Some Further Thoughts on iFest, and Festivals
Photos by Chris Gray Skyscrapers - something you won't see at Austin City Limits. Western Swing maidens the Quebe Sisters performed in the shadow of the Jesse H. Jones Library.
a) Festivals must take place on vast, treeless expanses of land, with stages placed so far apart they're almost in different area codes; and
b) The main, if not the only, reason people go to festivals is for the music.
At Rocks Off's first-ever experience at the Houston International Festival Sunday afternoon, though, neither one of those turned out to be true.
Mariachi Los Arrieros - all 14 of 'em, and one enthusiastic young fan (below).
The answer should have been obvious: by utilizing every last square inch they could. Especially nice were the area around City Hall, particularly the Center Stage built partially over the reflecting pool and ringed by food and beverage vendors, and the Texas/Latin Zone, which managed to stuff two stages and a few merchant kiosks into the plaza outside the Jesse H. Jones Library.
|Unsurprisingly, the Texas Stage couldn't contain Mariachi Los Arrieros for very long.|
And some stages Sunday did draw significant crowds, especially Northern Ireland's Beoga, who provided some toe-tapping melodies for some of Houston's top Celtic dancers at Center Stage - even though, in the afternoon's only serious sound-bleed problem, those dancers could just as easily have been taking their cues from Big Sam's Funky Nation. Mariachi Los Arrieros' performance was so infectious about half of the 14-member ensemble eventually wound up in the crowd. Or, considering how cramped it looked onstage - it's a wonder the seven violinists were able to keep from bumping elbows - maybe there was just more room down front.
|Beausoleil's lively Cajun two-steps convinced a few brave couples to dance.|
Even this made a certain kind of sense, though: This is Houston, after all, and live music is nice, but here it will almost always take a back seat to eating and shopping. Those of us reared on other festivals in other locales may have a hard time grasping this, but to its credit, iFest obviously does not.