UPDATED: Is ACL Festival Ignoring Houston? Does It Even Matter?
By contrast, C3 has never had much of a presence in Houston apart from presenting one-off shows by artists such as David Byrne or Neil Young, and even then once in a very blue moon. Even that has been a relatively recent development as C3 has grown large enough to occasionally challenge the longtime concert gorilla in these parts, Pace/Live Nation. Perhaps a better question is why those promoters didn't explore putting on their own festival somewhere around here, but there are probably a million answers to that one.
Another thing worth considering is that the types of music that ACL Fest tends to book in large quantities -- "adult alternative," indie-rock, jam bands, Americana -- have always been if not specific to Austin, certainly appreciated by audiences in the so-called Live Music Capitol of the World more than almost anywhere else in this part of the country, and certainly more than in Houston. Although the demographics are changing with the recent influx of new residents, Houston has historically preferred its music to be more belligerent and confrontational, and often the work of some fairly drug-addled imaginations.
So as flabbergasting as the thought of ZZ Top's now being bypassed a dozen years in a row is -- or that ACL hasn't somehow lucked into a surprise Beyonce miracle -- it's equally hard to imagine some of our better recent punk or metal bands (Venomous Maximus, Born Liars or Poor Dumb Bastards, say) killing an ACL crowd, except perhaps literally.
By the same token, the thought of unleashing unsettling performers like Indian Jewelry, Z-Ro, Linus Pauling Quartet or Fatal Flying Guilloteens on hippie-dippy Zilker Park is downright laughable. (Roky Erickson of recent ACLs has been serene, almost grandfatherly, not the troubled psych-rock wild man of his youth.) Wild Moccasins, Buxton, Grandfather Child, or the Tontons all could have probably made it these past two or three years, but maybe the stars just didn't line up right. We may never know.
Accordingly, some local artists have found a warmer reception at ACL's "edgier," tattooed younger cousin Fun Fun Fun Fest, which has welcomed Black Congress, Bun B, Devin the Dude, B L A C K I E and Fat Tony in years past. And as little love as has sometimes been lost over the years between the Houston Press and the people behind Free Press Summer Fest, specifically Free Press Houston, we really have no other choice than to salute FPSF for realizing in 2009 that if you want to see a bunch of Houston acts play a big music festival, you might as well start one in Houston.