It’s no surprise that Free Press Summer Fest is one of the biggest annual festivals in the Houston area. Tens of thousands of people come from all over to “experience Houston.” The crowd ranges from old hippies to rappers and urban hipsters, all coming to take in the lineup, the food trucks and the incredibly decorated art cars.
For most, it’s a dream to attend a raving music festival. To be in the crowd surrounded by fellow music lovers is almost celestial. Well, let me tell you this, yes, music festivals are definitely an experience of a lifetime, and every festival has a different vibe; yet at every festival you have to walk. A. LOT. When I finally got to NRG Stadium, I had to walk about a mile in to get to the Yellow Lot. If you didn’t hear the news, FPSF was held at NRG Stadium this year due to the flooding two weeks ago.
If learned one thing from attending a music festival on concrete pavement this past weekend, it's to bring extremely comfortable shoes and drink lots of fluids. Most festivals plan on having their events on a grassy area. Festival season is in the summer, which means when it’s hot the grass is softer and it makes the ground cooler and more enjoyable. Concrete, on the other hand, just makes the ground hot. Approaching festival, the people walking next to me were already dripping in sweat, and that was just from walking to the lot. Sigh. It was 98 degrees the first day and 100 degrees the second day. Another sigh.
I finally got to the gate with my sweaty fellows next to me, and then we had to get through festival security. You would think that a festival such as Free Press would check more. Wrong. It went all across the board when I say that, too. General Admission wristbands could enter Fancy Pants tents. The security guards were rarely checking wristbands; when they did, they didn’t even check to see which entry it was. To prove my theory, my mom and I decided to try to sneak into a tent. I know it’s wrong, but when they only set up one large tent with cooling fans for the general-admission people, and there are so few fans there may as well be none at all, you’re going to want to sneak into a tent with some breathing space. Yes, my mom and I got in. Not only did we get in, we saw private shows, got refreshing drinks, and rested our feet for a little while. If there’s one thing they could improve, more tents (and more fans) for the people with general-admission passes is a must.
To balance out the pros and cons, the lineup was amazing this year. While I was there, either resting, dying from the heat, or dancing, I asked a few people who they were excited about seeing. Most of the people I surveyed mentioned people performing on the second day. Their response: Skrillex, Flogging Molly, Tove Lo, Major Lazer, Future Islands, Glass Animals, The Decemberists, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Robert Ellis, and of course the one and only Skrillex. By the way, did I mention Skrillex?
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I’m so happy smaller bands are being recognized. It makes me extremely ecstatic when bands such as Houndmouth, Glass Animals and Moon Taxi round up a huge crowd, a crowd as big as crowds to see headliners. I noticed that the bands who were playing on smaller stages (the Venus and Jupiter stages in particular) played really well. It could have just been because the crowd was smaller and intimate you could hear the sound better, I don’t know. Overall, I can’t recall a single band that sucked. All of them rocked, literally.
Another thing that I really loved about FPSF was how they gave away free drinks and gifts. There was a Coca-Cola booth where you would just walk up to the giant tongue and it would dispense a free Coke. The Chacos trailer had a game where you could win various things for free. There were free water stations and "showers" where you could cool off. I called the showers the power stations, because after you stood there drenched in the freezing water you left revived. Even though the water was freezing, it felt so good in the burning heat.
Festivals are something I think everyone should experience at least once. They make you feel so alive, and you leave with memories that will last forever. I’ll definitely remember Free Press Summer Fest 2015, and can’t wait till next year.
Ava Moursund will be a sophomore at College Park High School in The Woodlands in the fall. FPSF was her first music festival.