Washington, D.C., doesn’t get a lot of major music festivals: It’s had to make do with smallish events out in the suburbs, including the Sweetlife Festival, the now-defunct Virgin Mobile FreeFest and Trillectro, which relocated from D.C. to Maryland this year. But the city got a taste of a true large-scale fest over the weekend when Landmark Music Festival — produced by C3 Presents, the company responsible for Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza — came to town.
Between Sept. 26 and 27, 42 bands played across five stages in the relatively secluded West Potomac Park along the banks of the Potomac River. Ten percent of the event’s proceeds benefited the Trust for the National Mall, the nonprofit set up to preserve and restore the federal land called America’s front lawn. With more than $750 million in backlogged repair work needed — and 39 years since the park’s last major renovation — the National Mall could use the help.
But the festival didn’t escape criticism in the lead-up to last weekend: a Washington Post article raised questions about whether public land should be given over to a private commercial event, particularly one with VIP tickets in the thousands of dollars. Not that the controversy appeared to dampen the spirits of 20-somethings who forked over their wages to see headliner Drake and the fireworks he brought with him Saturday night. (The Canadian emcee was one act Bandwidth didn’t get a chance to photograph; he only approved a handful of media outlets. See images at the Post or Fuse.)
Those with plebeian-level tickets (from $105 to $175) experienced a smoothly running festival — notable for any major concert’s inaugural year — with bands running largely on schedule both days. Attendees wandered freely between the stages to catch their favorite acts, with conflicts seemingly kept to a minimum, with only two or three bands playing at any given time.
But the vending operation was another matter. If Landmark returns for another year, it will need to get its food and beverage service in line. Food stands from local restaurants offered tasty variety, and there was plenty of beer to go around — but lines became unbearable Saturday as the day went on. Other reviews mention difficult parking, scarce toilet paper and sound bleed between stages.
Below, what Bandwidth spotted at Landmark Music Festival — in alphabetical order, and without the long lines.
All photos by Matt Condon