The HFStival is well-known for all of the huge acts that have played over the years, but every show is kicked off by one of the area’s best local bands, chosen in a competition called the HFStival Big Break. How many of ’em did you catch on stage at the big show? Check out our rundown of past winners and see how many of them you remember.

Oh, and here are two notable local bands you probably expected to be on this list, but aren’t: [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jimmie’s Chicken Shack[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Good Charlotte[/lastfm]. These two bands, and many others, did get a huge “break” by being chosen to play the HFStival, and that’s part of what inspired HFS to launch the HFStival Big Break every year, getting local bands from all over the region to send in their best stuff, and letting our listeners watch it all unfold live.

1999 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Sev[/lastfm]

Their single “Same Old Song” got a ton of airplay on HFS, and even made it into a commercial for Pepsi Blue.  They opened the Street Stage at both HFStivals in “The Year of 99, The Year of HFS.”

sev HFStival Big Break: Past Winners

2000 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jepetto[/lastfm]

This band from Annapolis had a huge following as they got to open the Street Stage outside FedEx Field, and the core members eventually went on to form another local band named Victory Party.

jepetto1 HFStival Big Break: Past Winners

2001 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cactus Patch[/lastfm]

This band got to open the Street Stage on both days of HFStival 2001. They had big news for the crowd on the first day, as they made the announcement that they were changing their name to [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Army of Me[/lastfm].

cactuspatch2 HFStival Big Break: Past Winners

2002 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Lloyd Dobler Effect[/lastfm]

This band, considered by many to have scored an upset in the Big Break competition, got to open the Main Stage on the first day of HFStival 2002, then opened the Street Stage on the second day.

2003 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Getaway Car[/lastfm]

True story: This band almost declined our invitiation to open the HFStival, since the lead singer was planning to go on tour as a session musician in another artist’s band. Luckily, we got things worked out, and they ended up closing the Street Stage.

2004 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Voodoo Blue[/lastfm]

Voodoo Blue has the bittersweet distinction of being the last Big Break winner to open an HFStival at RFK Stadium, opening a Main Stage lineup that closed with heavyweights like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Jay-Z[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]The Cure[/lastfm].

2005 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Gold Mind Squad[/lastfm]

After we got kicked off of 99.1 and came back on in Baltimore at 105.7, these guys got to open the first HFStival in Baltimore in six years. They’re another Big Break winner that didn’t stick with their name, as they decided to become known as [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Havok in Hollywood[/lastfm] shortly afterward.

2006 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]All Time Low[/lastfm]

Of all the bands that won the Big Break, these guys have garnered the most success, as they’re now played on pop stations all over the country. Are they the next Good Charlotte?

2007 - [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]aFREUDIANSLIP[/lastfm]

These guys had the unfortunate distiction of winning the Big Break, but never getting the chance to open an HFStival…since there didn’t end up being an HFStival 2007.

2010 – [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]FunkMnkyz[/lastfm]

The HFStival returned in 2010 after a four-year hiatus, and this rap-rock band from Northern Virginia earned the right to open the main stage.


2011 – Black Alley

The most recent local band to open an HFStival was this year’s Black Alley, who surprised the crowd with a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” during the Big Break Finals at the 9:30 Club.

dsc 4308 HFStival Big Break: Past Winners


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