Sparse Crowds But Plenty of Potential at First-Ever TX Fest
Photos by Francisco Montes
Hermann Square Park
May 9, 2015
Kevin Fowler and Karbach and Deep Eddy Vodka, oh my! If you missed all of the Texas awesomeness over the weekend, Houston, well...you missed out. TXFest, a brand-new Lone Star-centric festival, took to the Houston streets — or Hermann Sqare, rather — to celebrate everything great about our fair state. And oh, what a Texas celebration it was. From musical acts like Kevin Fowler and Scooter Brown splayed across three different stages, to the Texas-sized samplings of local booze, this festival was nothin' but a good time.
Even the weather, which was predicted to be all gloom and doom, cooperated, ready to set Saturday's inaugural date off without a hitch — unless you count the lack of overwhelming crowds and miles-long lines as a hitch, of course.
From the moment we entered the festival well after the gates opened at 10 a.m., it was pretty obvious that the festival coordinators had pulled out all the stops on this one. Walking through the gates, booth after booth greeted us with Texas-bred beer and booze, all open and ready for sampling. Vendors like Deep Eddy Vodka even had the option to create beverages like the blueberry vodka and pineapple concoction they cooked up for us. No lie, folks.
And rows of food trucks, bar-themed games, and even industrial-sized beer pong flanked the opposite side of the grounds, should all that booze lead one to feel a bit competitive. Everything was there for your Texas music-and-drinking pleasure. The only thing that seemed to be missing were the crushing throngs of people.
It's an odd feeling to attend a Houston festival and find a table, or an open booth — especially when those booths are literally handing away free booze — but that's precisely what happened at TXFest. It was a nice change, the personal space,and the ability to see the artists playing a festival — especially considering the crushing madness of past events like Beer Fest, Houston's other music and beer sampling street party.
The crowd surrounding the stage for acts like thelastplaceyoulook, who took over the Ziegenbock Stage late in the afternoon, was probably a bit thinner than those Houston rockers are used to; the same went for acts like Lost Element, who were stuck on a stage flanking City Hall. But plenty of people were splashing around in the Hermann Square fountain during TLPYL's set (until they were thrown out), even as the cement expanse in front of the main stage remained sparse. And the band was hardly alone in that.
As we hopped from stage to stage, it was apparent that all of the other musicians were on point, and all were lacking a proper audience. Lost Element, who played on the Nue Vodka stage just over from TLPYL, put on a loud and boisterous show, but despite their rambunctiousness, still pulled in fewer fans than the makeshift basketball competition happening just down the street. Unfortunately, there just didn't seem to be enough festival attendees to go around, given that there were three stages to fill.
And even moreso, everyone at TXFest appeared to be suffering from a bit of festival-mania, given the ease of maneuvering from place to place. Unlike other, better-known Houston festivals, people weren't forced to stay in one place for long. And so they simply didn't.
Luckily, that all changed by the time Kevin Fowler, the event's headliner, took the stage. The Wimberley-based "Beer, Bait & Ammo" boys drew a healthy — but again, not crushing — crowd, most of whom had steadied themselves around the main stage before the band had even played a note. As the group delivered their hour-long set, there was still plenty of room for two-stepping or swaying by the stage as the crowd danced under the twinkling Houston skyline.
Ultimately, TXFest, should it return next year, looks like it could be a great addition to the city's festival scene. So let's keep our fingers crossed that this year was enough to convince it to come back.
Hounds of Jezebel