June 5th, 2013
Free Press Summer Festival 2013: The Stars Align
Welcome back, friends. No, that’s what you’re supposed to tell us. You see, you’ve missed us quite a bit over the last ten or so months. If you don’t remember, we’re your favorite, independent, Houston arts and culture blog website. Seriously, you told us so yourself. NO TAKE-BACKS! It’s only fitting that we dive right back into the fray with how we started: Free Press Summer Festival.
Things were a lot different back in 2009: we shot the first iteration of FPSF on film (*le gasp*), there was but one place to buy food, paint slip-n-slides were all the rage, Fancy Pants passes were $40, local acts took the stage because national acts weren’t taking chances, etc. Our little, Houston summer festival has grown up. Yes, “our.” More than anything else, the thing that strikes home the most walking through Eleanor Tinsley Park during two days of music and food and drinks is that the festival is uniquely Houston; embracing the city, embraced by the city.
Some of the local flair is gone. Through five years of organization bands with Houston roots are less a part of the proceedings and Washington/Montrose food trucks have found different parking, though Anvil found representation. Admittedly, I miss those local elements left behind, but if you were willing to get out there early, you had your fair share of 11:00AM, H-town rock and let’s not overlook the much-anticipated Geto Boys (minus Bushwick Bill) reunion underneath the gaze of downtown.
Houston is much more popularly renowned for the hip hop scene anyway. You know what? I’m completely fine with that. There are plenty of nights to be spent at Fitzgerald’s and Walter’s and Avant Garden with mandolins, steel guitars and Houston’s indie brass, but I can’t tell you the next time seeing a Paul Wall date is going to inspire me. Why not once a year at Free Press Summer Festival? The surprise cameo by Bun B (a FPSF staple at this point) during the set performed by Macklemore was more exciting than I would have imagined… along with the “Thrift Shop” artist wearing a Drexler jersey, albeit from his days in Portland. Honestly, it was one of my favorite moments altogether.
Taking in the moment was what it was all about for me this year. It felt nice being able to wander the grounds as a by-stander; special, green press wristband not withstanding. The only two sets that felt “unmissable” were those of Dawes and Geto Boys. My camera found use exactly one time (so, let’s all count ourselves lucky for the inset photography of Alexander). Out of all the shows that I caught, I can’t say a single one was weak-to-terrible and there were plenty of surprises.
There haven’t been many complaints voiced to me over the last few days as we all digest the event and recover from the hydration. “A definite B-plus” is what I’ve heard the most–in multiple conversations with myself. The line-up was solid with mid-range star power. The more popular acts were indeed popular, filling up the natural amphitheater and spilling into Allen Parkway, a sight that I may very well have scoffed at in years past. This year I told myself “it’s ok that you’re not “super stoked about Bassnectar, yo” (or whatever it is the kids say these days). The reason being this year felt more like a “festival” more than a string of bands that I needed to see.
The fact of the matter is, FPSF 2013 was enough to get me off of the couch and back in the blogger’s couch front of the Smith Corona. Let’s call this what it is: It’s the return of the mac. What it is. What it does. What it is. What it isn’t. Our tens of fans are definitely meagerly excited about this resurgence. I for one am hoping for another five years of summer music fests to guarantee at least five more articles before our domain registration expires.
One Auxiliary Anecdote: I was in line to grab a beer on day one as I waited for Arctic Monkeys to take the stage. A couple in front of me turned around and asked what my green wristband meant. It told them it was a press pass. They then asked, “oh, is that why it’s called ‘free press summer fest?” No, I assured them, Free Press is one of the free weeklies. “Oh, we’re not from Houston,” they told me, but it would have been oh so great if they had been.