According to Houston Press photographer/reporter Marco Torres, who was on site, Free Press Summer Fest was suspended and evacuated for nearly an hour after a severe thunderstorm struck shortly before 6:30 p.m. As per the previously announced protocol, festivalgoers were ushered into NRG Center, although Torres says many took the opportunity to call it a day and head to their cars.
About 7:25 p.m., FPSF tweeted that the evacuation had been lifted and the festival reopened.
Torres said he was waiting for Big Grams to perform when the evacuation announcement came over the PA system. The message also appeared on the FPSF mobile app, he added.
“Nobody was running or anything; everybody was like ‘all right, we gotta go,’” Torres said. “The photographers put on our panchos and stuff, but then it started raining harder.”
“A lot of people were headed to their car or getting an Uber,” he added. The traffic light at McNee and Kirby was out of order, Torres said, further complicating the evacuation because an Uber stand was nearby.
“I think about half of the people are going to stay and wait for them to reopen, and half are leaving,” he said.
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Now is a good time make out in your car.— Free Press Houston (@Free_Press) June 6, 2016
Besides Big Grams, left to perform at the time of the suspension were deadmau5, Young the Giant, Chainsmokers, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes and the National. A few unconfirmed reports said the festival reopened shortly thereafter, but FPSF tweeted that organizers were still discussing with public-safety officials before taking such a step.
"As disappointed as we are to suspend today's performances, our first priority is the safety of our patrons, artists and staff," FPSF co-founder Jagi Katial said in a statement released by the festival's PR team.
Luckily it didn't last very long. Come back Monday for a full recap of FPSF 2016.