Free Press Summer Fest: Our Staff Picks From Close to Home

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This weekend's Free Press Summer Fest at Eleanor Tinsley Park is officially (way) sold out, so our readers who don't have passes at this point are sadly now forced to test their skills at the "secondary market." For those of you who are already in, this week Rocks Off will be bringing you our staff recommendations for acts you might consider checking out while you're there. Today we turn our attention to artists who hail from Houston and the surrounding hinterlands -- including Austin. (Note: planets correspond to FPSF stage names.)


American Fangs Beginning a month-long tour in support of your debut, full-length album at Fitzgerald's and ending it at FPSF sounds like a distant dream for a Houston-born band, but that's exactly what American Fangs are doing. Having survived a run-in with a self-declared vampire in Wisconsin, this hook-heavy punk act will be back in town Saturday, no doubt climbing rafters, surfing on the hands of their fans and causing all sorts of ruckus. (1:30 p.m. Saturday, Neptune) MATTHEW KEEVER

Now that they're gaining momentum on a national level thanks to their single "Pomona," FPSF is as good a time as any to check out American Fangs and see what the fuss is about. Also, they fought a vampire, and you should always support your local vampire fighters. CORY GARCIA

La Catrin and Dem Dam Dames La Catrin has been on my radar since a 2010 Houston Press article by Jef Rouner depicting her concert at Etro ("Witchy Woman"), and yet I've never managed to see her live.

In my head she lives somewhere between Lady Gaga's "Let's Dance" and La Santa Muerta. Pair that with stage sexiness by Houston burlesque troupe Dem Damn Dames, and you won't need the heat to make you sweat. (1:10 p.m., Mercury) BRITTANIE SHEY

Geto Boys The one local act that I must see is pioneer rap crew The Geto Boys. A reunited Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill have only played a twice together in the past decade, and neither of those times was in Houston. I believe that hearing "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" and "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" in the shadow of the H-Town skyline will be an experience you definitely shouldn't miss. (3:40 p.m., Saturn) MARCO TORRES


The Suffers Houston's resident big-band supergroup effortlessly creates an ska/jazz/reggae amalgam that just begs you to jump in and dance like a damned fool. Front woman Kam Franklin is about the cutest thing to ever take the stage, and both her vocals and her stage presence are insane.

One moment she's an earth-shattering powerhouse of sound, the next a breathy seductress, and she's captivating no matter what. Supporting her are -- count 'em -- wicked musicians, including one of the best three-piece horn sections around. (11:40 a.m., Mars) ANGELICA LEICHT

Black Congress This one is really a shame in terms of scheduling: Houston's preeminent post-hardcore maniacs Black Congress are stuck just after noon Sunday, practically opening the doors. If you're ready to get your face melted off around the same time people are typically leaving Sunday mass though, Black Congress is one of the best local bands going today and they will kick your ass. (12:10 p.m., Saturn) COREY DEITERMAN

Ume I can't recommend Ume enough. Hailing from nearby Austin, they always deliver an energetic, rocking set. Front woman Lauren Larson delivers a powerful guitar punch in a misleadingly tiny package. I'm also a fan of Austin's Octopus Project. I haven't seen them play in several years, so I'd like to brush back up with them too. (Ume: 12:40 p.m., Neptune) NEPH BASEDOW

Kashmere Stage Band I cannot wait to see Kashmere Stage Band. They got me coming and going. First off, they have an immensely inspirational story involving a dedicated band director using music to inspire children in an underprivileged neighborhood that has turned into a world-renowned powerhouse .

Second, I was a huge band nerd (first chair, drum captain, drum major) who is guilty of putting Tower of Power on mixtapes for crushes, so it stands to reason this will be a highlight of Sunday for me. (12:40 p.m., Mars) APRIL BREM PATRICK

The Octopus Project This kooky Austin instrumental band is always an easy festival pick. Not only are they genuinely wonderful people with some pretty solid Houston roots, the Octopus Project treats each performance as exactly that, a unique event engineered for their audience to treasure. (Sometimes there's bubbles.)

Even when the music gets head-scratchingly bizarre -- like anytime Yvonne Lambert goes to town on her Theremin -- their joy in making it is readily apparent, not to mention super-contagious. The Project's next Peek-a-Boo album, Fever Forms, is due in August; considering they're closing out the entire festival; they should have cooked up something pretty special. (8:20 p.m., Jupiter) CHRIS GRAY

Stumped? Sort out all our FPSF scheduling conundrums at this link.

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