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Best Music Festival Houston 2010 - Free Press Summerfest

This year, Free Press Summerfest went from experiment to full-fledged event. Despite no favors from the weather — punishing heat and humidity both days; an hour-long Biblical downpour the second — thousands upon thousands of people packed Eleanor Tinsley Park for a festival that delivered a lot more than headliner The Flaming Lips' candy-coated sunshine psychedelia. Low ticket prices, including a VIP package affordable enough for ramen-eaters, plenty of food and water, and a booking philosophy that would be adventurous for even Coachella or Lollapalooza (we can't think of another festival that would welcome Houston noise-wreckers Rusted Shut with open arms, for example), added up to a musical experience that was both tourist-friendly and singularly Houston. Now facing a future in which its success may well force it to relocate outside Eleanor Tinsley, Summerfest has accomplished in two short years what many thought was impossible: It has put Houston firmly on the major music-festival map.

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Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell

No argument here with naming Summerfest the best music festival in Houston last year. I came, I hung, I grooved to Medeski, Martin and Wood and Flaming Lips, and I left feeling good that music lovers in our city will support such a cool event despite rain, heat, mud, etc. We have needed such an event for a long time, and I hope Summerfest continues to grow and prosper in whatever venue it finds itself next year. But I do question calling it cheap. How is $40 for a mandatory two-day pass cheap, especially if like you just wanted to come for one day? The Houston International Festival, of which I am the artistic director, charged $17 at the gate last year for adults and we still get shit from people who remember that long ago iFest used to be free. And I challenge the assertion that Summerfest has put Houston on the major music festival map. We were already on that map. We book many of the same acts that play the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and other major music festivals. The booking agents know where to find us on the map, and so hundreds of thousands of Houstonians of all ages and ethnic backgrounds (and let's be real, the crowd at Summerfest was pretty white) who came back year after year. Which reminds me -- the readers picked iFest...