Pop A Top: What’s Happening at Houston Beer Fest
Leon casino, Photo: Houston Beer Festival
So, my legs are still a little shaky from all the good I saw at FPSF this year, but there’s another festival happening this weekend. Of course, I’m talking about the Houston Beer Fest on June 7th and 8th. This year, the music lineup is almost as crazy as the craft beer options. Here’s who you should check out while you get your brew on.
So, it should be noted this year, that the festival organizers have taken steps to insure that you will have plenty of beer options. There are three hundred plus brews this year, and it should go without saying that you should definitely pace yourself. 8th Wonder will be on hand with some of their tasty offerings, alongside Alamo, Fort Bend Brewing, Karbach, Live Oak, Mendocino, Saint Arnold’s, Real Ale, and Southern Star; just to name a few. There will also be import beer from Sapporo to Guinness,with mainstays Pabst, Shiner, and Anheuser Busch. There are many more, but that should let you know how serious they are about making sure you have plenty of options. Of course, for me, the music is what peaked my interest. If Free Press Summer Fest is a music festival with plenty of beer, Houston Beer Fest is a beer festival with a pretty good lineup of touring and local music. This year, the festival has four separate stages stocked with plenty of offerings for any fan of music. Without mentioning every act on the two days, it’s better to just list the highlights from each day.
On Saturday, you’re best to start your day off at 12:15 on the Bud Light stage with the hip hop of Houston’s up and coming RE’AL. His release, “The Winners” is track for track, one of the most lyrical assaults I’ve heard in a long time. RE’AL has the ability to keep the beats simple, while he just peppers his tracks with a quick flow of rhymes. He’s definitely on his way up in the Houston hip hop scene, and his live presence is definitely worth seeing live.
At 1:00 on the Karbach stage, you can get down to the pop ambient sounds of Houston’s King Finn. It’s weird to say this, but these guys will almost immediately start to remind you of Coldplay, minus the over indulgence. There’s a pretty pop based and infectious sound to their music that’s only brought to life by an energetic live show. Don’t be surprised if singer Chris Gallego doesn’t blow you away with his immense vocal range.
Like with every music event, you have to make decisions, and the Saturday at HBF is no different. At 1:45 you can saunter over to the Leinenkugel stage for one of Houston’s most eclectic acts, Shotgun Funeral. These guys look and sound like a band of gypsies that all found each other while in different groups. It’s rare for me to recommend such a bizarre mix of polka, jazz, funk, and folk; but these guys are seriously one of Houston’s best kept secrets. With a mix of accordion, stand up bass, violin, mandolin, and Stephen Galena’s powerful vocals; these guys sound like a Greek version of The Sun Ra Arkestra. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you miss them, as they haven’t been playing out as much lately.
Of course, if eclectic isn’t your thing, you could venture over also at 1:45 to the Bud Light stage for another great band, Houston’s Second Lovers. Second Lovers seriously blow me away with their mix of americana meets country folk. There’s something so honest, so earnest, and just plain amazing to how these guys approach songwriting. In the past year, it seems like I’ve seen a good chunk of americana acts “phone in” their sound, but Second Lovers really bring their A game when they play. Their “New Mexico” ep is something that everyone should check out, and then witness in a live setting. You don’t really get a chance to see them perform around town much, so this is a great way to become a fan of their sound.
Anyone who’s driven from Austin and San Antonio knows about that little speed trap city known as Schertz. Over at the Pabst Blue Ribbon stage at 2:30, you can catch Swimming With Bears, who hail from that little town. With a sound that’s basically Band of Horses lite, this four piece should really be a great way to get ramped up for the rest of the day. From what they sound like, they should have that nice mix of shoegaze meets high energy that always comes off great live.
At 3:15 on the Bud Light stage, you might want to catch some serious high octane rock n’ roll with Houston’s We Were Wolves. I can’t say enough great things about these guys that I didn’t say when I reviewed their latest album, “Wolf House” last year. High energy, full throttled rock that’s only made better by the fact that these guys come to party at every one of their intense performances. If you like Queens Of The Stone Age, Thin Lizzy, or even The Sword, then this is the not to be missed performance of the day. It’s a good thing that this is a 21 and up event, because these guys might shake the festival grounds with the power of distorted guitars, rumbling bass, and thunderous drums.
I’m a little excited to see the pop rock sounds of DC’s US Royalty. They’re one of the acts on the festival that I haven’t seen live yet, but they sound like they will bring a good mix to the fest. Mixing pop hooks atop hand claps and a groovy beat, I think these guys should be fun and entertaining as well. I hear they have a pretty energetic show, that when you mix it with the sound of their latest release, “Blue Sunshine,” should make for a fun time. They play at 4:00 over on the Pabst Blue Ribbon stage.
I have to admit that I came into knowing who Roosh Williams is kind of late. If you don’t know, Roosh might be the next big thing to come out of the Houston hip hop landscape. His 2013 album, “Deja Roo: Times Have Changed” was one of the better albums to come out of our city last year. With guest spots from Scarface, Doughbeezy, and Bubba Sparxxx, you should definitely see Roosh live. He hits the Karbach stage at 4:15, and he should blow most of the festival away with his hot beats and lyrical flow.
I’m not the biggest Action Bronson fan, but his song “Strictly For My Jeeps” is pretty damn hard to forget. Known for his antics as much as his rhymes, Bronson will definitely bring his New York attitude to the stage when he performs on the Bud Light stage at 4:45. If he’s still performing like when I saw him last year, don’t be shocked by all of the weed you’ll either see or get dropped on you.
At 6:30 on the Bud Light stage, you will definitely like the sounds of Austin’s Black Pistol Fire. The recently transplanted Canadians can seriously ignite the stage with their blue collar rock and blues sound. These guys sound like a mix of The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, and Creedence; and as a guy who’s seen them live; they put on a really great show. With the energy and intensity of their performance, you’ll quickly forget that they’re a two piece.
Your best bet on closing out day one, is catching the intensity that is Juicy J. I caught the man recently and I was pretty impressed with the energy he brought while playing no less than ten songs that I didn’t know were his. You’re going to want to get close for his 7:30 performance on the Pabst Blue Ribbon stage trust me. You’ll definitely be singing his rhymes five days after you see him.
On Sunday, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you didn’t get to the festival grounds early to catch Houston’s BLSHS. I can’t say anything better than I did when I reviewed their album, “Abstract Desires” earlier this year. Easily one of Houston’s biggest up and comers, BLSHS was on the tip of the tongues of every local media outlet prior to last weekend at FPSF, and they were all I heard about from everyone who saw them play. Performing on the Karbach stage at noon, you’ll be pretty impressed with the energy these guys have in the Houston heat. When you mix in the intense vocal range of singer Michelle Miears and the synth beats and lush notes from bandmates Chris Gore and Rick Carruth; you get what might be the next big thing out of Houston.
Speaking of up and coming bands, over at the Bud Light stage at 1:30, you can see another of Houston’s best when Catch Fever plays. These guys somehow figured out how to do everything right when they recorded their debut album, “Shiny Eyes,” as I said when I reviewed it. Catch Fever has the right look, the perfect mix of catchy hooks, and even the live presence to pull their pop rock debut off properly. You should see them because they’re pretty great in person and because you’ll hum their songs all day; or at least so you can say you saw them before they got huge.
Another Houston band on the rise, The Beans, will be bringing their blues injected rock to the Leinenkugel stage at 2:45. There aren’t too many times where you can say you saw a band who makes your soul shake, but The Beans can easily do that to anyone who witnesses them live. You know how John Mayer has been trying to convince you that he’s a legit blues artist? Well all you have to do is see The Beans, and you won’t need them to attempt to convince you of anything. The mix of soulful vocals, Clapton sounding guitar runs, and a rumbling bottom end makes these guys one of your best bets at the festival.
I don’t really know what to expect of what’s left of The Texas Tornados. The original group was pretty amazing, and this will have one of Sir Doug’s sons on board; so it could be pretty amazing. Their posthumous, if that’s what you can call it, release, “Esta Bueno” was much better than I thought it’d be. Augie and Flaco will be there, so it should make for an interesting act to catch when they hit the Bud light stage at 4:15.
You should follow that up with a trip over to the Leinenkugel stage at 4:15 for Houston’s energetic and chaotic Another Run. Anyone who saw them tear up the stage at FPSF can attest to their energy level. The mix of bassist Bob Lane’s onstage antics coupled with Adrian’s vocals, make them one of the acts you should definitely watch. At the worst, you’ll be entertained; but you’ll more than likely find a new favorite band when you catch their set.
Of course, no one would blame you for going to see Houston’s Featherface on the Karbach stage at 5:15. These guys have a pretty intense live show that their album doesn’t really showcase. That being said, I promise you’re in for an energetic performance from some guys who will more than likely be draped in flannel shirts, even in the Houston heat. There’s shoegaze, indie pop, and good ol’ bluesy notes from these guys that everyone in Houston should see at least once.
Every year, it seems, that a two piece emerges out of left field. One of those two piece acts you may not have heard of, is LA’s Deap Vally. It’s a shame how sometimes good stuff gets lost in the mix, and these two women are good stuff. Imagine The White Stripes if Jack were female and Meg was a better drummer. At 6:30 they’ll bring their blues based distorted rock to the Pabst Blue Ribbon stage. Oh, and don’t freak out, but their singer has a pretty deep set of pipes as well. their 2013 release, “Sistrionix” was one of the better albums of the year. Do yourself a favor and make sure to catch them for sure.
Staying over at the Pabst Blue Ribbon stage to catch Colorado’s 3Oh!3 sounds like a great way to follow up Deap Vally. The electro synth duo will hit the stage at 8:00, and they should bring a pretty hefty EDM mix to the evening, complete with a crazy light show. They won’t have Katy Perry or Kei$ha in tow, but that shouldn’t discourage you from getting down to their dancey sounds and trippy beats.
We all know why you want to go to Houston Beer Fest, so you can finish your festival experience with the hip hop sounds of Rick Ross. Over at the Bud Light stage at 9:00, Ross will bring down the fest as only he can. His new album, “Mastermind” is more than enough reason to make it out. He should and more than likely will, blow us all away with his over the top live set; and he’s the perfect end to the festival.
These times could change, as they are tentatively scheduled. If you plan on attending, please use your best judgement, be mindful of the heat, and plan on a car service to get you to and from the festival grounds. This is a pretty good lineup for a beer festival that also hosts flip cup and beer pong tournaments. This is all about having fun so be responsible, drink like an adult, and be kind so everyone can have a great time. If you’re a model Houstonian, Beer Fest should be a great weekend for all in attendance.