tastes but helped transform them from a fledgling band with big dreams to the eyeliner-wearing darlings of MTV. The Waldorf, Md., natives played as near unknowns at the festival in the late 1990s. Before that they were just starry-eyed spectators like everyone else, pulling teenage tricks to try to get backstage and dreaming of one day hitting the HFStival stage. “WHFS has been a very important radio station to us and very supportive in our career,” says Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden. “Playing the HFStival is something we’ve done many, many times and we love that show, we love that station.” “That’s the station that brought me Green Day,” the 26-year-old says. “When I was 15, I fell in love with Green Day, and that’s why I started my band.” Now 10 years into their career, Good Charlotte — which catapulted to worldwide fame with the 2002 hit “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous” — performs worldwide. Still there’s nothing like coming back to HFStival. “It’s special to go back home and play for that crowd, play for that station and play that show,” Mr. Madden says. “It’s significant for me for a lot of reasons in accomplishing my dreams as an artist and an entertainer.” New and noted While Good Charlotte and Mr. Idol are among the festival’s big names, concertgoers will also see those on the cusp of stardom. This year’s top buzz-worthy band might just be The Bravery. The New York City quintet are redefining garage rock with a high-tech edge and a sound as enticing as a Starbucks latte, and just as rich. The band — which began as a recording project in the New York apartments of Bravery vocalist and Bethesda native Sam Endicott and keyboardist-programmer John Conway — has already vaulted to rock royalty in England. And they hope to achieve similar success in the U.S., says drummer Anthony Burulcich. If nothing else, their HFStival appearance in front of more than 50,000 revelers will provide exposure. To date, the Bravery’s largest show has been before an overseas crowd of 5,000. So the thought of performing for tens of thousands is mind-blowing, Mr. Burulcich says. “Festivals are great because people are there to see their favorite bands, but they’ll [also] go see stuff someone tells them about,” Mr. Burulcich says. “You are getting more exposure to fans of different bands that may like you as well. Festivals are definitely a great way to pick up new ears.” Playing alongside modern rock legends isn’t bad, either. “Dave Grohl is my idol,” Mr. Burulcich says of the former Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman. “It’s always a great feeling to be part of something with such successful musicians,” he says. “When you’re a kid, you always dream about doing stuff like this.” WHAT: HFStival 2005 WHEN: Tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. WHERE: M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell St., Baltimore TICKETS:$40 INFORMATION: Call 410/547-SEAT, or visit online at www.live1057.com HFStival 2005 lineup Main stage 12:25 p.m. The Bravery 1:10 p.m. Louis XIV 1:55 p.m. They MIght Be Giants 2:45 p.m. Interpol 3:35 p.m. Echo and the Bunnymen 4:25 p.m. Garbage 5:15 p.m. New York Dolls 6 p.m. Social Distortion 6:50 p.m. Good Charlotte 7:45 p.m. Billy Idol 8:40 p.m. Coldplay 9:45 p.m. Foo Fighters Street stage Noon: Washington Social Club 12:45 p.m. Citizen Cope 1:30 p.m. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack 2:15 p.m. The Stereophonics 3:05 p.m. Pepper 3:55 p.m. Unwritten Law 4:45 p.m. Sum 41 Locals only stage 11 a.m. Thirdkind 11:45 a.m. Girl Friday 12:30 a.m. Vote Quimby 1:15 p.m. Can’t Hang 2 p.m. Crash Boom Bang 2:45 p.m. Colouring Lesson 3:30 p.m. Plunge 4:15 p.m. Victory Twin 5 p.m. Adelyn 5:45 p.m. The Pietasters Buzz tent 12:30 p.m. John Tab 1:30 p.m. Buster 2:30 p.m. Evil Nine 3:30 p.m. Reid Speed with MC Armanni 4:30 p.m. Photek with MC Sharpness 5:30 p.m. Grayarea 6:30 p.m. DJ Rap 7:30 p.m. Scott Henry 9 p.m. Sandra Collins

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