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Concert Experience

Free Press Summer Fest, More Like Free Press Rain Fest

June 8, 2017

My summer has never officially begun until I attend the annual Free Press Summer Fest that takes place at the beginning of June in Houston, Tx. Luckily, for the past three years, I have been able to attend as a volunteer and free of charge with KANM Student Radio and it is always such a great time. Whether it be the fast paced action of working a vendor booth with my fellow DJ’s, screaming orders to and from each other with the sound of the X Ambassadors playing in the distance, or the thrill of finishing a shift to just in time to catch the end of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s set to hear their beloved song ‘Home’ with my bestfriend; I can’t seem to get enough of this festival. The first two years I attended, the festival was held in the Reliant Stadium parking lot due to flooding in the usual venue; Eleanor Tinsley Park. However, this year, the rain held off the week prior to the concert and we were allowed to finally be at the modest park in the heart of Downtown Houston.

My friends and I had similar people we intended to see and for the most part, I got to see most of them. Starting with Indie band ‘Khruangbin’ who played Saturday afternoon at the Saturn stage. During their set was probably the most relaxed and tranced I’ve ever been in the Texas heat. Their melodies that bellowed out from their three-piece band had me swaying and smiling. I did tear up a bit but you wouldn’t be able to tell with the sweat pouring out of me. I’ve seen a lot of bands play but no band has ever had such togetherness while playing like these three. They were all so in touch with the music and each other and it truly showed while performing. I didn’t know much about this band before but I am definitely a fan now.

I ditched ‘Khruangbin’ mid set (sadly) to catch my favorite British Rock band: ‘The Struts.' I got to see this electrifying band first at ACL last year (2016) and that same night when they did a 20$ pop up show at local bar ‘Emo’s’ in Austin. To say I’m a fan is an understatement. My friend and I raced from the Saturn stage to the Budweiser stage, conveniently placed on opposite sides of the park so by the time I arrived at their set I was drenched in even more sweat. This, however, did not stop me from jumping and dancing along to hits like ‘Where Did She Go’ and ‘Dirty Sexy Money’. The lead vocalist of the band, Luke Spiller reminds me of a young Tim Curry as ‘Dr. Frank N Furter’ in looks, vocals, and stage presence. It’s always a great time at their shows.

After I danced in the heat with the Struts, I went back to KANM’s vendor booth to work another shift. Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch Rainbow Kitten Surprise due to an evacuation of the festival. It started raining pretty badly and Thundering and Lighting near the park. As my staff and I waited for word from officials in our booth, we all worried about whether we would be able to see the headliners for the day; Cage the Elephant and G-Eazy. I had my heart set on Cage the Elephant, I’m not the biggest fan of white boy rap but that’s another article for another day.

Luckily, the festival re-opened that same day and the headliners were allowed to perform at modified times of course. Now, when I say Cage the Elephant was worth working all day, running in the pouring rain, and fighting off drunk hipsters; I mean it. I was able to catch the last 30 minutes of Cage’s set and it was the best 30 minutes of my weekend. From hits like ‘Cigarette Daydreams’ and ‘Shake Me Down’ I was rocking out and crying the whole time. Lead singer Matt Shultz is a non stop performer who demands attention on stage, not like you would want to look at anything else during his explosive performances.

That was the end of day one and we all hoped day two would be drier; our hopes were crushed. As most know, Free Press Summer Fest was officially cancelled around 6:30 pm but the festival had been evacuated around 1:30pm. This was well before anyone got to perform. I was truly upset because I worked a day in a half selling beverages to festival goers so that I could see my favorite artists including but not limited to; Solange, Lorde, Chali XCX, Tove Lo, and Milky Chance. While the only set I got to see on day two was ‘Bad Suns’ which was really great, I couldn’t help but be disappointed for what could have been.

I think I will forever have the pent up need to flail dance like Lorde to ‘Green Light’ or cry in the rain to ‘Cranes in the Sky’ by Solange because they didn’t get to play at Free Press. Hurricane aside, Free Press still has my heart and my attendance every year. This festival consistently blends all genres into a serving line up each year; catering to almost all types of music lovers. Not to mention, it’s hosted in the greatest city in Texas. A few pieces of advice to those planning on attending next year:

        1. Invest in a poncho

        2. Expect rain AND shine

        3. Don’t try and steal from the KANM booth (you won’t get away)

        4. Get comfortable with mud

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