If you happened to head down to Lucky's Pub during the height of this year's World Cup action, you probably noticed the district around BBVA Compass Stadium, the several apartment blocks in the area and Warehouse Live has become one of those thriving urban pockets that so-called "livable city" advocates always talk about. Turns out it's even got its own nickname, the "EaDo Party Park."
Wednesday afternoon word started circulating on social media of a new music festival in this Party Park, which longtime Warehouse Live talent buyer Jason Price confirmed to us Thursday morning. Dubbed "Houston Whatever Fest," the two-day indoor/outdoor event is scheduled for August 9 and 10 at a most reasonably price: $55 for a two-day pass.
The HWF lineup currently features some some thirtysomething performers, predominantly hard rock, punk, indie and electronica, with outliers like female rapper Kreayshawn, New Orleans funkateers the Rebirth Brass Band and a reunion of popular Houston DJ crew the Boys and Girls Club. But plans also call for HWF to put almost as many comedy acts onstage, making it a kissin' cousin to Austin's popular Fun Fun Fun Fest.
In fact, Price, says he was equally inspired by both FFFF's comedy lineup and eclectic musical philosophy.
"I was thinking, ultimately if the opportunity came along, what would I want to do?" he says. "It really does mirror a smaller version of Fun Fun Fun Fest, where on a bigger scale a Judas Priest can play with a Neutral Milk Hotel, and pop culture and comedy is a thriving part of the mix."
Of that other multi-band bonanza that just happened about six weeks ago, Price swears he's not trying to either compete with Free Press Summer Fest or jump on its coattails.
"Absolutely nothing against Summer Fest," he says. "They do an incredible job with what they do, but I wanted to create a little more of a boutique experience."
In fact, Price says he had been hoping to do an event like this for two or three years, but was finally inspired to put HWF in motion by the recent success of Warehouse Live's comedy events. Ten of the 12 comedy shows booked at the venue in the past year have sold out, he says, and the Tuesday-night open-stage has become a buzzing little scene where Houston-based comedians like Sam DeMaris, Lisa Friedrich, and Bob Biggerstaff will hone their routines to take on the road at weekend date all over the country.
Joining them will be out-of-towners such as TJ Miller and Kumail Nanjiani of HBO's Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley, Jonah Ray of recent Seth Rogen hit film Neighbors. Even legendary loose cannon Bobcat Goldthwait of B-movie howlers like Hot to Trot and several Police Academy films, who has more recently become a respected Hollywood director in both film (the Robin Williams black comedy World's Greatest Dad) and television (several seasons of Jimmy Kimmel Live), is on board.
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Price says the plan is for the festival to host two outdoor stages and two more in Warehouse Live's Ballroom and Studio rooms, where the music and comedy will run in a continuous loop between about 2 and 9:30 p.m. He hopes to have a landscaping firm come out to dress up the parking lot where Dynamo's Fan Fest and more recently World Cup watch parties have been, and to find an area to set up a platform for the DJ sets by indie names like Passion Pit and Neon Indian.
"It's a little scary," Price admits. "But getting through this year and having a solid lineup, I know years two, three and four, the fruits of the labor will beef up."
With just four weeks to go until HWF, Price says most of the lineup is set, although he's still looking to add names where he can. But he's not holding onto any big-name headliners until the last minute just to be dramatic. We've known him for a long time, and trust him to give it to us straight.
"I'm not going to tell you, 'Man, you've gotta wait for these other names," he says. "Any additional acts would be anything that might be routing that for whatever reason didn't take a Houston date. Maybe they didn't want a Houston offer a little [while] ago, but now I'm revisiting. Obviously the primary focus is to take what we have here and get the word out."
And as for the name, Price knows "Whatever Fest" might sound corny, but it really is designed to be a WYSIWYG kind of experience.
"It can be whatever," he says. "That's how I really want to grow the event. I want people to guess."
Tickets for HWF go on sale at noon today via houstonwhateverfest.com.
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