Summer Fest & More: The Best of The Week
Leon casino, Photo: Getty Images
Well, we’ve braved the wet weather & the heat to bring us to the week that so many people look forward to; the week when Free Press Summer Fest goes off. While we all know now that the festival changed locations from Eleanor Tinsley Park to NRG Park (Yellow Lot), I can attest that the team behind the festival is working nonstop to insure that you have just as much fun at the new location as you did at the old. This year artists like Skrillex pictured above will be getting the audience excited while we all try to navigate the festival grounds in the best way possible. However, there are other options this week for those of you who don’t plan on attending. Here’s how to cure your boredom this week.
Wednesday, you can kick off your week at MKT Bar, when Thomas Truver of the band Second Lovers drops a DJ set. Truver and the rest of his band have been working tirelessly to finish their upcoming album, as well as work on a killer set for this year’s Free Press Summer Fest. Last week FPH debuted a new song from the band here, and this nights are always fun and entertaining. He’ll also spin that track as well as hand out FREE Second Lovers merchandise. The all ages event gets going around 7:00 and is 100% FREE.
Or you can get down at Toyota Center, when Bachata singer Romeo Santos drops in to town. Santos is insanely popular, he’s known for an intense live show, and his latest album “Formula, Vol.2” is his most popular to date. There’s no word of an opener yet, but the doors are at 7:00 and tickets are between $49.50 and $150.00.
The Summit will have the funk rock of Houston’s energetic Handsomebeast. The five piece act is one that hearing the energy that emanates from their albums just means that they’re an act you should catch live sooner than later. Their latest, this year’s “Sexy Face Reaction Time” is an experimental jam that doesn’t seem to lose its speed from start to finish. They’ll have new band Phoebe feat. members of Moths, PopeNQM, and more on the bill with them, as well as the hip hop of San Diego’s Jon Black. The one man band of Chicago’s Room 101 will also be on the bill, as will Permanent Vegetative State. The post rock punk of St. Louis’ Staghorn opens the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and a $5.00 cover.
The Shop will be sending Houston hard core band, Dress Code off on tour in style. The band just released the “Perception” album, and they sound like a high energy live show from their old school punk sounds. The show will also have the punk of Houston’s Primal League on as direct support, as well as the hardcore of Paranoid Chant. Hardcore punks, The Pose will be there to open things up, while Fat Tony will prove how next level he is by spinning records between the sets. The all ages show has an $8.00 cover and things get going around 8:30.
Ministry Photo: Liam Cannon
Thursday you can feel like “Everyday Is Halloween,” when the industrial disco of Ministry stops off at Warehouse Live. Of course, you aren’t going to hear that song, but you will more than likely get gems like “Thieves,” “Psalm 69,” and “Burning Inside.” At one point, it felt like for the three albums, “Land Of Rape and Honey,” “The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste,” and “KE*A*H**(Psalm 69);” that Ministry was going to take over the world. However addictions, members coming and going, and two poorly received albums stopped all of that. Uncle Al (Jourgensen) had stated at one point that the band was ending, only to pull a Gene Simmons and keep things soldiering on. All of that aside, they still stand as one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live…though that was twenty years ago. Their latest studio album, “From Beer To Eternity” from 2013 is pretty good for a band that’s been around for over thirty years. Houston industrial rockers, The Hunger will be on hand as direct support. These guys were around when I was in high school, and their latest album, 2005’s “Finding Who We Are,” falls in line with their work from the past. The always impressive, DJ Damon Allen will open things up with a dance party. The all ages show has doors at 7:00 and tickets between $69.69 (get it?) and $75.00.
Over at Walter’s you can get your groove on when New Orleans’ instrumental hip hop producer AF The Naysayer comes in. AF dropped the amazing album last year, “The Autodidact Instrumentals Vol. 1” and he puts on an insanely great live show. The electronic hip hop of Metatron Sic-Hop will bring their “a game” from New Orleans. Last year they dropped the amazing release, “Velvet City” where they echoed a mix of JJ Doom and Q Tip. Houston’s PersephOne will bring her quick mic skills to the show, and should be dropping new jams from her upcoming project with Josiah Gabriel; who’ll be backing her up at the show. Nikkhoo will be there to release his sick mic rockin’ abilities to open the all ages show. The doors are at 8:00 and the cover is $7.00.
If you’re up for comedy, then you could head to Joke Joint Comedy Showcase to catch Austin comic John Ramsey. Ramsey has appeared all over the place including Comedy Central, Conan, and Nick at Night. He’s won accolades on a slew of comedy fests, and he’s known for a strong set of laughs. For some reason, a magician from Minnesota named David Harris will be the feature act. Side note, comedy & magic don’t mix. One of Houston’s better up and coming comics will serve as host on the show. There’s an 8:00 show on Thursday, two shows on Friday at 8:00 and 10:30, and two shows on Saturday also at 8:00 and 10:30. All of the shows are 18 & up with a $16.00. cover charge.
You can catch the only improv troupe in Houston with their own weekly show, when the Beta Max crew performs over at Beta Theater. Comprised of Antoine Culbreath, Hoja Lopez, and more; these shows are usually hilarious and entertaining for anyone who attends. Things are always BYOB and the doors are at 9:00.
On Friday things get started when MKT Bar hosts a launch party for La Nova ReThink! Tile. The tile collection is street art on a tile, and sounds really cool. They’ll also have DJ work from a handful of local artists on the all ages event. Things kick off around 6:00 and it’s 100% FREE.
If you like pop punk, then you could head to House of Blues to see the 21st anniversary of Wichita Falls’ Bowling For Soup. It’s hard to believe that these guys have been around over twenty years. If you’re having trouble remembering the band, they had the hit songs “1985” and “Stacy’s Mom.” I will say that they’re pretty entertaining live, and their latest album, a retrospective called “Songs People Actually Liked Vol. 1-The First Ten Years” reminds you of them more. Florida’s The Dollyrots will bring their pop punk to life as direct support. The female lead act dropped “Barefoot & Pregnant” last year, and they have a crazy amount of energy live. The alt rock of Dallas’ Ivory Tribes will open things up on the all ages show with doors at 7:00 and tickets for $20.00.
Warehouse Live will be hosting the hip hop of Atlanta’s O.T. Genasis. Though he originally was a part of 50 Cent’s G-Unit label, Genasis didn’t really take off career wise until he met Busta Rhymes. You probably know him from his hits “Touchdown,” and “CoCo.” His latest is this year’s “Ricky,” and he should make for an entertaining live show. He’ll have Houston’s own, Doughbeezy as direct support. Last year’s hit single, “I’m From Texas” just proved how great he is, and 2012’s full length “Blue Magic” still sounds as fresh as it did when it was dropped. DJ Mr. Rogers opens the all ages show with doors at 7:30 and tickets between $30.00 and $100.00.
Melt Banana Photo: Jeff Matarrese
At Fitzgerald’s, they’ll be bringing in the Japanese noise rock band, Melt Banana. Though they have been around for over twenty years, their 2013 album “Fetch” saw the band reach new heights in popularity. Their latest, a singles collection from this year called “Return of 13 Hedgehogs” reminds you of their sounds over the early 2000’s. San Diego three piece Hot Nerds will be on the bill as direct support. This band really reminds me over another noise rock band from the nineties, Brainiac. Their latest is the odd yet magnetic sounding album, “Strategically Placed Bananas” from earlier this year. Like Melt Banana, they’re known for a crazy live show. Houston’s P.L.X.T.X (pronounced Pluto) will open the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and cover for $15.00.
Rudyard’s will host a birthday party of sorts when they have the horror punk of Houston’s Brumes perform. Brumes makes the kind of melodic punk that’s not really the kind that’s pop punk, but it’s also not Misfits sounding either. Complete with female vocals, they’re a band I’d say check out sooner than later. The hardcore of Houston’s Dead To the World will also be there, and they’ll bring their crazy high energy as well. I caught these guys perform in front of 10 people once, and they did so like it was in front of ten thousand. Austin’s Black Irish Texas will be there to perform their Dropkick Murphys brand of music. They released the 2013 EP, “An Ode To Saint Cecilia” that really gives you a better idea of their mix of sounds. Jason Bancroft and the Wealthy Beggars will be there to bring their road weary travelling songs to life. Last year they put out the amazing album “This Machine,” that sounds like if Bob Dylan wrote an album and had Chuck Ragan perform the songs. The 21 & up show has doors at 9:00 and a measly $8.00 cover.
The Cajun fueled chaos known as Feufollet will be making people get down over at Continental Club. So, this five piece, that sounds like a ten piece, has been in the business since some of them were 11 years old. Known for an intense live show, they’ll be here in support of this year’s “Two Universes.” Though from the Southwest side of Louisiana, they make cajun folk meets Americana, and it’s definitely it’s own thing, but worth checking out. The 21 & up show has doors at 9:00 and a $12.00 cover.
Mastodon Photo: Courtesy of Motley Zoo
Saturday of course, is the first day of the 2015 Free Press Summer Fest. Without running through the slew of bands you could see, I’m just sticking to who I’d suggest that you see. First off, you should get there early to see as many locals as you can. By catching Deep Cuts at 11:30 on the Saturn stage, or seeing Second Lovers at noon on the Neptune stage, or even watching We Were Wolves at 12:20 on the Jupiter stage; you’re experiencing Houston’s finest. If those set times are too early for you, then you should at least catch local fave, Gio Chamba at 1:20 on the Mercury stage. Gio is like if Carlos Santana, Tom Ze, and Tito Puente dropped acid and procreated. He’s seriously one of Houston’s best performers, you’re foolish if you miss out on his set. On the Jupiter stage, Houston’s Catch Fever will bring their celebrated pop rock to life when they perform at 1:30. I just watched them at Wonky Power Live, and I have to admit that their tightness blew me away. You should definitely catch The Suffers on the Saturn stage at 2:10 if you’ve never seen them, as their live show is pretty damn impressive. Austin’s doom metal rockers, The Sword will be on the Neptune stage at 3:00, and as someone who’s seen them at least ten times, you should watch them go hard. I love all of their albums, though the concept album from 2010, “Warp Riders” is still my favorite. At 4:20 on the Mercury stage, Houston’s Dpat will drop some of his luscious slow jams. Part of the Soulection crew, nominated for a Grammy at 22, and one of the best producers you can see; his 2013 album “In Bloom” is music to make love to. At 4:40 on the Neptune stage you could catch the massively popular sounds of NYC producer RL Grime. Just check out his jam “Tell Me” and I’m sure you’ll wanna’ see what he’s all about. Setting this festival apart from every other fest, we have the Welcome To Houston show that will have tracks backed by The Suffers. I mean, Bun B, Scarface, Devin The Dude, Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Z-Ro, Lil Keke, Lil Flip and Mike Jones on one stage at 5:30 at Neptune? Sounds like a no brainer to me. Possibly the sleeper of the day, because I’m sure people won’t know; but Peaches is known to put on a crazy live show. You can find out “what’s in the teaches of Peaches” and more when she takes the Mercury stage at 5:40. On the Neptune stage, you can fall “Head Over Heels” for the iconic sounds of Tears For Fears. These two have received all of the awards, all of the accolades, and all the love before; but you should know that this is a huge “get” and worth checking out, as they should be amazing. If hip hop is more your game, then the gospel-rap of Lecrae will blow your mind over on the Mercury stage at 6:50. This guy’s 2014 album “Anomaly” debuted at number one, just proving again that the Houston rapper is one of our city’s best going. If you have a Fancy Pants band, I beg you to go catch a set from Tycho in the Fancy Pants performance tent at 7:00. This guy is intense, his live sets are legendary, and hearing him drop tunes from last year’s “Awake” in that close of a proximity is insanely cool. At 7:50 over on the Mars stage, you can get your mind blown by the hip hop of Chicago’s Chance The Rapper. Knowing how I’m all about Houston hip hop, I’ll say that this guy can bring it, and should be worth checking out. At 8:00 on the Saturn stage, one of the best performers you’ll see all day, St. Vincent will bring her craziness to life. I’m serious, even though I didn’t call her 2014 album “St. Vincent” “genius” like everyone else; she puts on a crazy live show, that I’ve seen twice and was impressed both times. Another sleeper on the festival, Charles Bradley And His Extraordinaires will hit the Venus stage with tons of soul and R&B. This guy is a legend, he brings that sweet Motown era soul to life, and his latest “Victim of Love” keeps the legend alive. At 9:00 on the Neptune stage, the heavy metal and high energy of Mastodon will take over the festival. If you haven’t seem them prior or you haven’t heard their latest, “Once More ‘Round The Sun,” you will be after watching these guys go hard when they perform from that album and more. Ending day one, you have a tough choice to make. On the Mars stage, R. Kelly will be performing his set, and will be blowing people away when he does. Kelly has been relevant for over 25 years, he throws a hell of a party when he performs, and his latest “Black Panties” from 2013 is pretty great. Of course, the house producer known for one of the best live shows going, Steve Angello will be also blowing people away when he performs on the Saturn stage, also at 9:50. His latest, a single from this year called “Payback” has already been called amazing from everyone, and is massively popular. The choice is yours, but either way; day one should be amazing.
If music festivals aren’t your deal, then you could venture over to Discovery Green for the Maravilloso Water Festival. The Saturday show features water dancing, a crazy light show, and a floral display that will dazzle the eyes. More information is here, and the all ages event gets going around 4:00 and it’s 100% FREE.
Warehouse Live will be hosting the country twang of Kansas’ Zach Emery Band. Emery is a Nashville recording artist who plays a soulful brand of country music. He mixes Americana, folk, and C&W with ease, and his album “Kansas Is My Home” proves all of that. He’ll be joined by Grant Harrison of Magnolia. Harrison plays an acoustic pop folk kind of sound, and he has a really nice ring to his music. His “In The Clouds” EP is worth checking out, as it echoes artists like David Gray and Jack Johnson. The all ages show in the studio has doors at 7:00 and is 100% FREE.
House of Creeps will host one of the Terraform parties. This edition will feature a bunch of sounds from the likes of Houston’s Layer, Houston’s Daed, Austin’s Detox Unit, Shuniya of Austin, and Houston’s Psillysubbin. There’s tons more happening outside the venue, and the entire night will be christened with visuals from FLCON FCKER. Things kick off around 7:00 and it’s a paltry $5.00 cover.
The Gypsy Kings will be bringing their insanely energetic live show to town over at Arena Theatre. So, I caught this French seven piece about ten years ago, and I was shocked at how diverse they were. You will know them from their hits like “Bamboleo,” “Volare,” and “Djobi Djoba.” Of course, they also do an amazing Spanish cover of the Eagles classic, “Hotel California.” They’ll be here in support of last year’s “Serana” that just proves that they’ve still got it. The intense sounds of Connor Kennedy will be there as direct support. Kennedy plays a pretty great blend of blues rock that’s all over his 2015 album, “Live In Utopia.” The show has doors at 7:00 and tickets between $35.00 and $79.50.
Major Lazer Photo: Oliver Minnett
Sunday, also known for many of you as day two of Free Press Summer Fest, you can make it back to NRG Park to see as many locals as possible. This kicks off with an almost two hour set from Hiram at 11:10 on the Mercury stage, or the Children of Pop/Josiah Gabriel collab Kult Dizney on the Neptune stage at 11:40, or maybe the soulful sounds of Moji at noon on the Mars stage. Any one of those three acts should get your day two started off right, if not all three. Over on the Saturn stage you can catch the Americana sounds of Houston’s Buxton at 12:10. So, these guys just dropped the straight forward and more rockin’ sounding album, “Half A Native,” and you’re silly if you don’t catch them live…cause’ they’re awesome, and that album is equally as amazing. I’d strongly suggest following that up with the 12:50 performance from Houston’s Guilla on the Venus stage. Guilla dropped “Rap, Trap, and Drums” last year, he’s collaborating with everyone, and he’s a true force to see live while he proves that the Houston hip hop game is changing for the better. At 1:10 on the Mercury stage, you should watch the mesmerizing sounds of Houston’s George West. This guy drops deep jams and plays live drums all over his recently dropped “George West” album in a way that you should see before he blows up after his upcoming South American tour. The Tontons will take the Saturn stage at 1:30, and prove why they keep getting heat from everywhere. Check out the track “Pony” from their latest album “Make Out King and Other Stories Of Love,” to fall in love with them sooner than later. Follow that with the highly energetic sounds of San Diego’s Rocket From The Crypt on the Neptune stage at 2:10. RFTC was always the best live band in the nineties, and after watching them at FUN FUN FUN last year, they could regain that title back. Listen to 2002’s “Live From Camp X-Ray,” or 2001’s “Group Sounds” to get an idea of what you’ll be seeing. They just dropped an album with Sonny Vincent called “Vintage Piss” as well, and they’re seriously not to be missed. The electro folk pop of Grizfolk will be on the Venus stage at 2:30, and their album “From The Spark” might make you want to catch their set. The sleeper on Sunday, is the six piece garage rock sounds of Tennessee’s Diarrhea Planet, who play the Jupiter stage at 3:20. How could you not love a band with four guitarists? Their 2013 album “I’m Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams,” alongside me telling you they’re really great live should be enough for you to see their set. You’ll have to decide if the folky and often rock fueled sounds of The Mountain Goats on the Jupiter stage at 5:00, or the crazy U.K. garage meets deep house sounds of Australia’s Flume on the Mars stage also at 5:00 is where you’ll be at. The dance music of Miami’s GTA will be dropping ass shaking sounds at 5:30 on the Mercury stage, and their “DTG Vol.1” album should convince you on seeing them. Following them, Oakland’s massively popular rapper, G-Eazy will go on at 6:40 also on the Mercury stage. Listen to his insane album, “These Things Happen” from last year, and you should hear why he’s so popular. Of course, I’m guessing most of you will be over at the Mars stage to see Diplo rock it with Major Lazer at 6:50. I shouldn’t have to oversell this act, but I will say that I’ve seen them kill on several occasions. at 7:40 on the Neptune stage, Scottish band Belle and Sebastian will be there to wow you with their swooning sounds. This year’s “Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance,” just proved that this band is just as strong and inventive as they were when they started off long ago. Do yourself a favor and watch a set from Tycho over on the Mercury stage at 7:50, as he’s known to go off and go hard. Closing the evening, Skrillex will do his thing over on the Mars stage at 8:40. Again, I shouldn’t have to really sell this guy as he’s known for his intense live show. Or, you could catch the rock of Weezer, who again, I shouldn’t have to really sell to you happening at 8:50 on the Saturn stage.
If again, you decided not to attend the festival, then you could head to MKT Bar to watch local funny man Barry Laminack host the Beta Theater comedy show. This will be the live taping that features plenty of local comics getting started at 7:00 and is 100% FREE.
Warehouse Live will have the hip hop of California’s Kyle over in the studio. The massive popularity behind his 2013 album “Beautiful Loser” shows why he’s dropped a slew of singles this year. there doesn’t appear to be an opener yet on the all ages show with doors at 8:00 and tickets between $15.00 and $20.00.
If you’d rather get your punk on, then you could catch Institute over at Black Barbie. The Austin four piece is seriously good with their kind of eighties throwback sound. Like if Joy Division and Minutemen had a baby, if that helps. Their “Salt” EP from last year is something you should check out before going to see them. Houston’s Back To Back will be there to loudly drop tunes from their upcoming album. If you’ve never seen these guys, you’ve been missing one of the better punk acts in town. Their 2014 EP, “Narcissist” is something every Houstonian should have a copy of, cause it’s pretty damn intense. The anarcho punk of Houston’s GAST will be there as well. Things will get started off by the noisy tunes of Maramuresh. The show is all ages, the doors are at 9:00, and the cover is $8.00.
Denzel Curry Photo: Justin Staple
Monday, the South Florida hip hop of Denzel Curry will be in the studio at Warehouse Live. Curry has been getting praise since he dropped “Nostalgic 64” in 2013. He’s supposed to be pretty great live and he should make for an entertaining evening. There’s no opener listed yet, but that should change sooner than later. The all ages show has doors at 8:00 and tickets between $18.00 and $20.00.
Tuesday you can head to Warehouse Live for the always popular show, The Moth. This edition is all about something that backfired. So plan your five minute story about something that went awry, and get there early as it tends to sell out quick. The doors are at 6:30, and the all ages event has a cover between $8.00 and $16.00.
Walter’s will be bringing the iconic punk of Sloppy Seconds. So, this four piece has been around for over thirty years, and they’re really great live. Their latest album, “Endless Bummer” from 2008 just proves that a band can be seriously inspired by Ramones and still sound good. The punk rock of Houston’s Donkey Punch will be there as direct support. Sleaze punk four piece, Dogz on Parole also of Houston will be there, as well as Houston’s Charger Fits who’ll be opening things up. The all ages show has doors at 8:00 and tickets for a paltry $10.00.
That’s about it for this week. There’s more than enough happening around town, but whatever you decide, please do it in the most responsible way possible. If you’re attending the festival, please stay hydrated at any one of the FREE water stations on the festival grounds. Where sunscreen because of the obvious, and remember that this event is all about having fun so act like an adult and use the golden rule.