Summer Fest Sunday: Peak Fun With B L A C K I E, Hayes Carll, Guitar Wolf, Yeasayer, Robert Ellis & More
MORE OF SUMMER FEST
Jim Bricker Good ole boy done good: Hayes Carll had a productive homecoming.
Last Night: Weezer At Free Press Summer Fest
Summer Fest Saturday: A Sizzler With Beirut, Big Boi, Black Joe, Fucked Up, Sharon Jones, Ween & More
Chris Gray: Not long after I got to Summer Fest Sunday, I spotted festival honcho Omar Afra finishing up one of local musician/yogi Tyagaraja's yoga workshops in the wooden glade known temporarily as the Budweiser Beer Garden. (No doubt he needed it.) Afra told me that the festival had already reached last year's take... six weeks ago. However many people did show up to Eleanor Tinsley Park this weekend, both the attendance and the heat index were well north of Summer Fest 2010, Flaming Lips and all.
So where does the festival go from here? Hard as it may be to believe, Summer Fest may have yet to peak. On the the park's western edge, the festival's two new stages, Budweiser and Gritsy/Reprogram, seemed pretty sparsely attended every time I walked up there. Maybe it took a while for all the people entering through the downtown gate to realize they were there.
The one good crowd I saw at the Budweiser Stage this weekend was for HEALTH, who had the good fortune to play just as Sunday's cooling breeze and long-awaited rain shower began. Although I was a captive audience (parked under a tree, ready to ride the lightning), I'll call their tribal electro-grind my favorite set from Sunday because it was the most unique thing I heard all day, and because at this point Hayes Carll - who introduced himself and his "Gulf Coast Orchestra" as from Houston - would be a little obvious.
Neph Basedow: I didn't think it was possible to trump Saturday's high temperature, but my first few minutes at FPSF on Sunday would prove otherwise. Midway through Yeasayer's 3:45 set and I found myself scouting shaded sightlines. Back-to-back Black Angels and Yeasayer sets on the Main Stage was a certain Sunday highlight; both bands ignited sporadic crowd dance parties - however lethargic, due to the heat.
Jim Bricker Yeasayer
A welcome rain lessened the heat as I took in noise-popsters Neon Indian. Alan Palomo and co. are consistently good and they indeed held their own on a mid-size festival stage, but at times veered into borderline overly experimental electronica territory, as in more "noise" than "pop."
Nagasaki, Japan garage-punk trio Guitar Wolf topped my Sunday must-see list. Clad in dark sunglasses and black leather, the band was instantaneously amusing and, in a relief, more than talented to back up their overt yet endearing "tuff" image. Their loud, distorted guitar tones, screeching vocals, and bizarrely frenetic onstage demeanor were downright captivating; they're like the Japanese love child of the Clash and the Ramones.
Marc Brubaker Guitar Wolf
But their every move was cliché in terms of Americanized rock definitions; if they were an American band, we'd dub their choreographed jumps, forced image, and incessant unison "1-2-3-4!"s as cock rock, but Guitar Wolf seem to defy the odds, as they were an interesting highlight of the day.
I've always enjoyed Cut Copy's live shows, and Sunday's was just as enjoyable as I set up shop for Weezer's headlining set. The Main Stage area's capacity already doubled Saturday's an hour before Weezer even began.
Jim Bricker Peekaboo: Cut Copy
I can't count how many times I saw Weezer in high school and college, but I admittedly jumped-ship post-"Green Album." Lucky for me, most of Sunday's set was Blue-heavy; I heard all my favorite Weezer songs ("The World Has Turned and Left Me Here," "Suzanne," "Say It Ain't So," "Only In Dreams") save one ("No One Else") and, sadly, most of Pinkerton.
I maintain a love-hate relationship with this band, but their set was pretty perfect. Nostalgia aside; it was fun with a strong set list that recognized the simple truth that most of the crowd wanted to hear old material, and Weezer didn't seem to mind. Rivers Cuomo joked with the crowd, his band and even took sarcastic jabs at his sound guys.
As if closer "Buddy Holly" wasn't a feel-good enough way to bow out, fireworks lit the sky as we left the park, Weezer's trademark "=W=" symbol still aglow.
As a relative newbie to Houston's music-fest circuit after previously working seasoned festival cities Austin and Chicago, I was pleased to witness the city's music community unite for an exclusively locally-run fest. My only hope for FPSF's years to come is that is continues to grow into its own entity with no further comparisons to ACL, etc., because it's deemed itself worthy of at least that.