This weekend marks the sixth year of Free Press Summer Festival (FPSF) at Houston's Eleanor Tinsley Park. We picked ten acts you should see at the two-day (plus opening night party) festival that boasts headliners, Wu-Tang Clan and Jack White. The rest of the lineup is equally appealing. The Deftones, The Kills, Washed Out and Houston's own The Tontons all made our list.
The budding FPSF is similar to Austin's Fun Fun Fun Festival in booking non-traditional festival roster acts that have wide appeal. A hallmark for each is the ability to book rare acts on the festival curcuit. Both festivals admirably work to reflect the local culture. In the case of FPSF the focus is on the incredibly prolific visual arts and hip-hop scenes Houston is known for in addition to great national acts. The festival is also practical offering a variety of sponsor and VIP air-conditioned tents to weather the often stifling humid conditions.
FPSF takes place Saturday and Sunday May 31-June 1. The full lineup of bands can be viewed on the festival website. Fans can log-in and create a custom schedule that will sync with the official FPSF app. Tickets are still available via the online ticket site.
Pro tip: Verizon Wireless is offering access to their main stage hospitality area to select fans who hashtag their instagram and Twitter posts about the festival with #MoreFPSF. Follow @VerizonInsider on Twitter and get more details on the Verizon Wireless Insider page.
Enough rambling for now. Check out our band recommendations (in no particular order) with set times and location at Free Press Summer Fest below.
Jack White - Mars Stage Sunday at 8:40 p.m.
This might be our most anticipated set simply because Jack White has selected Houston as his only stop near Austin on his current tour supporting his new solo record, "Lazaretto" which drops June 10. White has been teasing fans by releasing a few singles early before the album is released. So far, we like what we hear and look forward to a set that leans heavy on new material and hopefully a few White Stripes gems. Jack if you are reading we would like to hear "Ball and A Biscuit" and "St. James Infirmary" please.
Watch the video for "High Ball Stepper" the first single from "Lazaretto" and order the album directly from Third Man Records.
Wu-Tang Clan - Neptune Stage, Sunday 7:40 p.m.
Last time we saw Wu-Tang Clan (at SXSW 2011) we were sorely disappointed. The sound at Austin Music Hall was terrible. Several members of the group were not present and those that did show up just sounded like they would rather be at home smoking blunts and playing XBOX games.
Basically we are looking for a reason to like this legendary New York hip-hop act live. If reviews from last year's 20th anniversary tour are any indication, the group has regained their polish and all members are on board. Cross your fingers for us.
Mariachi El Bronx - Saturn Stage, Saturday 1:40 p.m.
Last time we saw the Mariachi El Bronx they were sharing the stage at Dia de los Toadies and fans were eating up their version of mariachi which involves great music and a punk attitude. The fact that this East L.A. band is on the bill reinforces our belief that FPSF bookers have their finger on the pulse of great new music. This will be a danceparty of epic proportions. Plan on packing an extra dry shirt to change into if you are catching this set.
Twin Shadow - Jupiter Stage, Saturday 7:50 p.m.
Dominican-born, Florida-bred performer Twin Shadow plays the kind of electro-pop we wish was more popular. The real-life George Lewis Jr. is known for his DIY ethic and great performances as we can attest after catching his set at Maverick Festival in San Anotonio a couple months ago.
Twin Shadow writes tunes with a nice hook in it. Even fans not familiar with his work will get into the show. The synth-based melodies feel like party music. Watch the video "To The Top", then add this set to your schedule.
The Tontons - Mars Stage, Saturday 2:10 p.m.
This young band from Houston has been an Examiner favorite since we first heard vocalist Asli Omar's sultry voice against the backdrop of a talented rock band. More telling was the large crowd that made it to Stubb's BBQ early to see The Tontons open for Austin favorites, The Bright Light Social Hour. It is rare for a local act to play the outside stage at Stubb's and still more unlikely that fans would show early enough to see the supporting band.
Check out the video and listen to the stream The Tontons made for their latest, "Lush." The Tontons are likely to attract a wider audience if they continue making songs like this.
Washed Out - Neptune Stage, Sunday 2:10 p.m.
Ernest Greene more commonly known as Washed Out has been hitting the festival circuit with regularity. The artist who plys dreamy synth with impunity recently performed at Coachella Festival. Examiner caught the act's full band set at a sold-out The Mohawk earlier in the year. Fans of the Georgia-based artist know what the rest of America need to know. Washed Out play beautiful music you will want to listen to again.
The Deftones - Neptune Stage, Sunday 8 p.m.
The Deftones have traded on their great live shows to build a loyal fan base that not only consists of music fans but plently of music writers. Front man Chino Moreno is known for entertaining stage antics and the band's alt-metal esthetic lends itself well to the festival stage. Plan on headbanging (and perhaps crowdsurfing) to this set.
J. Roddy Walston - Saturn Stage, Sunday 1:40 p.m.
We have seen J. Roddy Walston and the Business once, at the Heartbreaker Banquet held at Willie Nelson's ranch in Luck, Texas during the last SXSW festival. After that rocking good set, the band easily made our list of recommended FPSF acts. Like Dwight Yoakum, the band has a country bent to their sound. Also like Yoakum the group tends to shy away from country traditionalism in favor of delivering their own version of what that is. In the case of J. Roddy Walston that means blowing away fans with guitars and energy while staying true to their Tennessee roots.
The Kills - Saturn Stage, Sunday 4:50 p.m.
The union of American singer Alison Mosshart (VV) and Englishman Jaime Hince (Hotel) birthed The Kills, garage rockers with a lo-fi approach. Three albums later the group found themselves touring with Queens of the Stone Age across the world. We are inclined to like almost any act that eschews interviews and stage banter in favor of letting their music speak for itself.
Chvches - Neptune Stage, Saturday 4:30 p.m.
The Scottish trio, Chvrches may be the only true electronic band to make our list and maybe that reveals our harsher view of electronic acts when recommending acts for a festival. Or maybe it means electronic acts do not always translate well to the stage. Fortunately for music fans headed to FPSF, Chvrches have built a sterling reputation for great live performances. After missing several of their recent Austin performances, we are excited to catch this UK treasure in H-Town.