The problem with Free Press Summer Fest 2015, and generally with any kind of festival with multiple stages, is the more spectacular the event, the harder the choices. You have to decide going in just what kind of festival goer are you. Are you a researcher and planner who turns your experience into a highly calibrated attack on the day, or are you ready to float free in a fest and let the music on the wind take you wherever?
When it came time for me to decide before heading out to NRG Park Yellow Lot on Sunday, I decided to pick a few acts I had to see and then wander. This strategy was wise at times, naive at others, but I did learn some valuable lessons to get me ready for FPSF 2016.
Houston Artists Are Made of Sterner Cooling Stuff than the Rest of the World
While many of the performers on all the can’t-miss-lists didn’t make an appearance until the sun dipped on the horizon, most of the Houston acts were scheduled earlier in the day. The cynic in me says this was probably because they weren’t the biggest draws, but my H-Town pride also thinks it was perhaps because FPSF organizers didn’t want to sun stroke out anyone from Portland, LA or Glasgow.
Hometown favs the Tontons certainly could take the high temperature and added some sultry musical heat of their own.
Hometown favs the Tontons certainly could take the high temperature and added some sultry musical heat of their own. It was definitely worth braving the intense afternoon sunshine to get to FPSF earlier in the day to hear Asli Omar’s lovely wails.
Naps Are Wasted on the Young
However coming in early to hear some local groups did put me in desperate need for a lie down around 3 p.m.. I was glad to see I wasn’t the only one, as I found kids and adults of all ages wilting into the floor of the Fancy Pants or water spray tents. More power to all you power nappers out there.
Beauty Is Subjective
I don’t think I’ve ever looked at Reliant Stadium so lovingly — actually I’ve never looked at Reliant Stadium lovingly — than after seeing the inside of the Port O Potties and imagining all those lovely clean empty bathrooms just a block away. Also, the several METRO buses stationed around the fest as A/C oases were a sight to behold. Perfect opportunity to get Houstonian millennials into a city bus for the first time there METRO.
Sometimes You Should Let the Elements Be Your Guide
True confession: around 5 p.m., with several great bands playing at the same time, I picked The Mountain Goats as my afternoon session almost solely because of their close proximity to a free water and cooling station. I’m going to let water advise me on musical choices from now on because these indie-folk goats did not disappoint and because I learned the valuable life lesson: “Life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar.” I intend to meditate on this lyric often.
Every Crowd Has Its Own Personality
Even though we were all in this together, it was fun to analyze what attendees gravitated to which acts. Electronic duo GTA seemed to have the best in sync bouncing audience, with the requisite one-hand in the air. Skrillex had the most selfie stick abusers.
Skillrex had the most selfie stick abusers; The Flogging Molly crowd was the place most likely to see a guy wearing a kilt.
Not cool tall guys who kept standing in front of me and waving their sticks around (not a euphemism thankfully). The Flogging Molly crowd was the place most likely to see a guy wearing a kilt.
Meanwhile, electronic music artist Tycho seemed to have the highest percentage of girls in sparkly gold body paint in their crowd, not to mention that one shirtless guy reveling so much in Tycho’s ambient beats that his American flag shorts kept falling half way down his ass. You be awesome you, dude.
I’d also argue that the Decemberists had the most laid back audience, literally, as a small but distinctive portion were pretty much lounging on the asphalt throughout the entire set. This might be because their crowd seemed tied with Skrillex’s for the most times I smelled that distinctive but still-illegal-in-Texas funny smell in the air.
Some Musical Mixtures Should Be Left to Professionals
No matter how efficiently you schedule your own fest experience or how much you flutter through, sooner or later you have to accept you can’t be at two places at once and just choose. This I refused to do when it came to headlining acts Weezer and Skrillex playing at the same time. So what madness did I attempt? Running back and forth between the two stages and between two very different genres of music.
Perhaps some producer could make some musical masterpiece out of the two, but my head still hurts from this sound crash brought on by the stellar performances from the '90s kings of alternative rock and the 21st century master of dubstep. I didn’t drink anything but a gallon of water, but I’m sure to wake up with a musical hangover nevertheless.
But honestly, in the end, totally worth it.