The Six Best Stages at Free Press Summer Fest

Photos by Chris Gray
The Neptune stage (center left) during the "Welcome to Houston" all-star rap set
Even for a music festival that is already not quite like any other, one of the most unique aspects of Free Press Summer Fest is its ever-shifting footprint. From one year to the next, very little about the two-day bash -- including the admission gates, vendor booths, music stages and the row of portapotties that can get pretty ripe when the sun starts going down -- is ever in the same place twice. This year especially, the ongoing renovations to Buffalo Bayou and Eleanor Tinsley Park have dramatically shifted the geographic center eastward back toward downtown, allowing it to envelop Sam Houston Park for the first time.

So coming to FPSF each year is a little bit of a guessing game, something that definitely adds to the festival's charm. Especially in the past couple of years, the event's producers have found some downright ingenious locations to stash the stages, but their precise charms are not always communicated by the somewhat spartan (though not inaccurate) map available on the FPSF Web site and mobile app. So after spending most of Saturday at the festival, Rocks Off thought we'd chip in with what we hope is a clearer picture of each stage's personality based on a few completely subjective but, we hope, logical aesthetic judgements. As always, we're here to help.

The Orwells on the Venus Stage

Location: Shoulder of Allen Parkway eastbound lanes, beneath first pedestrian bridge west of I-45
Size: minuscule; indistinguishable from nearby beer and food tents
Sound Quality: Mighty-mite
Scenic Value: 6 (bridge and oak trees make a pleasant backdrop, but audience sits in a major pedestrian artery)
Shade/Rain Cover Factor: .5
Sunday's Acts (chronologial order): The Dead Links; Born Liars; Venomous Maximus; William Fitzsimmons; Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors; Shakey Graves

Jana Hunter on the Jupiter stage

Location: Shoulder of eastbound Allen Parkway, immediately east of the I-45 overpass
Size: Teeny-tiny
Sound Quality: Robust
Scenic Value: 6-7
Shade/Rain Cover Factor: 5 (counting overpass)
Sunday's Acts: Gracie Chavez; Another Run; Los Skarnales; White Sea; Flatbush Zombies; Robert DeLong


Location: Down the "hill," at a 90-degree angle (facing downtown) where the FSPF main stage has been in the past
Size: As big as they get
Sound Quality: War-like
Scenic Value: 7 (ringed by trees and open sky)
Shade/Rain Cover Factor: 2
Sunday's Acts: Wrestlers (formerly Bagheera); the Oh Hellos; the Naked and Famous; Ms. Lauryn Hill; Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros; Jack White

FLOSStradamus on the Saturn stage

Location: Sam Houston Park
Size: Significant
Sound Quality: Beefy
Scenic Value: 8 (heavily wooded, including a few ancient oaks)
Shade/Rain Cover Factor: 4 (further back)
Sunday's Acts: Pleasure 2; Grand Old Grizzly; J. Roddy Walston & the Business; Drive-By Truckers; the Kills; Die Antwoord; Above & Beyond

List continues on the next page.

Location Info


Eleanor Tinsley Park

500 Allen Parkway, Houston, TX

Category: General

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