2015 FPSF Lineup Brings On Mixed Emotions

To say opinion is split over FSPF 2015 headliner R. Kelly (shown at a 2011 Toyota Center date) is the understatment of the year.
To say opinion is split over FSPF 2015 headliner R. Kelly (shown at a 2011 Toyota Center date) is the understatment of the year.
Photo by Marco Torres

Scanning this year's FPSF lineup, my first thought was "I see they're not going out of their way to quiet those people who keep calling it a sausagefest," followed closely by, "R. Kelly...seriously?" I was thrilled to see the likes of Gary Clark Jr., St. Vincent, Charles Bradley and Riverboat Gamblers, and impressed by the names that can only help FPSF's mission to be taken seriously as a front-rank music fest: Decemberists, Mastodon, Belle & Sebastian, Skrillex, etc.

Could not care less about most of the rest, but I think the organizers chose well with this year's first-time local acts (Catch Fever, George West, Moji, Geo Chamba...) -- unless said acts happen to play hip-hop; the admittedly bonkers "Welcome to Houston" reprise notwithstanding. (Also, Lecrae!) Personally, all that doesn't quite add up to $200 worth of entertainment to me, so that's what media passes are for, I suppose. But throw a sucker-punch like Tears For Fears and it's like, well, maybe... CHRIS GRAY

The most terrifying aspect of this overwhelmingly talented lineup is trying to prevent a conniption fit when trying to decide what to go and see. St. Vincent puts on incredible, death-defying shows during festival season, risking life and limb to please her audience. Rocket from the Crypt and Mastodon better perform on two separate days at two separate times or there will be blood. And Tears for Fears and R. Kelly on the same bill? The festival is a mixtape of pure schizophrenic euphoria. Prepare for sensory overload. STEPHAN WYATT

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I am of two minds about this year's lineup. On a personal level, I'm happy. Skrillex, Tycho, Odesza, The Decemberists and RL Grime are all wins with me, and Tears for Fears is a band I've wanted to see forever. I can live with the heat for that. On the other, less personal hand: this is not the lineup you put together if your goal is to create a destination festival that expands to 3 days. No disrespect to Welcome to Houston or Chance, but the rap lineup is underwhelming. From Jack White and Vampire Weekend to Weezer in a year? Unless they're playing the Blue Album all the way through, that's a bummer. It feels like a lineup that's trying to do a lot but not doing any of it really well, electronic music aside. CORY GARCIA

Looking over the 2015 FPSF offering, it appears to be a very solid and diverse lineup that should please fans of all genres that the festival targets. There are certainly people that will have gripes simply because everyone cannot be pleased. There is a decent crop of headliners and Free Press has secured another huge EDM name in Skrillex. However, Charli XCX, Glass Animals, Rocket from the Crypt, Sturgill Simpson and the other mid-tier acts are the best part of the festival. Biggest disappointment -- Wyld Stallyns couldn't come to terms with the fest again. Great lineup overall. JACK GORMAN

Waking up to news that Skrillex and R. Kelly are billed as the headliners feels like standing in line for a roller coaster only to find out you're too short to get on the ride. There's enough to work with to know that this lineup isn't a total loss and everyone will still have a good time, though. That said, FPSF is now closer to its ten-year anniversary than the year they started, so I want to see a lineup that continues to set Houston apart from every other festival. Let's get back to the mindset from 2012/2013 and slow down on raising ticket prices until Houston gets a festival that justifies the admission. ALYSSA DUPREE

Last year, I had practically put myself on my knees and clasped my hands together hoping that the Free Press Summer Fest gods would deliver an OutKast festival date. Sadly, those gods delivered plenty of laughs and a hell of a lot of rain on my parade. This year's lineup goes all over the place, dipping with Dallas talents like St. Vincent and Sarah Jaffe but jumping sky-high with Chicago kings Chance the Rapper and the gawd Arruh Kelly. Do I know what may occur and what kind of panties are going to be flung when Kelz hits the stage? No, but that's sort of the point with FPSF -- expecting the unexpected. I mean, who the hell expected a rainstorm last year? BRANDON CALDWELL

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At first when I looked at this year's lineup, I wondered who could possibly be the target demographic for this. Skrillex hasn't been relevant in two years now as his passing trend has receded. Weezer is a nostalgia act with a great deal of appeal, granted; only FPSF itself sated our desire for that nostalgia just a few short years ago. R. Kelly? Is this a gag gift to Houston? Well, it's a gag gift I'd love to enjoy; I'd just never pay money for it.

However, credit where it's due: dig deeper and you can find some gems. The local lineup is satisfying. Tears for Fears is at least a nostalgia act we know won't try to shovel new material down our throats. Portugal. The Man; Pallbearer and the Mountain Goats will keep the underground hipsters happy, while the mainstream hipsters will love St. Vincent and the Decemberists. So all in all, it isn't a total bust. It's just another lineup, along with almost every festival lineup released this year, that carries strong mixed feelings. COREY DEITERMAN

After a 2014 fest that skimped on the heaviness, FPSF may have overcorrected with an abundance of metal goodies this year. After more than a year of wondering if Mastodon really might skip Houston altogether on their current album cycle, the superstars of sludge will finally wallow in the muddy banks of Buffalo Bayou, at last. The clinically depressed and critically adored Pallbearer should be an interesting fit at an unbearably hot outdoor festival, but it's a bet that New Orleans' mighty Goatwhore won't even notice the humidity as they sweat right through their leather in a metallic frenzy. Scale the Summit will be there for those of us on the best drugs, and proto-doom godfathers Pentagram promise to make Satan's presence felt as well. You've got four months. Start growing your hair out now. NATHAN SMITH

Something inherently unique about this year's FPSF is its "bucket list" capability. For festgoers whose main goal in life is to see as many acts as possible before they die, the lineup presents a goldmine of "I didn't expect that!" check-offs. It's not like Tears for Fears play all the time, who knows when Rivers Cuomo will go bonkers again and stop Weezer from touring, Skrillex is on every EDM fan's bucket list (for good reason), and R Kelly? Enough said. And that's just scratching the surface. Surely haters will hate (it's kind of what they do), but if you can't find anything to be excited about in the 2015 lineup, you probably just don't belong at a music festival. SELENA DIERINGER

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