Acts We'd Love to See Play Free Press Summer Fest 2015

Photo by Jim Bricker
Before that carton of leftover FSPF 2014 milk in the fridge starts to smell a little ripe, we had to ask...who should the festival bring in next year?

This one's pretty self-explanatory. He fits the general aesthetic of the festival, and would be the perfect-sized headliner. That, and his unmatched catalog would make for the perfect quirky evening of tunes. JIM BRICKER

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The Best Surprises of Free Press Summer Fest 2014

Photos by Groovehouse
Sunday, Jupiter stage

I could hear Another Run from outside the festival, and I followed their sound all the way from the gates to the stage, where I stood impressed for the remainder of their show. You guys who know about them know how good they are, but somehow they've flown completely under my radar. One of the good things about festivals is that you get a bunch of chances to find a new band to fall for in between seeing the bands you already love. Those are the best surprises. CORY GARCIA

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25 People Having More Fun Than Us at FPSF

Photo by Jim Bricker
When you're pushing 40 at a festival like Free Press Summer Fest, you often find yourself thinking things like, "What in the hell is going on?" and "Is there somewhere I can go take a nap?" Rocks Off would like to doff our slightly mud-spattered cap to the following people our photographers captured this weekend, and hope some of them will tell us where we can get some of whatever they must be on.

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The Best Things We Overheard at Free Press Summer Fest

Photo by Jim Bricker
"Already attacked by the Cracker Jack'd"

"I got laid last night, it was a good night"

-- Mariachi El Bronx

"Crazy people watching, man..."


-- like it was their first time

"I think we're spending more time pretending we're watching shows that actually watching shows"

-- some bro to his bro-ette girlfriend

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The Biggest WTF Moments of Free Press Summer Fest 2014

Photo by Groovehouse
Holding a Festival in a Park then Getting Mad When People Climb Trees
Being a security guard is largely a thankless job, and while I get there are things like liability and whatnot, can you really blame people for climbing trees to get the best look they can? You're holding a festival in a park: what did you think would happen? Let the people climb: trees are nature's Silk Pajamas Premium Viewing Areas. CORY GARCIA

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The Worst Music of Free Press Summer Fest 2014

Photo by Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Saturday, Mars stage

Maybe it was the heat; maybe I'm just getting old. Or maybe Childish Gambino just isn't really all that good. The man clearly has a passion for performing, and more style than he knows what to do with. What he doesn't seem to have are great songs. All of the other hip-hop acts at FPSF brought great songs to the table -- not just hits, but songs.  Gambino has huge beats, stage presence and a Michael Jackson impersonation in his back pocket, but that's not going to be enough to buy him a second look from me. I want a hook. NATHAN SMITH

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The Best Music of Free Press Summer Fest 2014

Photo by Marco Torres
Sunday, Saturn Stage

No group in electronic music knows how to play to a listener's emotional core than Above & Beyond. It was almost jarring how beautiful their set sounded after two days of heat and rain and evacuations and mud and lack of sleep and the other crazy things one deals with at a music festival.

Still, there's no group of producers that I'd trust my ears to more than these guys. Walking to the car listening to their sounds bouncing off the buildings of downtown was pretty sweet too. CORY GARCIA

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What FPSF Looked Like to the Festival's Vendors

Photos by Selena Dieringer
Alex during his shift at a FSPF bar tent
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work at FPSF? Those of us who have ever willingly worked or volunteered for a festival know that the experience is largely contingent upon interaction with the public. This past Saturday, Rocks Off asked four delightful characters to tell us a little bit about their own experiences this year.

Great news, Houston: apparently, we as a group are an extremely nice bunch. Not so shocking: drunk people are obnoxious.

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How We Spent the FPSF Evacuation

Photo by Cory Garcia
Saturday will no doubt go down as one of the most interesting days in Free Press Summer Fest's still-young history. Shortly before 2 p.m., festival officials suspended performances and urged everyone to evacuate Eleanor Tinsley Park, citing "impending weather conditions."

At first fans seemed to react with indifference or disbelief until park security began sweeping the premises, ordering everyone to head towards the exits. Not everyone did -- the underpasses beneath I-45, this year still inside the FPSF perimeter, became an instantly popular refuge -- but enough did that within a half-hour or so the park looked all but deserted. According to various reports and tweets, people also sought shelter in parking garages, porches, hotels, nearby businesses like the Refinery on West Dallas, and even as far away as the George R. Brown Convention Center.

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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.

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