For years, Aftermath has listened to young people complain about Houston's (supposed) lack of a music scene. He has even been guilty of believing it at times - hey, we were all young once. But over the weekend, Summer Fest hit the spot for both us and the entire Houston community, accommodating over 50 local and national acts. The weekend started out on a bit of a sour note, though: As Aftermath waited patiently in line - no Fancy Pants for us, thank you - we anxiously checked the time, making a mental countdown to 2 p.m., when the gates would finally open. But the appointed hour came and went, and we were still in line... for at least another 15 minutes. When we finally made it in, we headed straight for the Dos Equis stage, where Fat Tony was scheduled to play at 2:05. As we arrived, we heard Tony tell the crowd, "All right, we've got one more for you," and the beat for Invasion began to play. Seriously? After his set, as is his usual routine, Tony hopped offstage and began selling T-shirts and CDs, and as we walked up to talk to him, Aftermath heard him say something about getting signed.
AM: You got signed? Fat Tony (smiling): Yeah. AM: What label? FT (still smiling): Can't say.
(As soon as we find out, you'll be the first to know.) As we walked around the beautiful park, we saw that everyone was genuinely having a good time. Though, judging by the paleness of most people's skin, it was the first time they had been out before nightfall in a long time. Rocks Off isn't one to talk though; we're pasty as hell. At the end of the first day, our only real lament was that Girl Talk had the highest turnout. Really, guys? The guy's catchphrase is, "I'm not a DJ." So what exactly does he do, click a button on his Macbook? Hell, give Aftermath the stage, and we'll kick it old-school. Sunday was a little harder, not only because it was hotter and less overcast but because our legs were still tired from the first day, and we didn't pack enough sunscreen; there isn't enough lotion in the world to protect our neck from the sun.
As Aftermath made our way inside, we stopped to catch The Manichean's set. We missed their album release party a few months back, so we were glad we got to catch their set. Unfortunately, due to the placement of the 29-95 stage, which was right inside the gate and was nowhere near any shade, most people looked and listened but kept walking. Then came B L A C K I E. As Rocks Off walked to the Dos Equis stage at the furthest end of the park, he saw his girlfriend's sister and best friend at the front of the stage. Having seen B L A C K I E perform before, we suggested they move back... at least a few hundred feet. Sure enough, B L A C K I E immediately jumped off the stage into the crowd, which, in an instant, became an enormous mosh pit. Unfortunately, the set was cut short, because B L A C K I E invited his loyal fans onto the stage with him, and the sound engineers didn't like it. Aftermath can see both sides of the coin, but for the sake of pride in local musicians, we'll say, "Screw you, sound guys. Act like you know!" Then it began to rain - hard. Aftermath's phone fell victim to the weather. Well, sort of. We willingly went down the mudslide a few times, so we were kind of asking for it. After walking around and finding a water hose to wash ourselves with, we grabbed an ice cream cone, a water and headed to our spot on the hill for the last seven hours of the show.
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Uh Huh Her (above), a band we had never heard of before the festival, is the best female-fronted band we've heard live since the Ettes and the Dead Weather. We're going to start keeping tabs on them. Stars threw a few too many white roses into the crowd for our taste, and they even dedicated a song to Austin natives, but we'll still give them a thumbs-up. Why? "Houston, you get the entire fucking set," said Torquil Campbell, Stars' front man to a cheering crowd. "Austin gets this one." And you know what? It wasn't even the best song, so Austin can have it.
Then came Slim Thug (right) and Bun B, neither of whom Aftermath ever tires of seeing. Slim isn't nearly as animated as Bun, but with an eclectic mix of old, new and other rappers' material, he kept the crowd hopping around until the King of the Trill showed up and had the crowd going wild. Bun switched up lyrics, commemorated Pimp C's death as always, kicked around a few beach balls and, unless Aftermath is sorely mistaken, even handed some sticky to someone in the crowd. Headlining the festival was the Flaming Lips. Firstly, the performance, light show and all-around feel the of the Lips' set was amazing. But - and we never, ever thought we'd say this - Aftermath honestly believes the band's members are unhealthily obsessed with vaginas. The band's introduction was a video of a woman dancing, then lying on her back. As the camera zoomed in on her naughty region, the band members emerged from... a door. Yeah, a door. And the rest of the images on screen were equally unnerving; at one point, unless Rocks Off was secondhand high (which is a serious possibility), the screen showed a woman's vagina eating said woman. And we'll probably have nightmares for a few weeks. Thanks, Flaming Lips. Otherwise, good show. Though the Lips' lead singer Wayne Coyne needs to trim the monologues a bit. Rocks Off looks forward to going again next year, but next year we'll take an umbrella and a lot more sun screen with us. By the looks of it, we'll be peeling dead skin off our neck for the next two weeks. Still, we have no regrets.