Thankfully, early forecasts of a rainy day did not turn out to be true, and so the second day of the Landmark Music Festival, an event designed to raise awareness and funds for needed repairs to the National Mall, offered a clear day and gentle breezes for crowds to enjoy the 21 musical acts that played on Sunday in D.C.’s West Potomac Park.
Except for an unexplained delay that saw the night’s headliners, The Strokes, taking the stage 15 minutes late, the day ran like clockwork, with five stages providing a nicely eclectic mix of performers like alt-J, CHVRCHES, TV On the Radio, George Ezra, Lord Huron, Dan Deacon, The Joy Formidable, Rhiannon Giddens and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dr. John. (The slideshow in this article contains photos of most of these acts. Additional postings will go into more detail and provide more shots of specific performances.)
Along with the music, there was a mini-festival for kids, interactive installations about America’s national parks and the National Mall in particular, plus a food court (amazingly for a festival, most of the fine eating was reasonably priced!) curated by award-winning chef José Andrés.
According to at least one report, the festival’s Saturday launch (featuring Drake as headliner, atop a bill that also presented Nate Ruess, Wale, Band of Horses and The War on Drugs) was hampered by a few glitches, including long lines at the beverage tents and less-than-ideal porta-john facilities (are they ever ideal?). Still, event producers C3 Presents, who also host such mega-events as Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, appear to learn quickly. Getting – and getting rid of – consumables presented no such issues on this second day, leaving the audience to enjoy the music in comfort and in a visibly good mood.
Adding to the pleasures of the day was the sense that it was all for a good cause, the Trust for the National Mall. That iconic public green, stretching from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, has not seen a major renovation in 40 years, so it’s in dire need of upgrades and repair. Most of the campaigning was done in the interactive tents, not onstage, but the message got across.
Though the Landmark festival was held on adjacent grounds to the Mall, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was visible as one walked to the event, and the Washington Monument loomed behind the Lincoln Stage, where both George Ezra and The Joy Formidable presented fine sets. Such juxtapositions were a gentle reminder that D.C. is not just a great place to hear music, but a city rich with history.
Here’s hoping the first Landmark Music Festival won’t be the last.