Free Press Summer Fest was this past weekend in Houston and consisted of artist from across the country having a little of each genre for the populous of this diverse city to enjoy.
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Though most music festivals have only two levels of tickets, general admission and then VIP, this festival had three levels, each holding more than their value in price. For more information on ticketing and prices go to the site here.
Upon entering the festival there was the first small stage only to be followed by a street full of local vendors from food and art to drinks and street performers. The assortment and variety of merchandise from vendors surpassed that seen during other festivals and carnivals in Houston.
Just a quick note for those who plan to attend next year. Perhaps the band you wish to see does not start until later in the afternoon, and you want to arrive just in time to see them. This is not a good idea since the line for entry to those having a General Admission pass was one that extended for almost a mile. Having Fancy Pants allows you access to skip the line, which was what I ended up doing, but if you don’t want to spend the extra money, make sure you get there early. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Starfucker (Stage 1) 2:10
The first band to perform at the main stage which was called Stage 1 was Starfucker. This band from Portland has rhythms and beats which move its fans and audience, with Houston being no exception. The 2:00 PM sun did not stop the masses at the bottom of the hill from grooving to the vibes the band created. Their performance was the first one which was the hallmark of the festival for this day. Their set list was one which held all of the elements to one of their shows with a chilled vibe at times followed by a throbbing beat.
Best Coast (Stage 2) 2:40
Best Coast then took over at Stage 2 which was the second largest stage, and is across the festival grounds. Their new album, The Only Place which was just released on May 12th by Wichita Recordings drove a large crowd to hear the sophomore album of this band. This band though having some great tracks, at times feels a bit repetitive. During the heat of 2:40, it was a great escape hearing the west coast riffs and style the band had. They do not fully have the generic California sound that most bands have but to an extent they are not a revolutionizing group.
Diplo (Stage 3) 2:50
Having to leave Best Coast a bit early, there was some great interaction between the crowd and Diplo at stage 3, which was shaped like a dome, composed of red netting. Part of Major Lazer, Diplo has produced tracks which have been used across the world. As a master of sampling, he put on a set which went above and beyond what has been captured on YouTube. His beats and drops were astounding which sent pulses to the ground and cement. The crowd was going wild as the hip-hop bass with the infused techno beats filled the air. I arrived late but the show started at 2:50.
Z-Ro (Stage 1) 4:20
Houston rapper Z-Ro has been growing in popularity, and after having played the smaller stage last year, he was summoned over to Stage 1, to give the thousands of people a show worthy of this great local rapper. There were some repetitive flaws during the set which at times caused a slight decay in the immersion that was attempted to be portrayed. Though this local hero has some amazing skill and dropped some sick beats, he still lacks the portrayal of a more commercial rapper. Unfortunately he was upstaged by a west coast all-star rapper which was later present at the same stage later that day. (Just a side note also, I think that the amazing west coast rapper who performed later was celebrating at this time in his own way….think about it….look at the time.)
Two Door Cinema Club (Stage 2) 5:00
From this set, I rushed over and left a bit early to Stage 2 in order to see a band from Northern Ireland who have won many awards from NME and topped UK charts.
Their album Tourist History which was released in 2010 has been rising in popularity across the world. The band has been reportedly working on a new album and a release date has yet to have been set, but during Free Press Summer Fest they announced that their album is done and will be coming out later this year. They will begin touring and promoting their album this year. The stage was full of fans and differed greatly from the last time the band was in town and played the Studio at Warehouse Live nearly two years ago. They performed their biggest hits and did a few new tracks from their new completed album which sound similar to their current album yet have a slight hint of something new. Having only heard a few songs, there is much to look forward to from this band and their new album.
Major Lazer (Stage 1) 5:30
As the heat got a bit less intense we finally go to the duo formed by Diplo and Switch which allegedly parted late last year. They return this year playing only major festivals like Bonaroo and T in the Park, and stopping by the ever growing Free Press Summer Fest. There was much hype around this group performing at the festival at 5:30. The crowd moved and danced to the famous, “Guns Don’t Kill People Lazer Do,” and “Pon De Floor.” The set riled the crowd and was only to be surpassed by the appearance of Bun B on the stage as well as a snippet of Snoop Dogg presenting the group in a sample of one of his tracks. The large screens behind the stage and on the sides showed cartoons of rockets and animated versions of the performers.
Snoop Dogg (Stage 1) 7:15
Finally the rapper who has one of the headliners of the festival Snoop Dogg took Stage 1 at 7:15. His last appearance at House of Blues was similar to this one in the sense of the performers, set list, and fan interaction. Snoop was playing to a larger crowd here though and had less time to improvise his stage performance, but was one which pleased all audiences. He played only his classics and had his crew with him. There was security in the back after his set time was up for him to leave the stage but he stayed on and kept performing. The crowd sang along from, “Gin and Juice,” to “I Wanna Fuck You.” There was a new performer though on stage by the name of Naughty Dog who took out a large plush dick that hung over his shoulder during the performance. He ended the set lighting up a blunt and singing with the crowd, “Young, Wild, and Free.”
Afrojack (Stage 1)9:00
Though there were many bands performing and much music to see it was time for the closing set of Day 1 of Free Press Summer Fest. Afrojack took over Stage 1 at 9:00 with nothing less than a massive sea of people on the base of the hill. While promoting his Jacked tour, he stopped by Houston to play Free Press only to be followed by the opening night of InStereo at Stereo Live with R3hab and Bobby Burns. InStereo is an event that goes on every Saturday at Stereo Live which brings world class DJ’s to Houston. At Free Press the screens showed an amazing array of lights which suited his set. Half way through his set he played the famous track, “Take Over Control,” which the crowd ate up. His set was one which could not be compared to the last time he was on stage in Houston. The day after the show in Houston, he posted on Facebook that he was ready to officially play a new track at EDC, which was first premiered in Houston.