The inaugural Landmark Music Festival brought an eclectic group of A-list artists to West Potomac Park, a scenic area located next to the Potomac River and a short walk from the MLK and FDR Monuments. The two-day event was produced by C3 Presents, the company behind Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza. Like most concerts on the Nationals Mall, Landmark had a goal; to support and raise awareness for the Trust for the National Mall’s Landmark Campaign, a group that strives to refurbish and maintain The National Mall. Although it may be the country’s most visited National Park, “America’s Front Yard” has not seen a major renovation in more 40 years.
In addition to its stacked lineup that boasted headliners Drake and The Strokes, the event also featured a reward-based recycling initiative, the ability to pay for food and drink through your wristband and a local food eatery curated by DC star chef, Jose Andres. With the looming threat of rain, Saturday certainly felt like the first day of a new festival with hour-long beer and restroom lines. Saturday’s highlights included DC native rapper Wale discussing his own festival, an energetic performance by shirtless R&B singer Miguel and a laid-back set from The Strokes guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr. When the rain finally started during The War on Drugs, it seemed to enhance the Philadelphia band’s ambient sound. Canadian rapper Drake closed out the festivities with a career spanning, hour long performance.
By Sunday, many of the beer and bathroom issues had been solved with more porta-potties, the addition of cash beer lines and added volunteers. The weather was mostly sunny and pleasant for 74 year old Dr. John, who started the day’s festivities. Indiana natives, Houndmouth put on an impressive set that saw the band members juggle instruments and share the vocal work. Highlights include keyboardist, Katie Toupin showing off her impressive vocals on “Casino (Bad Things)” and the crowd pleasing cover of Dion’s, “Runaround Sue”. TV on the Radio played an electrifying show that included “Wolf Like Me” and “Staring at the Sun”. The performance was halted briefly when a brawl broke out in the crowd, but lead singer, Tunde Adebimpe quickly dispelled it from the stage. Later on Leeds rockers, alt-J prepared the crowd at the main stage for the evening’s headliners, The Strokes. Although the Brooklyn rockers were almost 20 minutes late, they played an exciting set filled with songs from their entire career, starting with the title track off their 2001 album, “Is This It.” Front man, Julian Casablancas bantered throughout the performance, touching on issues that ranged from politics to his dislike of rock music. Perhaps the biggest news of the weekend was that The Strokes are back in the studio and working on a new album, contradicting rumors that the band was breaking up. With the super moon solar eclipse and the Washington Monument in the background, The Strokes closed out Landmark with “Take It or Leave It,” a fitting end to a festival that will hopefully return next year.