Sunday: iFest in Downtown Houston -- Galactic, Jason Isbell, Etc.

stone river boys april 23.jpg
Photos by Marco Torres
Stone River Boys
Houston International Festival
Downtown Houston
April 22, 2012

With a slight north breeze keeping festival-goers from broiling under a cloudless sky, Sunday's iFest turned into a perfect laid-back Houston day of rest and entertainment excess. It didn't hurt that the music lineup was both diverse and stellar, that there were virtually no lines and that things ran with an almost informal efficiency that is so typical of the Bayou City.

We started the day with Austin's Stone River Boys and the hundred or so souls mostly scrunched under the big live oak tree which offered the only shade -- shade and sunscreen being in high demand.

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Los Amigos Invisibles
We hustled over to the Center Stage just in time to catch the last few tunes by Ecuadorian power trio Eljuri. Fronted by Cecilia Villar Eljuri, the band showered the crowd in energy and thumping Latino rock grooves, and the crowd returned love and cheers.

Another smart out-of-nowhere booking by the iFest folks, this band needs to play Fitzgerald's or the Continental. Soon.

Before the next musical round got underway, we needed fuel. After scouting the entire food court, we decided the smart thing was to get in the longest line, our logic being all these people aren't waiting for something bad. In ten minutes, we were seated at a picnic table with a picada (sampler) plate from Mi Pueblito, a Colombian restaurant on upper Richmond.

The little tub of green sauce was tart, not hot, and we dipped an odd square of something deep-fried into it. Voilà! Deep-fried pork belly! Shazam! The roast beef and deep-fried sausages were also the bomb, as were the little cubes of deep-fried potato and banana. Enough foodie talk.

Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles had played the large World Stage on Saturday, and they drew an excited crowd to the Center Stage on the courthouse steps Sunday afternoon. It was the hottest part of the day, but no one who crowded to the edge of the stage seemed to care as the six-piece rock-en-español/dance-music powerhouse whipped the crowd into a frenzy with just the kind of dance-funk Houston gets with one eye open. The audience partied hard, yet it was so laid-back for something so electric.


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