This will be the Rocks Off team's fourth Free Press Summer Fest outing since the festival began that summer of 2009.
I remember it well: The small stages, the blistering August heat, The Sword, rolling in the grass with Hippie Mike, all of it. The main stage headliners were Of Montreal, Explosions In The Sky, Prince Paul and Broken Social Scene.
In 2012, those dudes would play the second stage. We got Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg now, bitches. And a Fatal Flying Guilloteens reunion.
I remember leaving day one of Summer Fest 2009 and driving to see George Strait at Reliant Stadium. Even though I was ensconced in Strait Country, I was still missing the throngs over at Eleanor Tinsley Park.
The next day was a blast, and the future was set for the festival. For once I had a major festival to cover in Houston, which meant I could use my own shower and sleep in my own bed for a change. Even better, I could say that I knew the people actually putting the thing on, and I could thank them with a handshake.
The next year's would hold the Flaming Lips, with Wayne Coyne's bubble framing nicely in front of the Houston skyline even as we all slipped in mud. Call me Craigstrodamus, I prophesied that. All it took was a few Lone Star tallboys in my backyard.
Weezer's closing set last year came with literal fireworks. I knew they were happening a few minutes out, but I still looked up at them in awe like a four-year-old.
For you FPSF newbs out there, here is a quick list of tips to ease yourself into the jewel of Houston festivals. Remember, native Houstonians, be wary of people from Dallas or Austin who are coming into our city. Meet them all with suspicion, and give them wrong directions if they ask for cool places in town to hang afterwards.
7. Willie Nelson: With no disrespect to the other bands playing on other stages during his time slot (Touche Amore, Jody Seabody & The Whirls...), you should watch Willie Nelson at 4:50 on Sunday afternoon. When you are old and gray and Nelson has long puffed off into the sky, you will regret not bathing in the music of this Texas treasure. Even if you have seen him ten times, still go see Willie Nelson.
6. Fashion: Cut that shit out, with your tight jeans, dark colors and random wool. It's going to be at 90 degrees on both days this weekend, which means it will feel like 100 degrees. Men, go invest in some swim trunks. Yeah, you can rock them without underwear if you want. The girls will probably be in bikini tops anyway, so you want to match them, right? Oh, and a hat will serve you well, too. But not a fedora. You aren't Don Draper.
5. Water: Yeah, I know, it doesn't get you drunk, but it can help you along the way. Drink a bottle of water between every beer or mixed drink so you can stay "hype" and "trill" for the afterparties. Do you want to be the guy or girl who can't hang because you were too cool to regulate your body's moving parts and gears? Oh, that's what you have been doing since high school? Never mind then. Carry on.
4. Booze: When people get to festivals, their alcohol snobbery seems to go out the window like so many cigarette butts. Beer snobs guzzle Bud Light, whiskey dorks will down well bourbon, you get the picture. It's fun to snap pictures of them and tag that shit on their Facebook walls. The important thing, though, is that you pace yourself and remember when to say when, even if you just saw your ex and you need booze to be near them.
3. Sleep: Get some. Be it in your own bed, some random car in Montrose, a back porch or with someone you meet at a FPSF afterparty. At least a few hours will do wonders for your mobility on Saturday or Sunday. Being in the heat is one thing, yawning in the heat straight-up sucks. Take it from a guy who has spent many an afternoon at ACL bored to tears. But you say, "Craig, I can just take some uppers and..."
2. Drugs: A friend of mine swears that smoking pot combats the effects of heat. Another friend says that Adderall takes the edge off, too. Still others will say that cocaine done in a Porta Potty makes you forget that you're sweating out things that you drank on Christmas since you are constantly worrying about running out of cocaine.
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I don't know what to tell you about drugs at Summer Fest, except that you should try not to die, and if a fat guy with negative sideburns, a moustache and a Disturbed concert tee asks you for some "bennies" or "laughers," he is probably a cop.
1. Food: Eat something, for crying out loud. The festival went to the trouble of inviting tons of local vendors and food trucks so you don't have to eat a melted Snickers bar from your fanny pack. Bro, manorexia went out with screamo in 2006, so you can eat a cheeseburger. Or two. And ladies, if a man wants to buy you a hot dog, you let him. He can't roofie that.