Another fun festival is just a short drive away in Houston...
Celebrating its seventh year in existence, Free Press Summer Fest will commence this June 4 and 5 in what is arguably the financial capital of the South. Situated in the environs of NRG Stadium (home of the NFL's Houston Texans), "Free Press" as it is lovingly called by locals is traditionally sandwiched between perennial, annual extravaganzas in music cities like New Orleans (JazzFest, VoodooFest) and Austin (South by Southwest Music and Media Conference and Festival, Austin City Limits, Psychfest). Despite a very commercial presence (past festivals have had over 92,000 attendees) and essentially both national and international acts since its inception (R. Kelly, Weezer, Cat Power, Tears for Fears, Arctic Monkeys, The Flaming Lips), this two-day fest is transitioning from what began as an H-Town music festival into one that is more regional befitting of America’s fourth largest city.
While lacking the sheer volume of Austin's “South-by” (1000 musical acts this year alone) or the history of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (which recently celebrated its 46th anniversary), the FPSF nevertheless hopes to capitalize on a “niche” status which includes unique programming. Newsworthy among the headliners this year:
*deadmau5 (nom de plume of Toronto progressive house/downtempo producer Joel Thomas Zimmerman performing in one of only 4 North American dates). With over nine million fans on his Facebook page alone, this EDM pioneer known for name-checking music industry “sellouts” should keep things moving.
*New Orleans’ own Lil’ Wayne (The Carter fame) will be performing with 2 Chainz (who performed here in 2013 and is basking in the success of his latest album B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time). The two will form a collective ensemble known as "Collegrove", which is a commingling of "College Park, Georgia", where 2 Chainz is from, and the Hollygrove section of New Orleans where Lil’ Wayne grew up.
*The Violent Femmes (these young Baby Boomer/Gen X faves are coming off their second hiatus after their wildly popular fame in the 1980s). The only real question for their "Bayou City" tour is whether their brass section “Horns of Dilemma” will accompanying the band.
*The National, megastars of record label Beggars Banquet/4AD (which should speak volumes since this label is traditionally known for signing European acts such as Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Gary Numan, the Charlatans UK, etc.). Involved in President Obama’s election and re-election, this rock quintet from Cincinnati, Ohio, should offer a healthy antidote to what promises to be an interesting summer of politics (In the ironic Chinese sense of “May you live in interesting times.”)
In all, a good time should be had by all who attend this festival which is the brainchild of Houston magazine Free Press Houston and local, independent concert promotion company “Pegstar”.