Category: Events

FPSF: Lightning Strikes Twice, Sparks Fly at Free Press

It was early afternoon on Day 2 of Free Press Music Fest, and the California-based Stick Figure was playing a reggae cover of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. It was then that God exhibited his twisted sense of humor, so that as the final chorus was sung, festivalgoers were notified to evacuate the premise immediately. Wish You Were Here? Attendees forced to leave halfway through the day were left wishing they could stay.

But this day, the evacuation was different – different because they had to do the exact same song and dance the day before. Except this time, they were never allowed back in.

For every great performance, there’s a stormed-out story to overshadow it. For every great bite, there’s a soggy romper crumpled up in the back of the car. For everything Free Press Summer Fest had done right and gotten under control, it will be remembered for the weather that was out of their hands.

Free Press has been under fire for years, with criticisms pointed at weak lineups and poor days of the year. C3 Presents, the festival’s majority shareholder, has been feeling the pressure ever since, made evident by their lack of ticket upcharges and single-day ticket sales.

But while the critics stayed at home, a lively and captivated audience stepped foot on Eleanor Tinsley Park to find a masterfully produced event. From corporate sponsors like Brisk and the Taco Bell Food Truck giving away free items, to the Houston Eats row of local restaurants serving some of our cities finest meals, the first half of Day One was finely tuned and orchestrated seemingly with ease.

Free Press has always strived to provide the most inclusive entertainment for the nation’s most city, proven by their large variety of artists, genres, and amenities. You know that if a festival starts Day One off with Black Swan Yoga for fit and adventurous festivalgoers alike, you’re up for a fun ride.

The calm before the storm was anything but: local artist -Us had the audience vibing to his electronica symphonies, Hurray for the Riff Raff struck all kinds of chords with their anti-war melodies, The Struts rocked out with unparalleled audience engagement, and Jon Bellion captivated an audience with a vocal range wider than Buffalo Bayou’s flood gauge.

But it was during Bishop Briggs’ set, the artist most known for the rock hit “River,” that torrential downpour flooded Eleanor Tinsley Park quite literally like a river. The hill between the Budweiser and Mercury Stages turned from a relaxing viewing spot to a muddy slip-and-slide that claimed the outfits of many, leaving many retro basketball jerseys and floral rompers looking like something you could buy from Nordstrom’s for $425.

Beneath the heavy downpour were more than attendees sprawling for the exits, but rather an amazing showcase of human nature – not what you’d expect from a summer music festival with a predominately high school audience.

While attempting to escape the rain, it wouldn’t be odd to be helped up those muddy slopes by a human chain of people, linked arm-in-arm, pulling people through as if they were horses stuck in quicksand.

While looking for shade, it wasn’t out of the ordinary to find a bridge with over a hundred people covering underneath, still managing to squeeze closer together to make room for the occasional straggler. 

While venturing towards unpopulated areas of cover, it was commonplace to find an extended poncho or blown-down Taco Bell banner draped above a swingset for use as a makeshift tent.

As terrible conditions had been, there were still people refusing to leave, even when forced out by the security crew, because the thought of that night’s musical performance overshadowed the thoughts of staying dry. And when the festival reopened their doors hours after having been closed, the festival continued as if nothing ever happened, with avid festivalgoers rushing to see the artists they came there to see in the first place.

Post Malone was grateful in his welcoming on stage, understanding the shit each and every one of the audience members experienced just to see him play. And with that graciousness, he blew the crowd away with party anthems “Congratulations” and “Go Flex” showcasing his raspy rap style and graveled vocals. He may as well been the headliner for the evening, because if anybody were to remember one performance at all that night, it was going to be his.

But Day Two came and went. Cut short well before the halfway point of the day, some had not even been able to attend Day Two at all. Hundreds of ticket payers checked their phones for any updates while huddled in the nearby parking lots, only to receive word of its cancellation and 50% refund policy.

And like that, Free Press will be remembered for its downfalls and downpours, rather than the truly amazing event it had been prior to its setbacks.

And like that, the future of Free Press remains in the balance.

 

 

Bonobo, Yppah @ GroundHall 11/19/10 (video)

groundhall from Gary Clawston on Vimeo.

The night started off with me listening to my good friends, Yppah, outside the front door to Groundhall. Why? Because I didn’t have cash and the credit card machine was down, so I couldn’t get in. Boo. From what I heard, Yppah sounded great although, sadly I can’t comment much further than that, for the aforementioned reasons.

Eventually I was able to get in, thanks to the kindness and generosity of my devilishly handsome friend Metal Adam (thanks again – I owe you one!). Bonobo, with their deep basal tones, playful keys and nonstop horns, combined with Andreya’s raspy voice make this 7 piece the type of band you can’t help but bob your head, no matter what mood you’re in. Drum & sax solo with distortion on the sax! It’s not nearly as lame as it sounds. In short, Houston loves Bonobo and I think the feeling’s mutual.

-Iris

twitter.com/iweeden

 

Exclusive: Junip @ Fitz

So I got the chance to catch Junip Friday night. I’ve been listening to these guys for a bit now but their album does not do them justice, they are spectacular live. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I got there. I mean, album is very relaxing,  a very mellow listen and as most know those shows can honestly go either way. I was more than exciting to know that these guys are true performers. A xylophone solo?.. COME ON!! Thats bad ass. Needless to say if I these guys come back to town I will surely be there and for of those who were not there this time I seriously recommend you not miss it. Enjoy the video I caught of them this past Friday night.

 

IndieHouston Goes to Fitzgerald’s to see Freelance Whales

Freelance Whales performed at Fitzgerald's on Nov. 10, 2010

NOV. 16, 2010

Last Wednesday I went to Fitzgerald’s one of Houston’s oldest and finest venues for two reasons: to experience Freelance Whales – a band that has received much media coverage over the past year; and, of course, to see Grandfather Child with Robert Ellis & the Boys perform the songs that have made both bands local legends.

Based in Queens, N.Y., Freelance Whales is comprised of 5 people all of which are multi-instrumentalists. The muted drums, harmonium, banjo, & xylophone were all nice touches and I believe is the main factor that sets this band apart from others. Their synthisized tones and vocals, though, reminded me of The Anniversary, which, if you haven’t heard of before – I highly recommend. Although Freelance Whales reminded me of one of my favorite groups, their energy simply wasn’t present – it seemed to me as if they were deflated or perhaps exhausted from the tour. Even the audience, despite cheering and yelling requests for Broken Horse and The Great Estates, also seemed unenthused and didn’t really dance. I say that with the caveat that Houston audiences generally seem unenthused and don’t dance (tsk tsk).

I understand this isn’t a band that you’re going to rock out too – they are much more mellow – the type of band you listen to on a rainy day. Their sound is so soft and sublte, the build ups they had were nice but still anti-climactic. Maybe that’s what they’re going for, but I think you can still be a somber band and put on a great live performance that leaves the crowd pumped and talking about what a great experience it was. In fact when the show was over, and as I walked with the crowd down the stairs, I really didn’t hear much banter about the show. People didn’t linger, they just left Fitz – don’t they know Robert Ellis & the Boys are playing?!?! Seriously, if you haven’t seen them or Grandfather Child you’re missing out.
I asked a couple of people in the crowd what they thought of Freelance Whales, here are their responses:
Nathan like Freelance Whales because of their “thriving 4/4 rhythm and airy melodic tunes”
Austin came to the show because he “heard one song [online] and there wasn’t shit to do on Wednesday night.”


Iris Weeden
twitter.com/iweeden

 

Indiehouston at SXSW 2009


sxsw ih day party1 590x385 Houston Music Travels to Austin SXSW 2009

by Charlie Brite

It hurt my soul to go back to a 9 to 5 today after spending a week at Austin’s SXSW festival. For five days, I did nothing but dash from one end of the city to the other, listening to some of the best, most innovative musicians in the country. There were even moments around 3:30 AM when, for the first time in my life, I felt like I’d had my fill of rock; but then some band like The Wavves or Soft Pack would start to play, and I’d feel like a teenager at her first punk show all over again. This was Indiehouston’s first time showcasing atSXSW, and we rolled back into town Sunday night a little wiser, a lot deafer, and pumped to ensure that next year, Houston bands will make an even bigger impression at SXSW.

The Showcase:

Eighteen bands played on two stages at the Indiehouston.org SXSW showcase. B L A C K I E kicked off the show with a characteristically ear-splitting, gut-wrenching set, followed by Muhammad Ali on the Sugar Hill stage. After telling Joe Mathlete that he had, “the friendliest face. That I’ve ever seen . . . Maybe,” Jana Hunter serenaded us with some new hits-in-the-making, like “A Dog’s Dick,” ” Two Cocks” and “Batman,” which, in the words of Jana, “is about that  time, from the official franchise, when Batman gives up and his friends have to convince him to come back.” Her band operates like a jazz trio, watching each other intently, changing tempo and time signatures without a hiccup.

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dsc 0105 590x392 Houston Music Travels to Austin SXSW 2009

Muhammad Ali Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 09

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The Wild Mocassins Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 2009

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The TonTons Indiehouston SXSW Day Party

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News on The March Indiehouston SXSW Day Party 2009

News on the March was up next and had us dancing to those feel-good, upbeat, folksy tunes, “Clapping Good Time” (which is about wife-beating) and “The Whole Universe is Gonna Die.” The Riff Tiffs mellowed things out again with their mesmerizing, psychedelic rock. Halfway through the four-song set, Chris Rehm drew a laugh from the audience when he announced, “We’re gonna play two more songs-it might sound like one. We just played two-they might’ve sounded like twenty.” Indeed, each of their slowly swelling, cavernous songs bleed seamlessly into the next. As always, Buxton, The Young Mammals, The Wild Moccasins, and The Ton Tons played tight sets which had the crowd dancing and singing along. After it got dark, DD/MM/YYYY bounced on our brand-new stage like it was a trampoline, threatening to cause an avalanche of sound equipment with their high-energy rock. The lead singer doubles on drums for a massive sound, and I was especially impressed with their keyboard player who plays two synths at once, back to back, meaning one of his hands is playing upside-down and backwards. Tambersauro closed out the night, despite the vulture-like cops slowly circling our tents. They asked us to “turn it down,” but in the words of Rob (director of Indiehouston), “How do you turn down that insane drummer?” All day long, the free Tito’s vodka and sweet tea was pouring, thanks to our sponsors and all the other bands who played: Sings, Paris Falls, Watermarks, Kristine Mills, Gormeh Sabzi, Fat Tony, and Giant Princess.

Top 5 Moments of SXSW (OTHER than our showcase):

-The Dirty Projectors final show at French Legation: In an idyllic park, Dave Longstreth and his beautiful, insanely talented sidewomen blew our minds with a long set of almost entirely new music. Half the band was sick, but it was their best show of SXSW.

-The Wavves at the Peacock Room: Inside a shoebox of a venue that would make a sauna feel like a fridge and your Zangief’s armpits smell zestfully clean, The Wavves played a raucous set despite the overwhelming heat and humidity.

-The Indiehouston staff eavesdropped on Daniel Johnston at East Side Pizza an hour before his show. He was intently pressing a marijuana leaf to his nose while discussing album artwork with his posse.

-The Wild Moccasins’s showcase was on the news!

-Devo: I wasn’t there (no wristband, sniff), but apparently it was totally amazing and rocked everybody’s socks off, blah, blah, etc. Yea, I’m jealous.

Most Heartbreaking Moment of SXSW

B L A C K I E, one of the most original and hard-working artists I’ve heard anywhere, ALMOST played a guerilla show on Austin’s Lamar bridge at 3 AM Saturday night, almost played the last great show of SXSW. Members of Buxton, The Young Mammals, and Giant Princess helped him haul his giant speakers onto the middle of the bridge-they were set up in ten minutes. A number of other bands were taking turns playing, and despite our urging him to blast them the fuck into the Colorado River, B L A C K I E decided to be a gentleman and wait until they were finished. So there he sat, on a chilly, windy night, on top of his truck-sized sound setup, the river reflecting Austin’s skyline behind him. It was an impressive image, and many Austinites stopped and asked me who he was and what was going to go down. A crowd gathered around and started chanting “B L A C K I E, B L A C K I E.” As the last band finished, the five-hundred or so people on the bridge started to conglomerate around the setup. My heart wanted so badly for him to play, just because he deserves the exposure, just because anyone who sees Mike LaCour perform can never forget it and can only crave to hear him again. But right as my ears were itching for that painfully loud, “Oooooohhh FUCK! A KID JUST GOT SHOT, ” I saw one of the most heartbreaking images of my life–ten cops, strutting up the bridge, waggling their flashlights in people’s faces. We were told to disperse or be arrested. But it WILL happen next year, and you need to be there.

 

Photos by Richard Ramirez II

 

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