Free Press Summer Fest

12 Cant-Miss Acts at FPSF 2015

Saturn Stage, 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Admit it: since The Decemberists released What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, you've been counting the days until you could be in a large group of strangers singing "The Singer Addresses His Audience." All Decemberists fans have. It's that kind of song. The Decemberists have got the goods, and it's been a long time since they've made it out this way, so enjoy the show for all that it is. And if you want to join me in crossing your fingers that they'll play "The Engine Driver," that would be cool of you. (CORY GARCIA)

Jupiter Stage, 3:20 p.m. Sunday
If you wanna be one of the cool kids (or maybe just one of the kids who hears some serious badassery), follow the sea of crusty punks headed down to Diarrhea Planet’s set. You won’t regret it. This little Nashville-bred punk band knows how to unleash the musical beast, thrashing around while they throw together a bit of pop, a bit of punk, and a metric ton of rock and roll, which they then dial up a notch or ten. What happens after that is anybody’s guess, other than it works, and well. Just ignore the fact that this one of the worst names in recorded history and go with it. (ANGELICA LEICHT)
Neptune Stage, 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Listen. You should catch a Flogging Molly set any time you can. In a box, with a fox, on the hot-ass pavement of the FPSF Yellow Lot  — doesn’t matter. Hearing Dave King bust out “Drunken Lullabies” while you’re half-drunk on both beer and dehydration will be worth the blistering heat. Oh, and feel free to dance around like a crazy Irishman, should you be so inclined. Everyone else will be. (ANGELICA LEICHT)

Remember how much fun Gogol Bordello was in 2013? Imagine that, but replace the gypsy characteristics with a whiskey-soaked Celtic feel and have what I expect Flogging Molly's performance to be. (MATTHEW KEEVER)

Neptune Stage, 3:50 p.m. Sunday
The trio from Baltimore via North Carolina have a throwback sound to the alternative ‘80s, and their popularity exploded in 2014 with a performance of “Seasons (Waiting for You)” on The Late Show with David Letterman. Lead singer, Samuel T. Herring’s stage presence is unforgettable as he charges from side to side, slapping his chest to show where his heart and passion lie. Don’t be surprised that the studio recordings sound different than the live show, especially when Herring uses a guttural metal voice. But beware — his inspirational lyrics and cult leader-like charisma are said to have changed peoples’ lives for the better. (JACK GORMAN)
Neptune Stage, 9 p.m. Saturday
I’ve been a Mastodon fan since Day 1, and personally, I’ve enjoyed their slow transition into some sort of hesher Pink Floyd. Their new sludge-pop material from last year’s Once More ‘Round the Sun jams hard, and should be well-suited to a nice, big festival crowd. Shit like this is why you grew your beard out in the first place, so don’t skip it. (NATHAN SMITH)

By far the heaviest headliners to ever grace a FPSF lineup, Mastodon will appease the metal fans traveling to the Yellow Lot on Saturday night. Their brand of loud, melodic metal with crunching guitar solos and Brann Dailor’s organized-chaos drumming style will definitely ‘Crack the Skye’ over the Dome. One thing is for certain, the gentlemen will experience weather very different this weekend as compared to what they felt during their cameo as “Wildlings” of the North in last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones. (JACK GORMAN)

Mars Stage, 6:50 p.m. Sunday
A highlight of any good music festival is the opportunity to dance with no abandon. Unsurprisingly, this year’s FPSF has its share of EDM acts, but Major Lazer is going to be the best set to shake that ass, ma. Driven by Diplo’s love of dancehall melded with crowd-pleasing melodies and samples, Major Lazer’s set is certain to be a mecca for club kids and beat lovers alike.  Bonus: The people watching during this set is sure to be ridiculous. (SELENA DIERINGER)
Mars Stage, 9:50 p.m. Saturday
After all the chatter surrounding R. Kelly’s FPSF headlining slot, how could anyone miss the actual show? It’s a situation that seemingly anything could happen:  Will protesters make a scene? Will R. address the dramz directly? Will someone get pregnant during “Bump and Grind”? Could he – gasp – give us some “Trapped in the Closet”? There is just too much at stake here to not eyewitness the performance directly. It might be totally awesome.  And even if it’s a shit show, that would be awesome too. (SELENA DIERINGER)

It’s difficult to write about this choice. Difficult because anything that I say will be criticized by a few of my dear friends who have strong opinions about this particular individual. I'm one of the few people that can separate the personal actions of a musician from his work in the studio and on stage. Case in point, I love the music of Kanye West, all of it. But I certainly do not give a shit about who he is married to, what dumb-ass thing he said to make people angry, or who his child is. Now, given that he has never pissed on anyone (that we know of), Kanye the bad guy has nothing on R. Kelly the bad guy. My desire to see R. Kelly perform his amazing music simply does not translate into my support for the horrible things he is accused of doing with underage girls. I just wanna see him perform the “Ignition” remix, dammit! Years ago, I was able to photograph him at Toyota Center for three songs from the back of the arena. Those three songs were some of the best I've ever seen in a live performance. So, my apologies to those opposed to R. Kelly, but I'll be there for the music alone. (MARCO TORRES)

Neptune Stage, 2:10 p.m. Sunday
Expect high energy from post-punks Rocket From the Crypt as they blast the crowd with several songs without even taking a breath; this is their first trip back to Houston since the RFTC reunited after breaking up in 2005. The matching themed outfits are another thing the band is known for, and makes them all the more fun to enjoy. For several years they anyone into their shows that was sporting a RFTC logo tattoo, until the amount of dedicated fans grew too large to accommodate them all! (JACK GORMAN)

Mars Stage, 8:40 p.m. Sunday
It's pretty simple: Skrillex is really, really good at rocking a festival crowd. He's scary good at it. Fear not: it's not going to be over an hour of the sounds of robots mating. Sure, there is going to be some dubstep in the mix, but there will be other stuff too, other stuff that you'll enjoy, other stuff that'll make you dance. Just go with it. You'll be happier that way. (CORY GARCIA)

This set will be worth attending even if you hate dubstep, if only for the light show. (MATTHEW KEEVER)

Mercury Stage, 7:50 p.m. Sunday
Post-rock, be it guitar or electronic-centric, is music to be played outdoors. Mother Nature does a lot of things well, but providing soundtracks is something she could improve upon. Luckily Tycho exists, and they make great tunes to listen to as the evening becomes the night, which is perfect for their time slot on Sunday. Think of it as a final breather before the grand finale of the festival. Tycho will take you on a journey, and you don't even have to leave Houston. (CORY GARCIA)

Saturn Stage, 5:30 p.m. Saturday
It’s the H-Town Hall of Fame, on one stage. If you can’t get down to this, you’re not allowed to claim Houston. Just be there. I’ll be there. They’re going to play “Still Tippin,” I promise. (NATHAN SMITH)

For the most "bang for your buck" can’t-miss act on the FPSF ticket, that choice has to be Welcome To Houston featuring The Suffers. Kam Franklin once said that their sound is like a gumbo, packed with all kinds of tasty ingredients. If The Suffers are a gumbo, then this super collab of rappers with a backing soul band is the additional étouffée and jambalaya that's just ready to be devoured. Last year, the crowd for the debut of the Welcome to Houston crew sprawled all the way down Allen Parkway, from I-45 to Taft Street. More people saw them than some of the other headliners. If you know Bun B and The Suffers as well as I do, you know that every new thing they do is guaranteed to be bigger and better than the last time. All I'm saying is...y'all better be ready for greatness! (MARCO TORRES)
Saturn Stage, 8:50 p.m. Sunday

Don’t Miss If: They play mostly “Blue Album” and Pinkerton cuts
Weezer has got to be one of the strangest bands of the last 20 years, flipping from deeply connective to completely banal in a very short period of time. Early Weezer, writing catchy but poignant testimonies sopping with insecurity, were able to tap into the hearts of American kids, helping geeky boys to feel and cool girls to love them for it. The “Blue Album” and Pinkerton were the pinnacle of what made Weezer lovable and smart, and no question, remain the best works the band has produced. 

And then came the bullshit. Feeling very overexposed as a result of his own good work, bandleader and writer Rivers Cuomo went batshit crazy and started writing garbage cheese songs like “Beverly Hills.” It was a complete 180 from what made smart kids in America identify with these bespectacled dorks in the first place, and the connection between fan and band suffered irreparable damage. If Weezer wants to win this crowd, sure, play “Hash Pipe,” “Island In the Sun,” and some of the newer songs off of 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End. But leave all that other trite crap alone, and focus on the gems. The people want the gems. The people want what made them love Weezer in the first place.

Skip If: They don’t. (SELENA DIERINGER)

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