Wait...When Did Houston Beer Fest Become a Music Festival?
The Houston Beer Fest crowd watches Action Bronson Saturday afternoon
Photos by Francisco Montes
Houston Beer Fest: It's not just for beer-induced dehydration anymore. It seems that while people were busy side-eying the folks over at Houston Beer Fest for the antics that happened in years prior -- overcrowding, oversold tickets, lack of beer, etc. -- something kind of amazing happened: they started giving a shit about the music.
Going into HBF's fourth year this past weekend, we didn't expect to find much. After all, anecdotes about overcrowded entrances, drunk festivalgoers (ourselves included, mind you), and irritated would-be attendees stuck outside the gates run rampant when Beer Fest is mentioned.
At the barricades for Alien Ant Farm
What we actually found during our experience at Beer Fest this time was quite the opposite. Whereas HBF had once been described as utter chaos -- think dehydration emergencies, long waits, and oversold tickets -- this year there was nothing of the sort. Things more or less went off without a hitch. Lines were easy to navigate, volunteers were informed, and there was plenty of beer -- and water -- a-flowin'.
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Better than that, though, was the complete change of face of the attendees. Although there were indeed a number of drunken frat boys in attendance -- it is still a beer festival, after all -- what we found was that the music fans far outweighed them.
But perhaps the change of pace was to be expected. After all, the folks at Beer Fest managed to step things up a notch on the music level, booking rad musical acts for this year's lineup -- Rick Ross (though he ultimately cancelled), Juicy J, Pepper, 3OH!3, and Action Bronson, to name a few -- and when you've got a lineup as solid as that, it makes a festival, even one held in the skunky-hot June weather, solidly awesome.
To be fair, it's not like Beer Fest had totally ignored the musical component in years past. The festival always had a music component -- even booking big names like local hero Bun B, and Reverend Horton Heat in recent years -- but its focus was always geared toward the beer.
That's all fine and good, but Beer Fest had been pretty damn disastrous in recent years. Dehydration and chaos don't build the best reputation, and Beer Fest's was sorely lacking because of it. But this year's solid showing has gone a long way toward redeeming itself.
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We didn't see any Houston heat emergencies, and most fans were relatively well-behaved. They were taking in the music on one of four stages, or were checking out the beer selection in the shade. The festival, which was once a clusterfuck of epic proportions, finally felt like...well...a festival.
The music really pulled it all together. While there was no question as to HBF's being a "beer fest" in recent years, we'd be hard-pressed to define this one as a "beer fest." Yeah, there was plenty of beer, but plenty of music too, and that music was legit and well-thought out.
If Beer Fest can keep it up, we have a feeling it will be a welcome addition to Houston -- and Texas' -- summer music-festival lineup. In reality, Houston has needed more decent music festivals for a long, long time now. We've got FPSF, which has grown to really put Houston's festival scene on the map, but it's still just one festival. Other than that, it's still pretty desolate. So if Beer Fest can continue to hang on the musical front, we're glad to have it.
Back at Action Bronson
And while we never expected Beer Fest to be the one to help fill the music-festival void here, we're sure glad they did. It's nice to see them heading for what appears to be a comeback story, born out of a festival that was -- in reality -- a hot mess only a few years back.
While there were some hiccups, by impressively balancing both beer and music, Beer Fest really made our experience overwhelmingly positive. We're glad it's here, and although we're surprised to be categorizing a beer fest as a music festival, we hope they keep the quality of the lineup up in years to come.
Now if only they can actually get Rick Ross to show up next year -- his no-show this weekend was his third consecutive round of Houston ditch the bitch -- we'll even let that hotter 'n hell June festival date slide.
Ball's in your court, Houston Beer Fest. We'll expect Rick Rozay to be hand-delivered to us next year, yes?
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