The Best Surprises of Free Press Summer Fest 2014
|Photo by Chris Gray|
Sunday, Neptune stage
A while back someone emailed me asking why we never cover New York City Queens, who have become a fairly popular Houston band in the years following their 2012 LP, Burn Out Like Roman Candles. Nothing against them, certainly -- for one reason or another, some bands just escape our radar. But if pressed, I'd say they always seemed a little mainstream for my tastes. (For the record, the Chronicle loves them.)
So I'm happy to report that although the Queens' songs sounded a little thin the couple of times I listened to Candles, they turned out to be a fine festival band that mixes energetic, Strokes-y garage-pop with chilled-out New Wave keyboards, and fast-paced tunes with more thoughtful songs ("Roman Candle") that make good use of their multiple vocalists. They also drew a pretty decent crowd to the Neptune stage before noon, and people were already smoking weed; never a bad sign. So hopefully this will bury that hatchet. CHRIS GRAY
Vampire Weekend's Small(ish) Crowd
Photo by Jim Bricker
Vampire Weekend played a stunning set featuring their best songs from all three of their albums, and their newest songs from Modern Vampires of the City were played with such finesse that I thought I might melt into the ground. Their show brought out the absolute best in me as a festival goer: I was having the most friendly and free-flowing conversations with fans around me, dancing, and singing. Jesus, we were all singing.
But despite being one of the clear headliners of 2014, they drew a crowd that was smaller than I expected. Certainly some of this was because the Mars stage was structured differently than last year, but I mostly think it was because Erza and the gang were posted up directly against Zedd and his Top 40 phenom "Clarity." I have not made it a secret that I don't like "Clarity," but I do like EDM. What I see here is that the situation was more of a commentary on the state of music festivals than of a reflection of musical quality.
What Zedd brings is a digestible form of today's mainstream music and Vampire Weekend, despite having a large and rabid and fan base, is still unique enough that not everyone was compelled to their stage. Overall this wasn't such a bad thing, because the people who were there for the set truly wanted to be. SELENA DIERINGER
I looked at the line up for the festival dozens of times since it was announced. I went over the schedule multiple times in the days leading up to it. Still, I somehow managed to overlook the fact that White Sea was playing until about 30 minutes or so before they took the stage. Sadly because I don't know how to read a schedule correctly I missed most of their set, but what I caught was pretty damn spectacular. Morgan Kibby (right) has an amazing voice and a really good stage presence. Definitely hoping to catch more of them next time they're around. CORY GARCIA
We lucked out. Straight up. Save for a spot of rain on Saturday afternoon that ended up being a whole lot better than it could've been, we were spared both severe heat or torrential storms throughout the entire weekend. It still got hot, at points real hot, but not "what is this hell that surrounds me" hot.
With so many trees and shady areas, whenever it did reach into the higher 80s, it was easy to get away from it. The only thing bad about the weather was the extreme humidity that caused everyone in the festival to have a nice layer of face-sweat from open to close. JIM BRICKER
A family friend tried to quash my enthusiasm following Ying Yang Twins' berserk set. She said they played a Texas State University function while she was in school there, so maybe I should tone down the rhetoric. But that's precisely why it was fantastic. It felt like a throwback to college days, filled with filled cups and the promise of casual promiscuity.
The crowd was 'bout it, especially during "Ms. New Booty" and, of course, "Get Low." When the familiar chorus morphed into a few bars of "Turn Down For What," it was like Ying Yang passing the party-anthem torch. It was also too much for one young, nubile girl ahead of us to resist the urge to booty-grind all up on my wife, who was standing right behind her. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
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