fpsf five

Though I missed Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, & Lord Huron due to the rains, Free Press was still a success. We made it down just in time for Chvrches, who went beyond my expectations and were my favorite act of the weekend. That show combined with White Noise, a specialty brew from Saint Arnold, made my Fest complete.

The rest of the weekend was compiled of great acts that I had seen before: Big Gigantic, Washed Out, Poolside, Edward Sharpe & Jack White; some old school music: Welcome to Houston and Wu-Tang; some new music: Anamanaguchi and White Sea. My Line-up and links below.

The stage locations had changed from years past nearly eliminating The Hill that had become such an integral part of my FPSF experience. One main stage still featured The Hill on the side of it but it lacked the stadium or amphitheater feel. The stages that were on the street meant less impact on the grass and parks but unfortunately meant it was harder to get around to other stages. The one thing I would change from this years set-up would be additional restrooms; in the center of the festival and in the fancy pants areas. I am glad to see this festival continue to grow providing more must-see acts and adding to the overall fun-level; I just hope that the organizers and staff can keep up with its growth.

SATURDAY SUNDAY
Chvrches Washed Out
Welcome to Houston White Sea
Anamanaguchi Poolside
Ishi The Kills
Big Gigantic Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Twin Shadow Wu-Tang Clan
Zedd Jack White

April Shows

Austin always has great live music but the month of April proved greater than most. This is said with consideration that March has its SXSW and October its ACL. Two of the bands from my current top five played her in April in addition to another great live band that I saw long ago, before they were big.

Arcade Fire played the Austin 360 Amphitheater on April 10. We took a party bus from downtown Austin – which we learned is the way to travel out to 360 if the band you want to see isn’t playing IN town. Of course we brought along all the essential party supplies and enjoyed ourselves in a way that we could not have, had we driven ourselves. When the tour was initially announced, it was requested that attendees wear “formal attire”. Some people didn’t like this at first thought but I was happy to see a good percentage of folks decide to give it a go. I wore what I called “fun formal” including Loud Mouth Golf pants, a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and cumber bun. Prior to the show we also did some tailgating of sorts and had our share of pictures in the bluebonnets.

Image

The actual concert was true to form with an unmatched musical performance, show effects of lights, confetti, dancing, music and large paper mache heads of the Pope and Obama. They played mostly from their new album but a good number of older songs as well. Those of us up close in the pit did our fair share of dancing our pants off, some literally.

Image

The National played the Moody Theater, also known as ACL Live, three consecutive nights. They sold out every night, which speaks to their talent and Austin’s good taste. Since I was out of town the first night and had soccer the second, I attended the third. At least that’s what I tell people. Honestly, the first two nights sold out before I had a chance to grab a ticket so I had to wait until the third, magical, night was added. Though I went to this show alone, I enjoyed running into some old friends and meeting & hanging with some new ones. Concerts are good places to meet people because you know you already have something in common; it is an experience that you can build upon. Warpaint opened and you know I am a sucker for a front woman, this is a band of four. I had seen these girls before, at an ACL once upon a time, but felt this may have been one of their better shows. They had certainly matured musically. The National was, as one of my friends put it “soul crushingly amazing”; I might change that slightly by adding an -ly to amazing and wrapping the description up with beautiful. The universal humanity of their lyrics reaches deep within the individual whose ears they fall upon. Matt passionately poured out his heart in each song. He even got the crowd involved by firstly walking throughout the entire crowd and ultimately having us all sing along to an acoustic Vanderlyle. The full set list can be found HERE on my Instagram.

Since Vampire Weekend is set to play at FPSF in Houston at the end of May, I had initially passed on the ticket to Stubb’s. When I realized how many friends were attending, and considering Stubb’s is my favorite venue, I picked up a ticket from a couple just before they unloaded to a money-hungry-scalper. The show held a friendly happy feeling to it general and it was good to be there with friends. It was also good to be a little nostalgic, thinking back to when I saw them at indoors (at a pre-remodeled) Mohawk a number of years ago with just a handful of people indoors versus this sold-out show at Stubb’s. I look forward to seeing them again at the end of May, but the details of that festival are reserved for this Friday’s post.

 

miscellaneous monday: free press summer fest fun

Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest has grown tremendously in the past few years. In only its fifth official year the fest has had to expand even farther along Eleanor Tinsley Park and Allen Parkway. This year the wristbands were distributed ahead of time, though creating some minimal confusion and minor mixups (all easily corrected) also eliminated the lines/clusters of people at the festival entrances. The pre-festival organization encouraged me to believe that this would one of the better run FPSF yet.

I chose which bands to see based on whom I had seen before and which stage they were to play. Matt & Kim, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and The Postal Service are already getting well-deserved, raving reviews fall into the category that I had seen recently or were up against someone I had never seen before. I suppose I stayed at one stage and was able to see about nine acts. My twitter @themohawkmoon lists which bands I witnessed, so I will only mention highlights here.

We started our Saturday with the soulful and passionate voice of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. I had seen them once before at a Stubb’s in Austin and they did not disappoint. Inspiring how she really gets into every show; we all should put that much energy into whatever it is that we love.

Please pardon this paragraph’s chronological flip-flop. We ended our Saturday evening with a neon, glowing, booming, moving performance – which every one present was a participant – show by Calvin Harris. Though Sunday was closed by what seemed to be a louder, more popular Bassnectar, I preferred the Calvin Harris show. As an example, on Sunday there was young man that was dancing in front of me like he was ‘dancing in his own living room, with only the closest nonjudgmental friends’ – on Saturday night’s Calvin Harris show, I was that guy.

Our Sunday began with Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, introducing the also inspiring and legendary Mavis Staples. Mavis managed to get a much younger and very unfamiliar crowd to move and enjoy a fantastic performance.

Of Monsters And Men was best overall band I saw at the festival. In saying so, I’m commending their music, showmanship and crowd participation. As an unexpected yet pleasant bonus to this show, a child (maybe four or five years of age) danced, seemingly uncontrollably the entire show. She even knew many of the words. It makes me smile to see the next generation already enjoying, maybe even on a higher level, some of the same music that I like.

Musical acts aside, I must put in my ‘two-cents’ regarding festival improvements.

The Fancy Pants pay enough to have their own restrooms. These could be in a blocked-off section behind the already awesome and also necessary air-conditioned tents.

As the festival grows so does the need for a better recycling incentive like ACL Music Festival has (collect recyclables in a bag in exchange for a commemorative t-shirt); I personally volunteer to help see this through. Beyond the incentive program, a better trash company might be a good idea. I recommend Texas Disposal Systems; they do it right.

Finally, as we the festival closes each night, maybe open up emergency exits to expedite the process; I have seen this work at ACL as well.

Already looking forward to next year, with or without improvements mentioned above. Even when we think we are at our best, our pinnacle, we can get better, we can climb higher.