Cat Power/Social Distortion Cat Power has such a spotty live reputation that she's hard to pass up, epecially at a music festival. We all want to see the implosion when it happens. However, she once pleased me greatly (and made me somewhat of a fan) at one ACL Fest around the time her R&B-heavy The Greatest album came out (2006), but after that I sort of lost touch. But instead of a meltdown, Sunday she followed Mavis Staples -- no easy feat there -- with a challenging, haunting set of piano-heavy orchestral pop that started out a little unfocused but sharpened considerably and rocked harder the longer it went on.
It reminded me of Sinead O'Connor a little, which is a big plus in my book. I can only assume most of the songs were from last year's Sun album, which I have not heard, but her set certainly made me want to go listen to it, perhaps even buy it. For her (or anyone), I'd say that's a success.
Social Distortion I chose because they have been one of my favorite bands for many, many years, one of the few I would stick around to the very end of a two-day summer outdoor music festival in Houston to see. Sunday, because the end of their set would mean that this grueling, mind-blowing (so many kids), muggy and by all appearances enormously successful fest would be over, Social D suddenly became the best band in the world. Also, they sounded fantastic. CHRIS GRAY
Gogol Bordello "It's Gypsy rock," I told my friend, trying to convince him to join me for Gogol Bordello's Sunday-night FPSF set. "It'll be fun. You might even get pick-pocketed."
But I kid. Bordello's set, however, was no joke. Front man Eugene Hutz and his merry band of misfits kept the energy at its peak for the entirety of their set, performing hits like "Start Wearing Purple" as the Manhattan-born rockers introducing countless festivalgoers to their own brand of punk. It may have been the most fun I had all weekend. MATTHEW KEEVER
Machine Gun Kelly "You can't learn that," said The Niceguys' MC Yves as we watched Houston-born, Cleveland, Ohio-raised rapper Machine Gun Kelly tear up the Mercury Stage on Sunday night. "That's all heart right there!"
With his rapid fire lyrical ability, a live rock band and a healthy amount of "get-the-fuck-outta-my-way" raw energy, MGK was the perfect artist to wrap up a weekend's worth of exceptional talent that graced the stage beneath the freeway appropriately sponsored by Red Bull energy drink.
Tall, slender, and tattooed, MGK spent his set hopping from speaker to speaker and then into the crowd, much to the delight of a large, appreciative audience. Look for us in the front row if and when MGK makes another homecoming in the future. MARCO TORRES
Machine Gun Kelly (Repeated) I had absolutely zero idea what to expect from Machine Gun Kelly, but I got so wrapped up in the hype from the DJ before his set, that I took a chance and stuck around. The Mercury stage was hands down the coolest of all the stages, tucked under the freeway.
But then the lights, the beats, the music, the rapid fire flow... I was blown away. Also, his may be the most insanely badass drummer I have ever seen in my life. APRIL BREM PATRICK
Matt & Kim Matt & Kim are a fun indie band from Brooklyn, right? So you would think their set would be quaint and cute hipster shit, right? Nope! Houston got a faceful of the insanely addictive sexual relationship between Matt (ex-SNLer Will Forte as Alex P. Keaton, basically) and the vulgar yet lovely, sexually explosive Kim.
Between fan favorites like "Daylight" and "It's Alright," Matt & Kim hyped up the crowd with dubstep drops, hip-hop favorites, confetti and vagina talk. They said it was their best show of 2013; it was definitely one of the best shows of FPSF. See this band live if you can. SELENA DIERINGER
Mavis Staples Mavis Staples was by far the best act around on Sunday. She's amazing, and I felt like I was watching some ridiculously awesome gospel choir at points when she was bringing it home. Her voice has this rugged, velvety quality that was heavy enough to transcend the open area in the park, and she truly is a class act. Even Mayor Parker got in on that; she was down in front of the stage jammin' out. If the mayor can sign off on it, so can I. ANGELICA LEICHT
Another Amen For Mavis Intro'd by Annise Parker, the woman who once wooed Bob Dylan came out on stage with a cane, but she's barely slowed down at all. Her set was short, but highlights included "I Like the Things About Me," a sort of fuzzy '60s-inspired body- and black-pride anthem off her new album, One True Vine, and The Band's "The Weight."
She evoked the mayor herself while talking about the civil-rights struggle, insinuating marriage equality is the new fight. Later the cameras showed video of Annise Parker in the crowd, dancing. Mavis teased some people in the audience: "Ask your grandma about this song," before launching into the Staples Singers' biggest hit, "I'll Take You There." And take us there she did. I felt like I was in church. BRITTANIE SHEY
The Men If you told me that the Men would be my "best of" going into FPSF's stacked Sunday lineup, I probably would have laughed at you. The country rock crooning of their latest record, New Moon, left me cold. But, despite a Neil Young T-shirt, there was only punk rock to be found Sunday as they blasted through a set of their most energetic material.
When they slowed it down for a '70s-style jam, complete with wah guitar solo explosions, it only heightened the intensity. All that and dancing like spastic children made this the most entertaining set all day. COREY DEITERMAN
More Men My favorite act Sunday was, hands down, The Men. I was admittedly underwhelmed by Sunday's lineup, and found myself bored by some of the more popular acts my peers had talked up. Thankfully, Brooklyn's The Men revived my waning faith in rock, delivering a noisy set of punk-laden scuzzy guitar garage rock. They were the highlight of my Summerfest weekend. NEPH BASEDOW
Super Mash Bros. Sometimes after a few hours in the heat all you really want is to hear something that you know. Luckily for me, Super Mash Bros. put down a set full of fun things that got me and the rest of the crowd going.
Whether it was paying tribute to Quad City DJs by mashing up "Space Jam" with Porter Robinson's "Language" or making "Levels" (Avicii) listenable again by mashing it with Kesha's "We R Who We R," everyone under the highway seemed to be having a real good time. Bring them back soon, someone. CORY GARCIA
TV On the Radio Man, what a great show. The songs they craft just build and flow so brilliantly, and I love when a band that relies on heavy electronics on their albums can still beef up their live shows with guitars, drums, and other real instruments. What a great band, I hope they come through again soon. JOHN SEABORN GRAY
Ume I showed up early on Sunday to catch Austin's Ume, the act I was most excited to see on Day 2. As it turned out, I could have slept in a little longer. Whether due to rain or some other circumstance, the Neptune stage was running behind in the morning. As the minutes ticked by, I grew concerned that I'd miss Baroness' set one stage over, but I hung in there, and I'm glad I did.
The power trio sounded at least twice that size over the massive sound system, led as always by tiny front woman Lauren Larson's ferocious guitar attack. She set the crowd's heart aflutter with her raging leads, accentuating the notes with stomps, flails and a few collapses. Classic stuff, entirely appropriate for the stage that Iggy and Stooges demolished the night before.
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"Move back to Houston!" pled somebody in the crowd. If only. NATHAN SMITH