Coverage by: Madeline Robicheaux and BreeAngela Hamilton
British band The Heavy took a break from their 2016 tour to stop by FPSF. The band played an early afternoon set on the Saturn Stage where fans vibed along to their indie rock sounds. The Heavy played songs from their latest album Hurt and The Merciless, as well as classics like 2009’s wildly popular “How You Like Me Now?” The band’s music drew in a wide array of people, some of whom–like me–were just wandering the site and stumbled onto a great performance.
The Swedish hardrock band gave it their all for this year’s FPSF. Playing most of their set during a heavy rainstorm, this gave the band high energy to jump around the stage and into the crowd. Most of the crowd was shocked to see these guys give such a great performance after so many years and with the unfortunate weather conditions. The lead singer, Dennis Lyxzén, gave a politically charged performance with shouts of rage such as, “We are a communist, anarchist, and atheist band here,” and, “It is time to end this patriarchal system and start loving women!”
The Saturn Stage had started getting packed around the early afternoon as dedicated fans patiently waited for Modest Mouse. Since they don’t perform very often, this was going to be considered, for most ,as a once-in-a-lifetime event. With timeless songs like “Dashboard,” “Float On,” and “Dramamine,” fans of all ages gathered shoulder to shoulder to embrace the closing performance that a fan described as, “a magical, religious experience.”
Walker Lukens & The Side Arms
Starting the official first day of Free Press Summer Fest, Walker Lukens & The Side Arms had some big shoes to fill, and the Austin native band did just that.It was fun to see friends and family of the band members showing their support to a much talented ensemble. They set the vibe just right as festival goers were anxious about the possible weather conditions. To sooth the crowd, Walker Lukens played crowd pleasing and upbeat tunes such as “Every Night” and “Lifted,” which drew in a surprisingly large morning crowd.
The crowd setting of stereotypical “high school,Coachella wannabes” was nowhere to be seen as The Coathangers took the stage. Hardcore punk fans made their way to the front of the Neptune Stage as the Atlanta, Georgia based band prepared for their sound check. Since these gals have created a buzz this past year as an opening act for Refused, the likes of their indie alternative rock music was the perfect addition to the FPSF lineup. Dressed in all black “Nosebleed Weekend” t-shirts, the trio gave an energetic and memorable performance with tunes such as “Nosebleed Weekend” and “Make It Right.”
Eugene Hutz, the lead singer of Gogol Bordello, gave a fun and energetic performance alongside his gypsy punk rock band. The band’s set included brightly colored outfits, screaming backup dancers, and a human slingshot that threw flowers into the audience…if you were there, you know it was probably the most memorable and out there performances.
Cool, calm, and collected artist, David Ramirez started the Mars Stage lineup on a peaceful note. Granted, most of the crowd were dedicated fans of Collegrove and Zeds Dead, however the Texan native was able to keep the energies mellow and consistent with popular tunes, such as “Bad Days” and “Harder to Lie.” His fifty minute set was the perfect addition for the early afternoon festival vibes, which was much needed after the hectic weekend weather situations.
Lewis Del Mar
Newcomer Lewis Del Mar was a hot topic for this year’s FPSF. The band, whom none of them are named Lewis Del Mar, had their very first festival experience here in Houston. After only emerging to the music scene last summer, Lewis Del Mar performed like old pros of the festival setting. They had the crowd dazzled with tunes from their latest EP, “EP,” and was, in our opinion, the best show for upcoming artists. Be sure to check them out at this year’s ACL!
The area around the Mars Stage was packed and filled with energy hours before Zeds Dead took the stage. Fans were lined up against the barricades and pushing their way towards the center to get the best view possible. The crowd cheered and threw their Zs up as soon as the artist’s logo appeared on screen. The group’s hour-long DJ set included high energy EDM remixes of well-known pop and hip-hop songs–even including other FPSF artists like A$AP Ferg. Despite the rain and muddy ground, the crowd grew more excited with every beat drop and danced their way to a good time.
Logic’s show at FPSF was as much about the visuals as it was about his rhymes. After a 30 second countdown, DJ Rhetorik played “Contact,” the intro to Logic’s space-themed sophomore album The Incredible True Story. The song was accompanied by images of outer space and a number of earthly wonders projected onto the Mars Stage’s three screens. Shortly after, Logic walked out and gave an energetic performance of “Fade Away.” The Maryland emcee performed several other songs from the album including “Upgrade,” “Stainless” and “I Am The Greatest” as a tribute to Muhammad Ali. He also surprised hardcore fans by performing tracks from his first album as well as a few songs from his mixtapes. Throughout the show, Logic spoke to the crowd–spreading his message of peace, love and positivity.
A little hesitation was expected for THE Zola Jesus to perform on the Mercury Stage, one of the smaller venues at FPSF. However, after seeing the excited crowd near the back of the NRG Park, the crowd knew we were going to be treated with a more intimate showcase. The sun was setting and concert go-ers were anxiously awaiting Zola’s intense performance. She graced the stage in an all red frock and signature pitch black hair covering her face. Her set started and finished with pulsating dance moves and deep vocals that had put a silence to the crowd.
The Houston air was hot and sticky by the time local rapper BeatKing hit FPSF’s Mercury Stage. For an hour the self-proclaimed “Club God” turned a section of NRG’s Yellow Lot into a twerk fest. He performed radio singles and fan favorites like “Throw Dat Ahh” and “Crush,” bringing out collaborators DJ Chose and Just Brittany to surprise the crowd. BeatKing also played some of his popular club anthems and social media commentary tracks. Though it started raining about halfway through his set, that didn’t stop fans from enjoying the performance.
The Latin rock band known as Chicano Batman made quite an impression at this year’s FPSF. Drawing a larger crowd to one of the smaller stages caused the festival morale to go sky high. Playing their bigger show-stopper tunes made fans dance till their hearts content as the sun set on FPSF’s first day.
Alternative hip-hop band Oxymorrons made a stop at FPSF before hitting three other Texas cities on their tour. The New Yorkers played the Venus Stage around noon to an initially small crowd that steadily grew as the sound of their music made its way across the park. The four member group, including a drummer and guitarist, performed singles “Hello Me” and “I Feel Better.” They also put their spin on several popular tracks from other hip-hop artists. After their set, I caught them walking about the festival greeting fans and enjoying their first time in Houston.
The Austine, Texas natives hit the Venus Stage with a gorgeous sunset as their backdrop on Saturday. Perfect summer vibes were all around as White Denim gave a perfect soundtrack set to festival goers enjoying the secluded area of FPSF. The crowd patiently waited as they had what seemed like a lengthy soundcheck, but it was well worth the time. After releasing a new album back in March, titled Stiff, dedicated fans anticipated hearing new music after three years, and needless to say, very few were disappointed. Highlights from their set included impressive guitar licks, hypnotic vocals, and catchy lyrics from songs such as “Real Deal Momma” and “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah).”
Stay tuned for our recap of Day 2!
By Madeline Robicheaux