Top 6 Ways To Improve Summer Fest Next Year

Afrojack wideshot Bru June 7.jpg
Photo by Marc Brubaker
Not bad, not bad at all.
More FPSF 2012 Coverage:
Summer Fest line-up reviews on the Rocks Off blog.

Free Press Summer Fest 2012: The Sexy, Sweaty Crowds

Popsicles and Pizza: The Food of Summer Fest

FPSF: The Bands from Saturday

FPSF: The Bands from Sunday

Free Press Summer Fest is very much still a work in progress. This past weekend, nowhere else was this more evident than when the barricades blocking a good part of the Eleanor Tinsley Park lawn in front of that Jeep display led to a horrendous bottleneck of people between the two main stages Saturday. That magically disappeared overnight, or rather they got pushed back drastically, enough that walking back and forth wasn't much of a problem Sunday.

There's almost no possible way the Summer Fest organizers could have imagined the kind of crowds they got this weekend, a total figure generally estimated to be 92,000. That's one and a half times last year's count of 60,000, and with that kind of numbers come some of the more unpleasant aspects of music festivals: Long lines, shortages, poor waste disposal, filthy portapotties (and not enough).

Usually those kinds of things happen when supply far outnumbers demand, so it would be wrong to say the event wasn't successful.

FPSF Pelican GH June 7.jpg
Photo by Groovehouse
The Chronicle editorial board certainly seems to think to. Even if they can't spell "Snoop Dogg" right, they had nothing but good things to say about the festival on the editorial page Wednesday morning.

"One would be hard pressed to find a music festival more beautiful than Free Press Summer Fest," the editors crowed in that stilted, oddly aloof tone the daily often takes. "This is the Houston that we should want people to see." I almost feel like a killjoy pointing out that the Chronicle was a media partner with Summer Fest this year, for the first time, but hell, I'll do it anyway.

So everybody loves Summer Fest. Of course we do. After all the fun we've had, it would be hard to find a music-loving Houstonian who wants it to disappear. But there are also aspects of the festival that could have been handled a lot better.

I scrolled through a couple of FPSF-related threads on Reddit's Houston forum, the comments on Rocks Off's "WTF" blog from Monday, and the experiences of both myself and others at the park to come up with this oh-so-helpful, take-it-or leave-it list of suggestions for Summer Fest 2013.

I love you, you're perfect, now change.


Location Info

Map

Eleanor Tinsley Park

500 Allen Parkway, Houston, TX

Category: General

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10 comments
Fight
Fight

I don't think you realize how many people bought tickets last minute. I know at least 5 people who got tickets day or week of the event (out of about 10 people total). Since they start setting everything up about a week in advance and they can't really use the online sales numbers due to spikes in sales for the last couple days. I'd bet they use last years number plus a decent amount of growth and weren't expecting this year to grow substantially more than last- which it did. FPSF isn't like coachella and sell out in a day with a fixed number of known sales, though overestimating is always the safe bet in situations like these.

Michael N
Michael N

I didn't have any of these problems other than waiting in line for some too sweet corn dogs that weren't spicy.  The nachos were pretty bland and blah and i chunked them because of the chili but there was no line for them or the water and beer.  In fact I got water on the street and then from there got refills of water for free i n about 3o seconds.  The girls driving the carts were the same kind of fairly overweight single middle aged girls you see a lot and they  looked terrified going through the crowds but the crowds moved out and there were zero problems with them and getting into the festtval even with the line was pretty easy.  I just wished that the adorable cool indie style girl next door would have given me her number.   There was no problem- I went on Sunday- moving between the main stages and it was great so great to spontaneously bump inot the amazing Orgone as they started their first song on the small stage with the 60s/70s/Acid Jazz funk and the crowd demanding an encore at the end.  My problem was that the line-up is a lot to be desired.  Orgone was incredible close up with it's chicano rock- soul-funk-acid Jazz.  But Willie was a lame greatest hits of all the girls he's banged before and caused him to lose his money in divorce- the crowd was largely dead to him and walking around the place talking and getting food during the show.  And if we are going Nostalgia why not go Nostallgia/elder statesman instead with ZZ Top or say  Depeche Mode or even the Cure- of the Morrrissey New Age bands Mode is probably the best.  We need the bands that put on the best shows not the ones that are "legends" like Willie.  I'd much rather see Orgone because that is a real show and close up or say the Mountain Goats on stage 5 for an Indie Act.  But we need the big guys like NIN on the main stage and I vote that the festival is cut to one day to accomodate the price- the Free Press could also figure out how to get a rich kid from a big family in town to feel like they are donating to building a festival that really tops Austin to make this happen.  So far I think the FPSF people are really on to what they need to do to make this festival succeed and I would say more food that is not stripped down tastes with sugar like black people feed us or they provide when black people are the main customers like at the resturant in Saks in the Galleria where it is now mostly black people eating there.  Real food and diverse choices not just the most obvious versions of carnival food- nachos, corn dog, hamburger, hot dog, novelty ice cream and little else.  The tacos that looked real from a guy who were making them real were sold out.  Then better bands and closing with Pretty Lights where the one guy on stage doesn't even push one button but just dances and says "What the F Houston let's fing give it the S up Houston" every 5 minutes is lame.  That is not acceptable.  A closer is NIN with the full art films and gimmicks.  And we need a legend that captures more of the rock spirit of the show- ZZ TOp would be one albeit slightly too classic rock, Depeche MOde cuuld be another- a little tame but long solos and cool and something both sexes can appreciate and sing and dance too.  THe Avert Brothers were funny as the Foo Fighters meet the Clancy Brothers and maybe not getting us to take the doom and gloom of live so seriously and great but I felt like they should hvae been lower on the bill and then more great live performances after them. Pearl Jam is one to consider if you are going elder statesman.  Just the ones that are great live not which band has to play to be cool and hipster.  And cut it to one day so you can get these acts and not have to scrimp. Get donations, a board of kids from the rich people in town to get the acts, whatever Then from there.  You can pay them back later.

PBMax
PBMax

1) And maybe next year actually hook up the free water to the plumbing.  We arrived Saturday only to find the water station next to the merch market not even hooked up.  And no one there knew who to tell about getting it hooked up. 2) And I don't appreciate being herded like cattle through a slow moving crowd because Jeep had a whole area blocked off for no real reason.  Seriously, who is going to waste their time driving a Jeep at FPSF?

Fight
Fight

Coachella is mid april, so the only realistic time for this would be early-mid may or November (which would probably - unfairly - disqualify it as a legitimate festival). Not many major fests during that time- I think New Orleans Jazz Fest and maybe the one in Alabama.  I grew up in Houston and traveled from Boston for FPSF the last 2 years to hang out with friends and fam and have to say that the weather this year was completely tolerable. I was there 1-10 both days and must've drank close to a gallon of water each day but I don't think moving the festival would be the best idea. The first year in August was hell, and last year day 1 was pretty bad, but overall this is the best time if they want to keep the "summerfest" aspect of it. Its also right after HISD lets out so everyone is free but no one has started travelling yet.  I'd be down with a separate/smaller winterfest in December or January. San Fransisco has two festivals, a big one in the summer and a smaller one in fall. Think of it as ACL vs FFFFest. Maybe in a couple years Houston will be ready for this, but I think FPSF is still in its developing stage.

Morris Day rocked!
Morris Day rocked!

One wristband for two days?? At least make them out of something that lasts till the second day. Other than that, great festival!

Rocks Off
Rocks Off

Note that FSPF has no control over the wireless at the festival, so "whatever kind of wireless infrastructure" is at the festival is just the towers of the individual service providers. Our apologies. But don't text and tweet so much next year and it will probably be a little better.

Christinalynn
Christinalynn

and maybe have a sign above them that says "watering station." I had trouble the first day FINDING the stations.

Omar
Omar

i think summerfest in its current date fits logistically as an in between two bigger festivals, Sasquatch on the West Coast and Bonnaroo in TN.  There is little competition where it currently is, Lollapalooza in in August (even hotter in Houston), and ACL is in October, not to mention, you wouldn't want to have two TX festivals back to back.  Pretty Lights, STRFKR, Clap your Hands, Avett Brothers, Shabazz Palaces, robert ellis, phantogram, fitz, two door, young the giant all had some kind of overlap with either Sasquatch or Bonnaroo.  All that being said...what about the weekend or 2 before Sasquatch - too close to Coachella?

Cde
Cde

I too would prefer the festival in a cooler month, but what limitations do they actually face with "festival season"?

Bongofett
Bongofett

1. It's Houston - Summer's gonna be hot.  Just add more water stations... The shower thing was nice for those that jumped in. 2. Summerfest Rocks!!

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