The 10 Best Wild Cards at Free Press Summer Fest
Photos courtesy of Free Press Summer Fest
Die Antwoord There's nothing like Die Antwoord anywhere before Die Antwoord or since Die Antwoord. I dare anyone to prove me wrong. The band's members, Ninja and Yolandi Visser, gained global popularity by way of a unique sound and a stunning look brilliantly captured in a series of borderline-disturbing videos. Straight outta Cape Town, one imagines they won't wilt under the Houston humidity or heat, although their performance is sure to generate more energy than Reliant. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
DMX One the the champions of hardcore rap is the grimy yet somehow spiritual soul of DMX, everyone's favorite Ruff Ryder and dog lover. What he lacks in vocabulary (see this Mashable's article) he more than makes up for with charisma, energy, and sheer ferocity. So whether he's onstage asking "Where The Hood At?" or on the big screen with Jet Li and Steven Segal, you know DMX will be present with his menacing growl and surprisingly agile rhymes. Come on ladies and gentlemen...he won't be able to stop, drop, and open up shop alone! "Party Up" with yo dawg this weekend. MARCO TORRES
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Could Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros be labeled as rock? Sure, just as easily as they could folk, jam-band, indie, or a plethora of other genres. To me, this group falls under the label "hippie shit," and depending on who you are, you either LOVE hippie shit or you hate it. Personally, I love it! What's NOT to love? This band has 12 members who all look like they share the same bar of soap, and create music that makes me feel happy and want to feel sunshine on my skin. And with all the other garbage in the world, I am totally down for some sunshine. SELENA DIERINGER
Flatbush ZOMBiES Two years ago, this trio from Flatbush, Brooklyn started making a buzz by appearing on "Bath Salts" with A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ant for the Lords Never Worry mixtape. In the realm of creating retro hip-hop from the '90s -- like Joey Bada$$ and others -- they may be near the top of the list, and haven't been to Houston since last November with Bodega Bamz. Since this city's youth culture seems to have a healthy obsession with acts who were born and bred in the '90s and musically stay in that realm (Amber London, The Underachievers, Maxo Kream), the ZOMBiES will work on an FPSF stage. BRANDO
Ms. Lauryn Hill What does it say about the festival's lack of diversity when Lauryn Hill is lumped in with groups considered "wild cards?" Hill is this year's Mavis Staples or Morris Day and The Time or Sharon Jones, a singular performer shouldering the festival's entire R&B load. And she's more a hip-hop act than a pure R&B artist. Not that she won't shoulder the load admirably.
If she only sings "Every Ghetto, Every City" and "To Zion," the festival's funky meter will climb dramatically. Then again, it'll climb if she sings even a note, since there's no other R&B to be found on the schedule, not counting the Aretha you might hear during A Fistful of Soul. Maybe 2015 can find at least a pair of soul acts -- Alicia Keys and Rihanna, anyone? -- who aren't busy Free Press weekend. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
The Kills There are plenty of bands on the lineup that would fit the wild card category, but I chose The Kills based solely on the fact that they're an amazing live band. That, and Alison Mosshart, the feisty and fiery front woman, also enlists part-time with The Dead Weather, which also features one Mr. Jack White. The likeliness of her getting up with Jack or vice versa is pretty much 100 percent. Be at both shows. If you like hard rock and punk-driven psychedelic blues, then the Kills are definitely for you. JIM BRICKER
List continues on the next page.
tUnE-yArDs The beauty of a hometown festival is the power it has to bring new or unheralded artists to music fans' doorsteps. This year, for me, tUnE-yArDs is that special delivery. Doing a little homework to prep for the fest, I became enthralled by their odd videos and riveting sounds; every song is a cacophony of tribal rhythms and what'd-she-say lyrics.
"She" is Merrill Garbus, who teamed with guitarist Nate Brenner to form Tune-Yards in 2006. Since 2009, they've been particularly prolific. This year's effort, Nikki Nack, features two of my favorite songs of the year, "Wait for a Minute" and "Water Fountain." JESSE SENDEJAS JR.
Twin Shadow If you told me that 15 years from now George Lewis Jr. would be this generation's Morrissey, I wouldn't have that hard a time believing you. Talented, charismatic, self-depreciating yet rock-star cool, the man who is Twin Shadow is all those things we talk about when we talk about rock stars. Give "5 Seconds" a spin and then get ready to sweat yourself silly during his set. CORY GARCIA
Wildcat! Wildcat! My experience with Wildcat! Wildcat! is relatively limited, but enough to make me more than curious how this act will perform live. In the past couple of years, they've popped up on my servers thanks to algorithms based on bands like Phoenix, Cut Copy and even Bon Iver. I'm incredibly intrigued to see how their decidedly low-key vibe blending synth-pop and white-boy soul will translate to a festival stage. SELENA DIERINGER
Dwight Yoakam Last year, the Mavericks played to a half-empty field in the middle of the afternoon, a rare shot of vintage country music at FPSF that wound up being one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Dwight Yoakam has a better time slot, so that field probably wont' be quite as empty, but he still looks like one of this year's surprise winners. And I say surprise only because I'm sure a lot of younger people going, weaned on puny indie-rock and hyperinflated hip-hop, have no idea just how hard Yoakam and his band can rock live. He does it with an Elvis-like gleam in his eye, too, and is even still making great country albums like 2012's 3 Pears. CHRIS GRAY
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
The Ask Willie D Archives Houston's Top 10 Hipster Bars, Clubs & Icehouses 2014 Today's 10 Most Promising Young Metal Bands Hip-Hop's Seven Best Breakup Songs Houston's Top 10 Rooftop Bars and Lounges
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.