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.