Free Press Summer Fest 2012 In Review
Another year of Houston’s biggest party, Free Press Summer Fest, has come and gone, leaving a trail of hangovers throughout the town. I’m finally starting to shape up from what was one of the best musical weekends of my life. Living much closer to the festival this year than ever before (three blocks away from the gate), we had the opportunity to catch pretty much the full weekend of music from the opening notes of the Sideshow Tramps on Saturday morning until Pretty Lights shut things down with a firework display that matched the intensity of his set on Sunday night.
Read about the weekend and check out a bunch of photos after the jump
Words and Photos by Jim “Eggs” Bricker
It isn’t everyday you can crawl out of your house and see sets from the likes of Willie Nelson, The Flaming Lips, Snoop Dogg, Primus and The Avett Brothers – if there is a place like this, please give me directions. Until that happens, I’m going to have to suffice with two days out of the year. While a few logistical problems (that damn Jeep thing, and a massive merch tent selling predominately posters from last years event) and a whole lot more people than initially thought would be in attendance on Saturday caused some crowding, almost non-existent port-o-potty’s with longer than usual lines and not well-enough stocked bars, Sunday came back with a vengeance and fixed mostly all of the problems from the day before. There were definitely less people in the park on Sunday than on Saturday, but to be fair, The Avett Brothers are not Snoop Dogg. While FPSF tweaked its layout a bit this year to accommodate its growing size, I’m afraid they are just about to outgrow the land it lays on in Eleanor Tinsley Park. If they are going to continue to bring bigger and bigger acts, it’s definitely going to have to move onward to greener pastures somewhere else in Houston.
On to the music.
Saturday was a solid day of music, but Sunday was by far my favorite. There is something about seeing a bunch of country music on a Sunday that has a great effect on me. It was still a party on Saturday though, as Snoop Dogg went through the hits, Morris Day & The Time somehow made it through the afternoon Houston heat unscathed albeit fully suited, indie kids of Houston got their fix with continuous sets from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Best Coast, Phantogram and Two Door Cinema Club on the second stage and some of the best sets of the weekend were offered early in the day with booty shaking Big Freedia aka The Queen Diva aka The Dick Eata and the incredibly comedic yet entirely infectious hip hop stylings of Turqouise Jeep. The night closed out with an hour and a half set from Oklahoma freaksters The Flaming Lips. Starting with a mini-set of their hits including “Race For The Prize” and “Do You Realize,” they soon jumped into their psychedelic version of Pink Floyd’s seminal album Dark Side Of The Moon which featured Phantogram throughout the entire performance. Although I think most people were hoping for a bit more energy in their Flaming Lips experience, I thought it was pretty damn cool to see the Lips take on one of my all-time favorite albums. Also, with the financial backing of Snoop Dogg and Free Press Houston, they gave away thousands of dollars blown up into balloons to the kids packed in tightly on the hill below. That’s pretty damn cool.
The Flaming Lips
Sunday began early with a nice run through of some of my favorite Houston acts, all starting at the main stage. Grandfather Child started it off with their soulful antics, soon followed on the second stage by burgeoning indie popsters Wild Moccasins. One of my most anticipated sets of the day was the long-awaited return of Robert Ellis to a Houston stage for his first full blown rock show in quite some time. I’m not going to say anything more than I miss the shit out of your live shows Mr. Ellis. Finally our Houston fix finished with the few last songs of rapper Fat Tony performing new material from the recently released Double Dragons collaboration with producer Tom Cruz. Next up was a brief stop at Fitz and the Tantrums to reaffirm my dislike for them before heading back to the main stage for a great set from the soon to be much bigger than they already are Young The Giant. Portugal. The Man, who performed at the surprise aftershow the night before at Fitzgerald’s played a set that included a mean rendition of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” Next up was legendary Texas country singer Willie Nelson who performed one of the greatest sets of the weekend to his adoring fans. Definitely the biggest crowd of the day, only second to Snoop all festival, Willie wasted no time raining his hits down on the packed bowl of people.
After a brief climb up the hill to catch a bit of What Made Milwaukee Famous, we soon returned to the main stage for The Avett Brothers. It’s cool to see one of my favorite bands headlining my city festival just a few blocks from my front door. It gives you something to continually look forward to the entire weekend. It almost made the weekend go by quicker, I think, as I was anticipating their performance more than any. They didn’t disappoint. At all. It was cool to see so many people that hadn’t heard the Avett Brothers taking in this performance. It was instantly infectious, and spread from the front to back just a short way into their set. While it’s a bummer they only had a bit over an hour to play, as I know they can definitely triple that time without a problem, It was still cool to see them in this format in Houston rather than the cavernous Bayou Music Center or opening for someone at the Pavilion. I love this band, and thanks to Summer Fest, many more people in Houston now do as well. The night ended with a stopover at stage 2 for Primus and then back again for a dance party at Pretty Lights’ closing set on the main stage. I’m not sure what it is about Pretty Lights, but his shows are always so much damn fun. After a short but sweet guest spot from Houston’s own Bun B and a nice display of fireworks, the set was over, and with that came the final moments of the festival where the 20-or-so thousand people left filtered their way out of the gates.
The Avett Brothers
It seemed a whole lot shorter than previous years for some reason. I’m not exactly sure what made the time fly by so fast, but it seemed like Sunday night came a lot quicker than previous outings. It might have been the amount of talent spread out over FPSF’s 8 stages, giving us less time to relax and a making us spend a lot more time walking. Who knows. Doesn’t matter. All I know is that this past weekend kicked a whole lot of ass thanks to Omar Afra, Jagi Katial and the rest of the badass motherfuckers that made this event possible. Without you guys, Houston would be a much shittier place to live. A million thanks! Already counting down the days until FPSF5.
And now, the photos…
Saturday, June 2
The Last Place You Look
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Morris Day & The Time
Two Door Cinema Club
Maps and Atlases
The Flaming Lips
Sunday, June 3
Young The Giant
Portugal. The Man
What Made Milwaukee Famous
The Avett Brothers