Drake, the Strokes to headline two-day, 40-band music festival in D.C.’s West Potomac Park
By Lavanya Ramanathan
Who needs Coachella? The District is getting its own scaled-down alternative to that bloated California mega music festival: The Landmark Music Festival is set to blare from West Potomac Park on Sept. 26-27 headlined by rapper Drake, featuring alt-rock acts such as the Strokes, Band of Horses, the War on Drugs and Alt-J, locals including Wale and Ex Hex, and more than 40 acts in total.
Of course, this is Washington, where no note can ring out without a cause, and every outdoor concert must have a greater goal beyond just music. The Landmark Music Festival, organized in part by the nonprofit Trust for the National Mall, will raise awareness and money to restore the Mall.
And there's the rub: Although the city has grown accustomed to seeing Bruce Springsteen and Usher at free musical extravaganzas such as last year's Concert for Valor and this month's Earth Day concert, the Landmark Music Festival will be ticketed, with proceeds going to the trust's efforts. Two-day passes went on sale Tuesday night through the concert's Web site ---www.landmarkfestival.org -- for $100 to $150. Single-day tickets will be released this summer, and a lottery for 1,000 free tickets is expected to be announced in the coming days.
The event's eclectic bill -- booked by C3 Presents, a concert promoter whose other events include the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Texas and Chicago's three-day Lollapalooza festival, which draws 300,000 people -- will also include performances by folkie Ben Howard, electronic-music hero Dan Deacon and New Orleans great Dr. John.
Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall, said the festival is aimed at attracting the attention of millennials, whom Cunningham called the "next generation of stewards of the Mall." But organizers are promising the festival will also be family friendly, even offering free admission to children younger than 10.
Organizers are expecting as many 50,000 people to attend the festival over two days, but this concert for the Mall will not be held on the Mall. The Landmark Music Festival's five stages will instead be set up on the vast recreational grounds just west of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. The Potomac River waterfront will serve as a backdrop.
The Mall, which stretches between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, has played host to countless concerts and major events over the years, but the multimillion-dollar improvements already underway on its barren turf have been displacing some particularly crowded events, including the National Book Festival, which moved indoors last year, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which will relocate this summer to a new, smaller swath of the Mall near the Museum of the American Indian.
"If you walk down to the National Mall today, you will see cracked sidewalks. You will see the Tidal Basin is overcome by water twice a day because of the tides," said Cunningham. "There are not enough bathrooms and food facilities for young families, for visitors." Cunningham said using the concert to raise awareness about those conditions is as important as raising funds.