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: Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and Good Charlotte. 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 – Sev

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.”

LISTEN NOW: Sev, “Same Old Song”

sev HFStival Big Break: Past Winners

2000 – Jepetto

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 – Cactus Patch

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 Army of Me.

cactuspatch2 HFStival Big Break: Past Winners

2002 – The Lloyd Dobler Effect

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 – Getaway Car

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.

LISTEN NOW: Getaway Car, “Daylight”

2004 – Voodoo Blue

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 Jay-Z and The Cure.

2005 – Gold Mind Squad

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 Havok in Hollywood shortly afterward.

2006 – All Time Low

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?


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 – FunkMnkyz

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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