The Best Music of Free Press Summer Fest 2014
|Photo by Cory Garcia|
Sunday, Jupiter stage
Tired of waiting for Wu-Tang to appear and lacking the energy to fight my way through the crowd at Adventure Club, I was ready to call it a day when I happened past Robert DeLong and was floored with the best set I caught all weekend. DeLong is like a mad scientist on stage; there are drums and video-game controllers and who knows what else, and the end result is the danciest form of controlled chaos I've heard in ages.
Every artist needs a song like "Global Concepts." Yes, he plays his songs too loud, but he also makes the people fucking dance. Also, after the show I watched him take photos with a whole bunch of fans, and that was pretty cool too. CORY GARCIA
Die Antwoord might look frightening at first, but then then they make you love them. It's some of the most fun you could ever have during a live show, and that's just the beats their DJ, Hi-Tek, provides throughout. Mixing their own brand of South African hip-hop with a huge helping of electronic beats you might have found in Zedd's set the night before, Ninja and Yo-Landi Visser brought everything they could and a whole bunch of air-humping and middle fingers to boot.
The duo are a sight to be seen. Oddly matching each other perfectly, the twee Visser was a force to be reckoned with and was the only thing the entire weekend that drew more attention than her counterpart Ninja. JIM BRICKER
Photo by Jim Bricker
Foolishly, I believed Die Antwoord might be gypped of a worthy audience. A half-hour before their show started, most of the grass/mud dancefloor out front of the Saturn stage was void of people. I posted up and anxiously hoped for the crowds to come. By the time the band opened with "Fok Julle Naaiers," the grounds were packed with the Die Antwoord faithful. There was even a Yolandi Visser doppelganger, adorned in full tribal paint, in the crowd.
The crowd is important at a show like this one. Ninja, Yolandi and DJ Hi-Tek are the grown-ass versions of Simon Says. When they tell you to put your hands in the air, you do it. Not because you have to, but yeah, because you have to. When they say, "Jump, motherfucker, jump," you don't even ponder whether you're a motherfucker. You just start jumping.
They played everything I wanted to hear -- "Fatty Boom Boom;" "Baby's On Fire," which bled into "I Fink U Freeky;" "Cookie Thumper;" show closer, "Enter the Ninja." By the time that song ended, that crowd I'd wondered about had shown its full appreciation for a band leaving it all on the stage for us. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
At their first Houston show in four and a half years, Drive-By Truckers stepped off a 15-hour flight from Spain to a FPSF crowd wilting in the high afternoon heat. "Wake up, motherfuckers," prodded singer/guitarist Patterson Hood, and so we did. The triple-guitar Dixie rockers put on an Alabama ass-whuppin' from the get-go with growlers "Marry Me," "Lookout Mountain," "Hell No, I Ain't Happy," and a sampling of tracks from their new album, English Oceans.
Among them was the brooding "Pauline Hawkins," based on musician/author Willy Vlautin's fugue-like novel The Free. One thing that makes the Truckers so dangerous is their ingrained knowledge of Southern R&B and soul, on full display on slow-cooking closer "Grand Canyon." Another is that they actually read books. CHRIS GRAY
It was damn good to see a band with cowboy boots at FPSF. Locals Grand Old Grizzly did, and they also sang lines like "say something nasty if you're trying to make me smile" and "she looked like something I could love out of spite" in tones of wistful roots-rock and hard swing. Sold. CHRIS GRAY
Its may be true that she's a little weird, and sometimes crazy, but dammit can L-Boogie still rock the crowd with her lyrics, attitude and beauty. With a combination of tracks from her Fugees days, as well as from her Miseducation masterpiece, Ms. Hill rocked the crowd with a full backup band in support.
Most of the tracks were rearrangements of her classics, which to some is unbearable, but to me it added to her mystery. My favorite song of the day was "To Zion", an uplifting prayer for her son and love as a whole. It may not have been Woodstock, but for a 45-minute span, it certainly was Free Press Love Fest at the Mars Stage. MARCO TORRES
I can't recall when the last time was that I heard some good news about the former Fugee, so I tried to prepare for a potentially disjointed, disinterested performance. I was relieved to receive a warm and gracious set instead, highlighted by a tight band and some terrific backup singers. Most importantly, she delivered the hits, sounding as fresh as they could. Seems as though the most memorable artist at FPSF is always the one that pleasantly surprises you. NATHAN SMITH
If there was a tree or freeway or tent to stand under, that's where you could find me throughout most of this and any other music festival. But for Los Skarnales, I began my day by dancing, jumping, singing, and yes, sweating underneath the blazing sun in front of the Jupiter Stage. The band seemed extra-pumped, probably fueled by the view of the gorgeous Houston skyline looming above and the multitude of faithful fans who were skanking to the sonidos of the hometown homies. Next month Skarnales celebrate their 20-year anniversary, and continue to leave every show attendee smiling and fascinated, una y otra vez! MARCO TORRES
For some reason going into the fest, with little to base my opinion on, I knew it would be one of the best. And they easily were. The front dude stalked his way around stage with a sly smile that made you both love him and question the motive behind said smile in one fell swoop. Past that, they were one of the most rock and roll rock and roll acts I've seen in a long damn time. So refreshing. Come back soon, Orwells. JIM BRICKER
List continues on the next page.