Maybe it was all of the media hype from Saturday’s March Madness Musical Festival with Kendrick Lamar, the lack of NCAA basketball, or just the picture-perfect Houston weather, but downtown Houston was absolutely electric with energy on Sunday.
The schedule for the free Capital One Jam Fest at Discovery Green started at 3:45 pm and I arrived around 2:45, but the line to get inside was already at a two-hour wait. The fire marshal declared the grounds to be at capacity around 5, so if I would have waited it out in line with my non-press credentialed cohort, there’s a chance we wouldn’t have made it in at all.
Knowing a gate closure following a long wait in line was a very real possibility, I decided the afternoon would be better spent meeting as many visitors as I could find around some of my favorite downtown hangouts. The popular idea in this situation was to quickly cut losses and head on foot to EaDo or travel the METRO rail along Main Street where a row of spacious bars await, and that’s exactly what a lot of people did.
It didn’t take long to find North Carolina and Villanova fans out and about celebrating Saturday's wins around downtown, and more than a few Syracuse and Oklahoma supporters came out to play as well. If these fans were expecting a party, they certainly didn’t need to be inside the music festival to find it, although Maroon 5 did put on quite the show. (More about that later.)
At Lucky’s Pub, I spoke to a handful of OU fans who were staying in hotels as far away as Galveston. At Neil’s Bahr I witnesses a heartwarming exchange of camaraderie on the patio between UNC and Villanova fans over a round of Shiner Bocks. At Frank’s Pizza I saw some fans in Syracuse shirts cheering on the Mets, who opened up the 2016 MLB season against The Royals. I guess those Syracuse fans needed a little baseball optimism to take their mind off of last night’s loss.
Those who did decide to wait out the lines and get into the March Madness Music Festival before the gates closed surely weren’t disappointed once they got in. How could anyone care about a long wait when Pitbull and Flo Rida, two energetic acts who have had Houston’s number for a while now, are giving it all they’ve got on a sunny afternoon?
Thankfully, the powers that be at the entrance gate turned a blind eye to my partner-in-crime when I flashed my media credential around 8 pm to catch Maroon 5’s festival-closing set.
What a set full of hits it was.
Singer Adam Levine wasted no time giving his fans what they came for, opening with “Animal,” which was broadcast live on TBS as part of the iHeart Radio Music Awards. He then spent the rest of the set delivering hit after hit while the crowd sang along to every word. If it’s a Maroon 5 song and you can name it, Levine sang it.
“Moves Like Jagger,” “Harder to Breathe,” “Payphone” and many more were as danceable as ever, giving the crowd ample opportunity to take advantage of the opportunity to move, even though they there was hardly any room. Levine was having a lot of fun with the crowd throughout the show. “We’re on the Internet right now!,” he exclaimed (referencing the live streaming of the show via the March Madness website), “Don’t do anything stupid.”
The crowd happily abided, even the hundreds listening in the streets far away from center stage. How’s that for a good time?