The Best Music of Free Press Summer Fest 2014
|Photo by Jim Bricker|
Sunday, Neptune stage
When The tUnE-yArDs started their Sunday afternoon set, I thought to myself, "What is this?" Reggae? Pop? Indie-rock? This is the moment I was suddenly completely refreshed -- this performance reinstated my belief that truly unique music still exists in the universe. It hasn't all been done!
tUnE-yArDs seem like if The Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, Robyn and Bananarama all had a love child together. There's soulful singing, crazy outfits, eclectic instrument timing and backup dancers all working together to create a solitary sound experience for the listener. Their incomparable show makes me extremely excited to start following this group more closely. SELENA DIERINGER
Nostalgia at a festival just works, like getting asked for a ton of drugs you don't have or sweating out in a basketball jersey dating back to the '80s. As often as we hear about Houston's new acts, the guys busting their ass to trade links over the Internet can't really top the zenith period before them. The Glory Houston Rap Year of Our Lord was on hand as Bun B anchored an all-Houston rap set on the Neptune Stage. There, with the skyline draped behind him and about 10,000 people smack-dab in the middle of Allen Parkway, he led a "Houston" chant to remind us that they'd never leave.
Mike Jones, above anyone else, seemed like he was warped straight from that era when he appeared onstage in an icy-white T-shirt, black Versace frames and white doo-rag. FPSF managed to do what no Swishahouse reunion before it could -- get all three "Still Tippin" rappers, including Paul Wall and Slim Thug, in the same vicinity.
True, there were a few minor gaffes like everyone looking directly at Z-Ro to handle his hook to "Get Throwed," but to get something you normally see in fractions all together was worth it. Headliner or not, the Texas Boys won. BRANDO
Photo by Marco Torres Z-Ro
It's always hard to pick the best act you saw at a festival with so many of them, but I remember being impressed the most by the "Welcome to Houston" team-up of lots and lots of local money-making rappers.
One of my favorite parts of FPSF has always been seeing the H-town all-stars of hip-hop rock huge crowds, but I don't remember any of assembled characters ever playing to an audience as large and loose as the one at the Neptune Stage on Saturday evening. I was partial to Devin the Dude's performance, as I always am, but all of the Houston rappers arrived on point and ready to blow. It was a great set. NATHAN SMITH
Quite possibly the most important musical moment in the history of Free Press Summer Festival came at the very end of this year's edition. Within moments of the familiar drum-and-bass riff of "Seven Nation Army" pumping through the humid night air, overlooked by the engulfing Houston skyline, Jack White proved his standing at the peak of the marquee.
He was the one true headliner, and easily lived up to that name. Mixing together his entire catalog, from the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and his most recent solo material, White failed to disappoint the largest crowd of the weekend. JIM BRICKER
Despite missing possibly their best-known member, Method Man, the entire rest of the Wu-Tang Clan got together on Allen Parkway for an old-school East coast hip-hop soirée. Easily the most influential act of the weekend, save for maybe Dwight Yoakum (a big maybe), Wu-Tang were on their game for this performance. And while Meth's signature sound was well-missed, it didn't dent classics like "C.R.E.A.M." and "Bring Da Ruckus." JIM BRICKER
After fighting the mud and eventually settling into a spot, I soon became affixed to what Vampire Weekend were bringing to the stage. I've seen them a bunch in the past few years, but never had the chance to catch a whole set. I'm glad I finally did.
They have an effortless vibe to their shows, despite sounding like a crack band of professionals. For a bunch of guys who decided Columbia wasn't going to bring them the career they wanted, they certainly chose the right path when deciding to form a band. This set proved why they were No. 2 on the poster list. JIM BRICKER
Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
The acts I saw Saturday were heavy on turntables and mikes; so, it was not only a joy, but felt essential to catch Vampire Weekend playing old-fashioned instruments like drums and guitars. To borrow from the band, baby, baby, baby, baby they were right on time.
The play those instruments exceedingly well and use them to concoct catchy rock and roll songs. Few might consider what they do bombastic (save that for Jack White), but their set was fused with smart bombs like "Unbelievers," "Cousins," "Diane Young," "Horchata" and "Holiday." Perennial favorite "A-Punk" sent a shockwave out over all of us standing in the muddy, mucky, celebratory proximity of ground zero. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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