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One More Day?

Free Press Summer Fest is itching to expand.

Free Press Summer Fest

Inside is a hand-built stage and small art gallery.

Free Press Summer Festival has decided it wants to grow.

This past Monday, the popular Houston outdoor music festival — which drew an estimated 81,000 people to Eleanor Tinsley Park in June 2012, the first sellout in its five-year history — posted a video urging fans to e-mail their City Council representative asking his or her blessing on extending the FPSF curfew, and "possibly adding an extra day."

A healthy crowd like this one this year has Summer Fest organizers exploring adding another day.
Marco Torres
A healthy crowd like this one this year has Summer Fest organizers exploring adding another day.
Eastdown Warehouse has fit right in to the Warehouse District since opening about three months ago.
Jesse Sendejas Jr.
Eastdown Warehouse has fit right in to the Warehouse District since opening about three months ago.

"More hours means more jobs to our local economy," the video's narration says. "To that end, Free Press Summer Fest is looking to help bolster the local economy and bring our audience an even more diverse lineup and less congestion, and to create more jobs, more revenue and more visitors to the city."

The video cites many of the findings of the 2012 economic impact study FPSF commissioned last year from the University of Houston, which reported that the event added some $14 million to Houston's coffers. Though it's hard to imagine how many more jobs would be added if each day's hours were extended (people would presumably just work longer shifts), adding a third day would almost certainly increase demand for more positions.

Specifically, the video says FPSF is asking for the same kind of extension stadiums enjoy, which allows them to extend their cutoff time past 10 p.m. while events are taking place. The extensions sought are from 10 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, May 31, and from 10 to 11 p.m. Sunday, June 1. (Our old ass asks, isn't everyone already going to be exhausted by 10 p.m.?)

The narrator goes on to mention, almost offhandedly, "as well as possibly adding an extra day to the festival."

But there's the rub. To us, it doesn't seem that extending the hours would be much of an issue, but adding an extra day could well be. Or maybe not. FPSF already shuts down Allen Parkway the Friday before to build out the festival, a significant part of which takes place on Allen Parkway itself. And many of the downtown parking lots now used by festivalgoers would be mostly clear of downtown commuters — or on their way out — by the later Friday start time FPSF organizers propose.

"Naturally, a Friday addition would begin later in the day, about the time those lots start clearing up," confirms FPSF co-founder and producer Omar Afra. "May consider a large park and ride as well..."

Here are a few reader comments posted after this article went up November 4:

@H_e_x: "I don't know, if it was extended I can see prices at least doubling. Consolidate before you expand, and no more white girl "rappers," that shit was embarrassing."

@superfluousyou: "Allen Parkway gets shut down all the time for various events. What's one more day? To everyone hating on the "summer" part of Summer Fest: ughh just shut up already. If it's so miserable for you, just don't go. It sold out and will continue to sell out, so I think they're doing just fine without you."

@RebelYellTexan: "Change it to Free Press Winterfest, and I'll give you all of my money. ALL OF IT."

@Hannah Ali Drew: "Two days is good enough, esp. as a summer fest in Houston.

@Chris Conaton: "A 3-day festival would go a long way towards justifying the $50 ticket increase over last year's price. Because as of right now I've been priced out of the market. If my $135 gets me 3 days I might think about it."
_____________________

Night Life

Eastdown & Bound
Inside the warehouse district's newest music venue.

Jesse Sendejas Jr.

The words "work in progress" spring forth on a visit to Eastdown Warehouse.

Anyone even a bit familiar with the people behind the warehouse district's newest music venue will tell you to put the emphasis on "work" in that phrase. The operators of the club, located at 850 McKee, have a big vision for it, but they're not waiting for a fully finished product to do any or all of what they have in mind. They've rolled up their collective sleeves and have presented more than a dozen events in the two months the venue has been running.

Flores says his neighbors, places like The Doctor's Office and Ponderosa, have been ­welcoming. Eastdown Warehouse affords what many of the other local spots can't — space, and lots of it. There's a large outdoor deck for smoke breaks and an oversize lot for the food trucks that will wheel in on occasion to feed ­audiences.

"A lot of those people are now hanging out at our spot, too," Flores says of the music fans who frequent warehouse district spaces. "We don't get fucked with here; the police don't bother us about how many people are here or the noise."

Inside, there's a hand-built stage and a small art gallery where local artists' works are on display. There's ample bar space, clean restrooms, offices and a gargantuan dance floor. Think of a more upscale version of Walters, just swank enough to host private functions, and you're on the right track.

This may all sound ambitious for an upstart, but Flores and Rodriguez have the benefit of some talented and experienced cohorts alongside them. Adam Rodriguez, a veteran in Houston's music industry who has brought national acts to Houston's House of Blues and other venues, books shows for Eastdown.

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