The best of FPSF

Top 11 must-see music acts at Free Press Summer Fest

Top 11 must-see music acts at Free Press Summer Fest

Austin City Limits Festival ACL Fest 2014 Weekend Two Lorde
Lorde. Photo by Daniel Cavazos
ACL Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 Miike Snow
Miike Snow. Photo by Daniel Cavazos
ACL Festival 2013 Day 3 Grouplove 7663
Grouplove. Photo by Jon Shapley
Solange performs at Super Bowl Live
Solange. Photo by Rob Loud
ACL Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 Cage the Elephant
Cage the Elephant. Photo by Daniel Cavazos
Austin City Limits Festival ACL Fest 2014 Weekend Two Lorde
ACL Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 Miike Snow
ACL Festival 2013 Day 3 Grouplove 7663
Solange performs at Super Bowl Live
ACL Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 Cage the Elephant
Flume

Houston’s biggest summer music festival, Free Press Summer Fest, returns home to Eleanor Tinsley Park this weekend after its rain-soaked detour to NRG Park due to flooding last year.

Now in its ninth year, the line-up might be seen as the kid brother to Austin City Limits’ huge annual draw, yet there are still plenty of good acts to see and discover with a bigger emphasis on local and regional artists that tend to skew towards a younger crowd with an emphasis on pop, EDM and hip-hop.

Even if it’s not as revered as the bigger event in central Texas, the fact Houston has its very own summer music festival that attracts relevant, internationally known talent is a big win for the city. And there few better ways to spend a summer weekend than soaking up the rays, sipping a cold brew and taking in great music in the park.

With over 50 acts to choose from across four stages and two days, deciding which act to see and at what time can prove to be the ultimate music fan dilemma. Thankfully, we at CultureMap are here to help audiophiles achieve maximum live music voltage with the top must-see acts on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday

Hurray for the Riff Raff, Budweiser Stage, 1:20-2:10 p.m.

Few bands come in with as much buzz as Hurray for the Riff Raff, which released the highly acclaimed album, The Navigator, in March. The New Orleans three-piece, fronted by the enigmatic Alynda Lee Segarra, performs story-based Americana with bits of folk and bar band blues, drawing on Segarra's experience of crisscrossing the country in her younger years via bus and rail after leaving her home in The Bronx, New York. Her melodic, acoustic driven tales are perfect for this early afternoon slot.

The Struts, Budweiser Stage, 2:50-3:40 p.m.

The Struts are one of the only straight-up rock acts on the FPSF line-up, but are an exciting addition. The British band's album Everybody Wants worked its way up modern rock radio charts with the rafter-shaking anthem, “Could Have Been Me.” Add a dash of Queen at their most populist, a large dose of world shattering grandeur of The Darkness, and T-Rex at the height of glam – The Struts will be the golden gods of FPSF.

Miike Snow, Saturn Stage, 6:10-7 p.m.

Originally known for writing pop hits for Britney Spears, Madonna and Kylie Minogue, the Swedish members of Miike Snow are much better as a trio, producing some of the coolest synth-laden indie rock of the last decade. Casual fans may know them for singles “Genghis Khan” and “Animal,” which come across like Peter, Bjorn and John laced with hip-hop beats. The band doesn’t tour America often, so this set will be a treat.

Grouplove, Saturn Stage, 7:50-8:40 p.m.

If you could package a party in a can, it would come out as the ecstatic Grouplove. Best known for its No. 1 hit, “Tongue Tied,” as well as “Ways to Go,” much of the band’s discography follows a similar vein of positive alt-rock threaded with electro flourishes. This set is sure to be one of the most fun of the weekend.

Cage The Elephant, Saturn Stage, 9:30-11 p.m.

Damn, these guys are on the radio all the time. Yes, they are overplayed, but don’t be fooled by those middling, airwave friendly singles forced into your ears by mainstream and modern rock radio. The Bowling Green act is one of the fiercest live acts in the game right now, fronted by unpredictable lead singer Matthew Shultz, who displays expert showmanship on stage. Expect the unexpected when Cage the Elephant closes out Saturday night’s festivities.

Sunday

Cherry Glazerr, Saturn Stage, 12-12:40 p.m.

Armed with one of the best albums of 2017 in Apocalipstick, the Los Angeles outfit recalls the pinnacle of the '90s rock with spiky, urgent riffs delivered with semi-bored drawl from frontwoman Clementine Creevy. Think of a new generation raised on The Pixies and riot girl bands. Be one of the those who said you saw them before they blew up big. They won't be playing noon festival slots for long.

Tove Lo,  Budweiser Stage, 4:40-5:40 p.m.

Sweden produces some of the hottest acts in the world and Tove Lo deserves to be on that list. Her 2015 single “Habits (Stay High)” had the distinction of being the only song about getting stoned and visiting sex clubs to ever dominate Top 40 radio. It’s her growing strength as a live performer and strong advocacy for female empowerment — she has taken to flashing audiences as a statement against double standards in the music industry — that will draw the crowds on Sunday afternoon.

The Shins, Saturn Stage; Solange, Budweiser Stage, both 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Okay, technically, this time slot is a toss-up. Houston's hometown R&B soulstress, Solange, is a great option on the Budweiser Stage for those who missed her fantastic performance at Super Bowl Live in February.

For those more inclined to see a legendary indie act return to the live circuit, check out The Shins back after a long hiatus while lead songwriter James Mercer pursued other projects. They might not have maintained the creative peak as when they were the band who "will change your life," new album Heartworms​ is a worthy addition to a discography that contains two stone-cold indie rock classics in Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow.

Flume, Budweiser Stage, 8:40-10 p.m.

The biggest EDM name at this year's bill will split the crowd during the shared time slot with Lorde, enticing the dancers away with some of the hottest productions in the DJ world. The Australian producer, much like The Chainsmokers, has made it big on heart-tugging synth lines, female guest star singers, and well-timed syncopated bass drops. He's sold out stadiums back home and was a major draw at other major festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza. Raver kids, you've been put on notice.

Lorde, Saturn Stage, 8:30-9:40 p.m.

FPSF organizers caught some flack for booking Lorde when the 2017 line-up was first announced, having had her on the bill only a few years ago. Now her headline slot seems downright prescient as the New Zealander is about to drop what is sure to be one of the biggest albums of the year following a much talked-about appearance on Saturday Night Live and the release of top-notch singles, "Green Light," and "Liability." In addition to some adorably awkward dance moves, expect to hear new songs alongside her biggest hits from the star-making 2013 album, Pure Heroine.

Tickets for FPSF are still available at $148 plus fees for General Admission; $250 plus fees for VIP; or $999 for Platinum or at www.fpsf.com/tickets.