Maybe the best things in life are free, after all.
Or at least that’s what some of the 18,000 music fans who showed up Saturday on Halifax’s Citadel Hill seemed to be thinking after Virgin Festival organizers decided to open the event up to everyone, free of charge, once The Tragically Hip pulled out due to a family emergency.
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In fact, the only cost of showing up to Nova Scotia’s first ever festival put on by Virgin Mobile was being bombarded with a whole lot of corporate branding, a willingness to get down and dirty (literally) and a few lost shoes that were left behind in the mud-covered Garrison Grounds.
“I think it was really awesome that because the headliner, The Tragically Hip, (isn’t) around, that they made it free,” Mike Henman, 26, of Halifax said shortly after alternative rockers Dinosaur Jr. cranked up the volume on stage.
“It’s great to see this many people on The Hill,” added his friend Dylan Goddard, 27, also of Halifax.
The two buddies, who didn’t plan on coming to the concert because of the $75 ticket cost but couldn’t resist a free show, said they were looking forward to seeing Metric live. The energetic and electric indie band was the second last act to take the stage and did an awesome job of pumping up the audience for headliners, The Offspring.
Jennifer Grace and Jenny MacEachern said they bought their tickets for the festival two days after they went on sale for one reason only – The Offspring.
Grace said the move to make it a free festival was likely “a marketing decision.”
“They could have really damaged their brand if they cancelled the whole thing, or continued on the way it was without The Hip,” she said.
The Offspring didn’t seem to disappoint their rabid fans, with a backdrop of flames and skulls accompanying famous anthems such as Self Esteem from Smash and Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) from Americana.
“We should have come here earlier,” lead singer Dexter Holland, referring to playing in Halifax for the first time, yelled over the enthralled crowd. “It’s not that we didn’t want to come. It’s just that we wanted to wait until we could be headliners.”