Summerfest is a Houston festival in every sense of the word, and should remain a Houston festival in every sense of the word. Sunday afternoon made that fact abundantly clear to anyone there.
The city is only now beginning to find its own sound meant strictly for young people, and the young people who are helping grow that sound are completely aware they are part of the process. There is a palpable feel to Houston these days, a space-ness (rather than a place-ness, if you will) that has created an excitement for local music unseen over the course of the past decade or so; bands seem to want to stay here rather than leaving for Austin or some such the moment their first record hits a blog.
This was personified perfectly in the three acts that played almost back-to-back-to-back early Sunday. listenlisten kicked it off at the KTRU stage when it was still morning, and big exhausty trucks were literally driving past as the boys were singing their songs Clem Snide-style and dudes riding fixies were trying to impress girls wearing headbands as they walked past old guys without shirts asking for directions to the bus-stop, because they were sorta lost and just wandered in to the festival without a ticket.
But who really gives a shit that they didn't have a ticket, because all they're really good for is to look totally dope in their ambivalence to fitting in amongst the fitting-inners, and now ListenListen's giving away free shirts. Match that, ACL.
Playing a festival show at 11:00 a.m. is obviously ungodly, so it's no fault of anyone's (other than maybe the diabolical planners) that listenlisten had to play in front of like a dozen loyalists who seemed to know every word in the 20-odd-minute set, but they should have gone on later. And the fact that they are taking a two- or three-month hiatus only goes to show that those who missed it should regret missing it.
listenlisten is an integral part in making Houston relevant in the gargantuanly overstuffed animal that is indie music. They sound new and vintage at the same time, integrating what sounds like four-track style instrumentation on top of apolitical folk-pop like a breath of fresh air. It feels like they want us to be them, and it's hard to explain how important that is for this city. They are ours, and we are theirs; and we both seem to know it. Feels like hugging.