Pat Green Or Monkeys Riding Dogs? A July 4 Dilemma Solved

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Sunday, the City of Houston will celebrate our fine country's independence from the Redcoats in the same way it does every single other year, with the self-proclaimed "Largest Land-Based Fireworks Show in the Nation," Freedom Over Texas. This year, the festival's blander-than-white-bread headliner will be Pat "The Devil's Spawn" Green, one of Lonesome Onry and Mean's favorite musicians. (And by favorite "musician," we mean favorite whipping boy.)

You know those time-share schemes where salespeople call you at home and promise you, like, a trip to Orlando if you just come up to The Woodlands and listen to their sales pitch? Rocks Off thinks that's what Freedom Over Texas is kinda like. The festivities start at 4 p.m., but only after Green finishes playing around 9:30 will the real fun begin.

Of course we want to see exploding shit the fireworks display, but it feels like the City is telling us we can only have our dessert after we finish our gruel. Over the previous decade, headliners have ranged from The Judds, Leann Rimes and Clint Black (promising) to Los Lonely Boys (the sole rock group). Things really took a turn for the worse in 2007. Since then the headliners have left Rocks Off bored bored bored bored bored.

We understand, after all, that the event is supposed to be family-friendly, and we also understand that it costs money to put on these things. The festival is something of a fundraiser for the Houston Food Bank in that the admission price of $8 is reduced to free if you bring a canned good.

But what we don't understand is why the city can't offer a little more variety in the program, can't try to appeal to those of us who are interested in something other than a tame and tedious Nashville-manicured musician. Especially since we can watch the fireworks from pretty much anywhere else along the bayou.

It can't be money - Shell is underwriting this year's fireworks display (previous years were sponsored by Chevy). If the Art Car Parade can get George Clinton and Free Press Summerfest can get The Flaming Lips, surely the City of Houston can hire someone more interesting than Pat Green to entertain us. Hell, call Allen Hill Entertainment; even Via Colori had a stage featuring some of Houston's up-and-coming indie bands this year.

Since Rocks Off can watch the fireworks from the comfort of our friend's front porch on White Oak Bayou, we're looking for something different to do that night. Next, we've presented some alternatives for you as well.

Sam Houston Race Park: What's better than exploding shit fireworks? Team Ghost Riders, described by the Sam Houston Race Park Web site as such (emphasis totally ours):

one of the most unique exhibitions touring the country today. Tim "Wild Thang" Lepard and his animal friends Charger & Rock, Laramie & Ted, Mega & Dog, and Dakota & Spot make up Team Ghost Riders. This energetic group consists of four monkeys riding dogs and herding sheep (!!!) in a hilariously entertaining performance.

Hilarious indeed! The fireworks start at 10:15 p.m., and there will also be 12 regular races so maybe you'll get lucky. Parking is free before 6 p.m. and you won't have contend with downtown traffic. The Race Park also has a celebration with fireworks Saturday night.

Houston Symphony's Star Spangled Salute: More exploding shit! Cannons! Michael Krajewski will lead Houston's Symphony, a group of musicians whose popularity has grown nationally over the past year, in performing Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture with 16 cannon! shots to bring you right back to that moment we finally drove the British off our shores. Also performing are the Texas Tenors, who'll sing classics like "Deep In The Heart of Texas" and "God Bless the U.S.A." Get to the park early to join every other Houstonian and their dog in a barbecue before heading to the hill at Miller Outdoor Theatre around 8:30 p.m.

Target Free First Sunday at the MFAH: If you need someplace to entertain the kids, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston is the place to be. Beware, it'll probably be crowded, as admission, underwritten by the retail store, is free for everyone the first Sunday of each month. On these days, the MFAH has tons of hands-on exhibits and art projects for kiddos, including scavenger hunts for items in paintings. This month will focus on - what else? - American works of art. Best of all, the museum is air-conditioned.

If you love the arts but not ankle-biters, Rienze, MFAH's collection of decorative arts just outside of Memorial Park, will also have a more grownup-oriented celebration focusing on the American decorative arts in Ima Hogg's former home. Features musical performances and more.

Miyavi at House of Blues: Celebrate America's chief export - namely, pop culture - with this Japanese hip-hop/rock/pop artist who looks like a cross between Fred Durst and Boy George. The music is decent, but the stage show will be interesting at least.

Co-Pilot's CD Release and Tour Kickoff: Four bands will cram into the Backroom at the Mink on Main Street to celebrate Independence Day and Co-Pilot's tour kickoff. Tickets start at $5. Find a parking garage downtown to catch the fireworks before heading to the bar.

BBQ and Downtown Fireworks Party at Super Happy Fun Land: Featuring Cadre, The Holy Hand Grenades, Rainbows in Your Wildest Dreams, Searching For Signal and probably one of the best view of fireworks in EaDo.

Texas Metal at Dan Electros: Featuring locals Knocturnal Maddness, Souls Of Agony, Neckpiece, Witness To The Fallen and Automatic Thrill

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