Inside GhoulsFest, Houston's Newest Music Festival

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This weekend the first annual GhoulsFest was announced for October 30 out at Tom Bass Park in Pearland. Things like this usually get telegraphed in a big way from bands leaking things out on Facebook and the like, but not this time.

The event is thankfully set for one of the cooler parts of the year, so at worst the weather may be muggy but not hot enough to engage in partial nudity. Its location, Tom Bass Park off Cullen right on the outskirts of Pearland offers plenty of free parking.

As for the lineup, it's completely diverse and full of groundbreaking, pivotal national acts but still has its feet firmly planted in Houston. Locals will be playing on the same stages as the bigger bands.

Heading up the inaugural Ghoulsfest are Bad Brains, Daniel Johnston, Fischerspooner, ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, We Are Scientists, and a DJ set from members of Hot Chip, while locals and Texas-centric bands on the bill include Fat Tony, Black Congress, Scale The Summit, Girl In A Coma, Spain Colored Orange, The Live Lights, and Roky Moon & Bolt.

We caught up with the team behind GhoulsFest - Hector Del Valle, Collean Laney and
Mark Levine - earlier Monday to see what's up with the new festival and what attendees can expect from the event's maiden voyage.

Rocks Off: How did Ghoulsfest come about? What was genesis of this idea?

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GhoulsFest: Fifteen years ago next month, Mark first went to the Reading Music Festival in England. Having been to SXSW, HORDE and Lollapalooza for several years prior made no impact in comparison to what Reading festival would do. The seeds of a full scale "European-style" music festival were planted.

A dozen years and as many international festivals later, Collean and Mark came up with the idea to plant a European festival in Houston. With the dismal attendance at the hair-band festival "Rock the Bayou" in 2008, they put their idea on hold to try to gauge the market and the economy.

GhoulsFest is described internally as a mini-fest. It is only a one-day event, the venue only holds 7,000 people, that's half the size of the Woodlands Pavilion, and one-fourth the distance from downtown, and only has two stages.

We are still working with the mindset of creating a full experience even for such an inexpensive ticket and for only the ten hours that we are open. There will be plenty to do when people aren't listening to bands.

RO: How did you manage Bad Brains and Daniel Johnston? The line-up is solid as hell for a debut festival.

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GF: The lineup is so diverse because the three people who are in the middle of the organization are so diverse. Collean has a tendency towards punk-pop bands and math-rock, Mark prefers Brit-pop and has a slight tinge of electronic, and Hector is more into the hard-rock guitar bands.

There are of course similarities and overlaps, but you can definitely see more than one personality within the lineup, and we think that also reflects the Houstonians that we're booking for.

RO: Do you have festival template you are going by? What festivals could you compare this to?

GF: If we had to compare ourselves to any festival, we would love to believe we are in some small way comparable to the O2 Wireless festival that takes place in Hyde Park, London. While it happens over several weekends, each day is packaged individually so if you can only make one day, you still have an awesome time.

That's what we want, for people to come out and enjoy the whole day. The park, the bands, the food, all of it.

RO: How important will the local bands be at Ghoulsfest? Will they be on a separate stage or playing along side the national acts?

GF: Local is the theme to GhoulsFest. The food is local, the art is local, the people are local, we are locals. Because there are two stages and we only have ten hours of music time, you could see The Live Lights on the same stage as We Are Scientists.

RO: Why Tom Bass Park?

GF: Tom Bass Park is a beautiful location for a small outdoor mini-fest. A permanent amphitheatre exists at the park, complete with water fountains and flushing toilets. Because it is outside the downtown area, we are able to offer secure free parking for those who attend the event.

Paying for parking at a music festival is unheard of in Europe, and makes no sense to us.

RO: Is there anything else about Ghoulsfest that we need to know about?

GF: Tickets are on sale now for only $35 but after September 1 they go up,. so buy them now while the gettin' is good.



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