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2001 HFStival
Washington, DC

By: Glennie Rabin -

May 27 & 28, 2001

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What happens to people at summer rock concerts? Is it like what happens when you pour milk on Rice Krispies?

Snap! Pop! The aggression. The crowd surfing. The desire to shake your bare breasts in front of tens of thousands. The pushing and surging of bodies toward the stage. The pit.

Or is it just exactly what happens when you bring more than 30 bands in front of their generation of loyal fans—dehydrated, sunburned, hormonal and anticipating what will happen next. And then turn the volume up. To 10.

The crackling energy of 120,000 festival-goers continued nonstop through both rain and shine for two days straight during the 2001 HFStival at Washington’s RFK Stadium, May 27 and 28. In its constant efforts to put on a bigger and better HFStival, WHFS, Washington and Baltimore’s alternative rock radio station, provided more than 24 hours of music this year, with more than 30 bands on three stages and one electronic music tent.

Sure, some of the bands had spare numbers tagged onto their names like fuel additives or new edition software—SR-71, SUM 41, 3 Doors Down, Sevendust—and some were the bands that you accidentally hear on the radio when you forget you have the power to change the station. But then there were the huge artists of modern rock history’s making, Incubus, Live, Staind, Mike D and Mixmaster Mike. And that’s the beauty of the festival. People come out for the bands they would go see on a smaller concert bill and get introduced to the live energy of artists they otherwise wouldn’t have gone out of their way to check out.

In true radio playlist fashion, all the bands included their radio hits in their sets, and those who played on both days, performed the same hits twice—like Lifehouse and their inescapable number 1 song “Hanging By A Moment.”

The thoughtful Britpop outfit Coldplay, representing their debut album Parachutes, performed identical set lists both days on the main stage. Frontman Chris Martin was charming, trying to calm the audience down for his band’s more mellow music, contrasted with the moshworthy sounds of Sevendust and the like. But Martin was as energetic a showman as any, multi-tasking it—at the keyboard banging out the beautiful piano lines, singing, wailing on his harmonica, strumming out tunes like “Yellow” on his acoustic guitar, and pulling members of the audience onto the stage to serenade them.

Live gets the Energizer Bunny Award for playing powerful sets both nights and giving a special free concert at the Nightclub 9:30 on Sunday night to people with ticket stubs.

Incubus performed the most noteworthy set of day one. This foursome from Calabasas, California is blazing new trails in melodic funk-rock with frontman Brandon Boyd as fierce as ever, belting out “Stellar” and “Drive” and strapping a West African drum around his hips for most of the set. A big fan of teasing into cover tunes, Boyd broke into a priceless “Like A Virgin.” Pardon me while I burst into flames.

Speaking of flames, Green Day’s day one performance gets brownie points for showmanship, with Billy Joe Armstrong up to his usual punk antics. But, I heard that drummer Tre Cool’s set-closing stunt in which he destroyed his drum kit and lit it on fire was a bit of a rerun.

The high intensity bands of day two included Linkin Park and Good Charlotte. It’s no wonder Linkin Park’s debut album is called Hybrid Theory as they’re one of the strongest new acts in the hybrid rap-metal genre, pairing Mike Shinoda’s rhymes with Chester Bennington’s ferociously heavy singing. Trivia bonus: Hybrid Theory was also the band’s original name.

Good Charlotte, along with SR-71 and Nothingface, are the local bands that seem to just soak up the local energy at the festival and bloat bigger and bigger with WHFS’ support. SR-71, hailing from Baltimore, is fresh off tour with Bon Jovi. And Good Charlotte have worked their way from kids in the crowd, to playing the local stage, then street stage, and this year they brought their high-energy punk-pop to the main stage where they filmed the video for their upcoming single “Festival Song” during their set.

To close out the second day of the show, Staind took the stage just past dusk, performing their aggressive tunes alongside their slower hits, showcasing Aaron Lewis’ vocals. And yes, during “On the Outside,” Lewis said “Washington DC, I’m feeling those lighters.”

By the time Mixmaster Mike and Mike D took to the turntables in a sound tower in the center of the field, the crowd was done snapping and crackling and they were too pooped to pop. More than half the crowd filtered out, after about 24 plus hours of music and melee.

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