More FPSF 2012 Coverage: • Summer Fest line-up reviews on the Rocks Off blog.
• Free Press Summer Fest 2012: The Sexy, Sweaty Crowds
• Popsicles and Pizza: The Food of Summer Fest
• FPSF: The Bands from Saturday
• FPSF: The Bands from Sunday
Cory Garcia: Walking past the Super Happy Fun Land stage Saturday I heard the singer for one of the bands yell out "Let's all get raped!" Since I don't know what the context for that was, I can't make any judgments other than to say that it was a thing that happened and ended up in my notebook. What I can say is the price-gouging on sodas was maddening. The sign says $3 for a 20-oz soda, but when you get to the bar they want $5 for a 12-oz? I understand that festival economics means higher prices, but if you're going to gouge me be up front about it.
Chris Gray: This isn't all that weird, but after I saw wistful Austin trio Papermoons (whose 2009 LP New Tales is one of the best Houston records of the late '00s), the DJ on Stage 4 cranked into a set of horns-up Buzz-rock, starting with Audioslave's "Cochise" and continuing on into Korn. It was a little odd to hear that stuff at Summer Fest, although Lord knows there was plenty of heavy music around. But I always thought one of the main reasons the whole thing started was to show that Houston audiences will embrace other kinds of alternative music than the one 94.5 plays. (See: Nickelback.) It doesn't matter, I guess. "Cochise" will always be a great fuckin' song, and I was happy to hear it Sunday.
Corey Dieterman: The most personally bizarre moment of Summerfest for me came from hanging around the medical area. I saw a kid get dragged in after passing out on some bad MDMA (his own admission), then immediately after that I overheard a panicked call asking for medical personnel to be sent to the Flaming Lips dressing room. Perhaps it's just my perverse mind connecting events, but I was instantly wondering what kind of crazy party those guys were having in there in the middle of the afternoon. Then again, considering the band, this probably isn't WTF-worthy at all, is it? At least it was none too serious to keep our weirdo heroes from playing.
Christina Lynn: I, not once but TWICE on Sunday, saw condoms out and about. The first time happened in one of the Fancy Pants tents. I was going to sit down there until I saw a little rubber there and immediately had a Seinfeld moment where I thought, like Cosmo Kramer when he finds a condom in George's car, "It's a c-c-c-CONDOM!" I don't think it was used, but nevertheless I didn't want to sit on that couch. The other time I saw one was near Stage 7. That one was tied to a fence.
Brittanie Shey: Originally, I had two. The first one was the Jeep marketing display. WTF was up with that? Taking up half the bank of the bayou, creating an unnecessary bottleneck between the two main stages so that even the media carts and ice trucks coud barely fit through. However, I was impressed to see that on Sunday they had realized their error and significantly adjusted the barricades to create a lot more room for pedestrians. Did anyone even see anybody taking a Jeep test ride?
So my real WTF was the trash situation. I knew this was going to be a problem before even entering the gates on Saturday, when the guy who checked my ID for my over-21 wristband thought nothing about tossing that wristband little sticky tab into the wind, as he'd no doubt done for the hundreds of drinking-age people before and after me. Comparisons to ACL at this point *might* seem a little premature but if this festival is going to get any bigger you're going to have to bring out the big guns.
At ACL, volunteers roam the crowd, picking up trash and carrying around recycle bins, encouraging people to keep Zilker Park clean. At FPSF, I saw a girl casually toss down her aluminum Bud Light bottle, literal wind dunes of trash at Stage 1, and so much paper confetti covering the ground you couldn't even tell if you were walking on grass or concrete. Some of that trash is going to end up in Buffalo Bayou, and that's pretty fucked up for a festival that claims to be all about Houston "love."
John Seaborn Gray: No music festival, no matter how well-run, can keep everything going without at least one head-scratching, WTF snafu, and the most obvious one at this year's Summer Fest was Saturday's bottlenecking of the main pedestrian thoroughfare between stages 1 and 2, the two main stages. A nice, wide expanse Tinsley Park on Allen Parkway was barricaded, squeezing all the walkers through an extremely narrow channel bordered on one side by the arbitrary steel barriers and on the other by a laughably gigantic merch booth.
Why they cordoned off that barricaded lane I have no idea; it would have been nice to have made it a golf cart throughfare, but unfortunately every last golf cart in the area chose to barrel right through the crowd, beeping, swearing, and occasionally actually riding up on folks' heels and bumping into them. NOT COOL. I don't know how the golf cart drivers got so cranky, but one in particular clipped my shoe off my heel with his tire the third time he hit me. Is that what a festival in unbearable heat needs, this kind of stress?
Alexa Crenshaw: It would be too easy to just say that the crowd at Free Press Summer Fest is weird. It's a wonderful thing that so many different folks are united in this great Houston festival, etc. Really, it is. I'll just say that what struck me as interesting was how many different people were attending the festivities this year.
As more popular acts are added to the bill alongside a solid variety of independent acts, it only makes sense that the crowd grows more and more diverse. Avoiding all clichés, it was just interesting seeing the high school cheerleading squad. Then again, with that came some bros shouting out a few times, "this shit's fuckin' weird!" I go, "you're weird."
William Michael Smith: Weirdest thing at Summer Fest? Not the pasty white blonde dude dressed in a a cheap ironic straw cowboy hat, see-through ankle-length cotton T-shirt (dress?) with a few floral designs on it. He had on Day-Glo red lipstick and was going for the whole Bowie cross-dresser thang. Looked pretty lonely to me.
Something weirder than the short Jerry Garcia hipster wearing an olive green, vertical stripe, strapless mini-dress circa 1982? Saw him again on Sunday and he was wearing Daisy Duke shorts with no shirt. The little white strap marks looked great on his Saturday sunburn. I may never have sex again.
Something weirder than the two women who wore pink smocks that had the lady parts painted with facial hair of indiscriminant gender?
Yes, something even weirder than all of this happened at Summer Fest.
Ricky Reed, the hyper-kinetic crazoid behind the Oakland, California techno-rap party band Wallpaper, said that after three visits to Houston, he's finally getting it.
"Houston is hard to figure out, but we're starting to really like coming here," said Reed from backstage at his gig. "We were just in San Francisco and that's how Houston feels. There's this odd but cool vibe about things. Houston is also sort of like Portland. Just laid back, loose, and cool. And ready to party."
"We like Austin a lot, too, but that's kind of obvious, you know," he added. "Houston is the big Texas surprise for us. And the food here is fucking excellent."
Craig Hlavaty: The girl (you could tell it was a female, not that I was staring, you know what I mean, Jesus) in the pink Power Ranger suit brightened my early afternoon because it made my fun, sweaty plight a little less aggravating. If this gal could galivant around in this head-to-toe suit, then I could quit my bitchin'. I didn't see Pink for the rest of the day, but I hope that she had a blast at the festival. And that she didn't run afoul of any Puttys.
Did you know that Amy Jo Johnson, who played the Pink Power Ranger on the TV series is now 41 years old? Wow, right?
Nathan Smith: Predictably, the strangest sight I saw at Summer Fest came courtesy of the lunatics orbiting the Super Happy Fun Land stage on Sunday. A giant, grimy banana wearing a Gene Simmons mask appeared to be thoroughly getting off to the grungy, grindy cacophony churned out by Giant Battle Monster.
It was an odd enough spectacle that I almost didn't notice the gentleman stomping around in a skimpy dress next to him. Both days of the festival were filled with unusual sights, sounds and smells, but the shenanigans perpetrated by the SHFL crew were undoubtedly the funkiest -- and fruitiest.
Matthew Keever: Near the East entrance, as a friend and I searched for shade, we came across a tent. Outside this tent hung a sign reading, "Free Naps."
"Are they serious?" I asked a nearby security guard.
"What?" he said. "About them being free, you mean? Yeah, they're free, but we accept donations."
"Where do these donations go?" I asked.
After a long pause, he finally responded.
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"To the... Nap foundation?"
Now that's a cause I support wholeheartedly.