Bayou City

Short True Headliners, FPSF 2017 Boasts Diversity and Local Depth

Houston's the Wheel Workers are a welcome sight in the FPSF 2017 lineup.
Houston's the Wheel Workers are a welcome sight in the FPSF 2017 lineup. Photo by Allison McPhail/Courtesy of Fanatic PR
I know it's fashionable to scoff at FPSF, and I've done my fair share of smearing the festival in print. But this year's lineup does a lot to rectify the festival's past problems, suggesting a move to a leaner, cleaner, artistically driven event. FPSF has pared down its number of performers, cutting out the samey dudebro electronica bands to make room for some fresh female talent. It's exciting to see the festival courting an avant-garde R&B artist like Solange, or bayou-style folk music like Hurray for the Riff Raff or lo-fi garage rock like Cherry Glazerr. Even the standard dance-music acts (Tove Lo, Anna Lunoe) are women. Capping that off with the first female headliner since 2014 shows that FPSF organizers have finally gotten the message: Girls to the front.

For my own personal tastes, I'm happy to see the festival take an indie turn. There's a lot more folk and alt-country on this lineup (The Strumbellas, The Wheel Workers) as well as easygoing electropop (Milky Chance, Coast Modern). But I wonder: Is that really what FPSF is all about? While I'd be glad to reclaim the festival from debauched teenagers, those debauched teenagers have kept FPSF afloat for years, one overpriced Budweiser at a time. Are there enough mild-mannered music lovers in Houston willing to brave the heat and help this festival break even? Will low-key bands generate the same kind of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that festivals need to market in order to be successful?

Also, the isolated star power on this lineup puts FPSF at considerable risk. Headliner Lorde (whom I totally predicted — where's my cookie?) is slated to play Governor's Ball Friday, June 2, and will likely play FPSF on Saturday. That's not necessarily a traveling stretch for an artist with her resources. However, the schedule reminds me of Father John Misty last year, who performed at Governor's Ball and then canceled his Saturday FPSF show. If Lorde bails too, it would be a fatal blow to the festival's reputation. Let's hope her contract has some strong disincentives to keep her from ditching our party. KATIE SULLIVAN

I’m not going to take credit for this joke (props to Jack Gorman), but when does FPSF announce the headliners? Seriously, this lineup has depth, diversity and talent. Cage the Elephant is riotous in concert, the Shins are great, and other acts, like Solange, G-Eazy and Portugal. The Man, are certainly worth the price of admission. However, what has plagued FPSF in the past continues to plague the festival, namely, a lack of A-list headliners. Yeah, the Weeknd wasn’t coming, nor was Kendrick Lamar or Drake. But what about Chance the Rapper? Maybe it’s wishful thinking. Face it, FPSF takes place during one of our city’s hottest time periods of the year, and half the time, the thing ends up in a parking lot. That’s all well and good, so long as festival headliners offset these particular headaches. As 2017 goes, that simply isn’t the case. CLINT HALE

Reading FPSF's 2017 lineup, Houstonians may have a few questions come to mind, such as "Whaaaaaa??" or "Really?!?" This isn't to say that the lineup as released is necessarily bad, or that the artists themselves aren't good; it's just rather confusing considering this is a lineup for an outdoor festival in the middle of a Houston summer. The headliners are Lorde, who hasn't released a new album since 2013, and even if she is getting ready to launch new music this year, this makes her a very strange choice to headline a multi-artist lineup in 2017; Flume, who is to all intents and purposes significantly more talented than many of FPSF's previously booked EDM acts, but isn't exactly a household name that will drive the mass population to spend $148 on a two-day pass; G-Eazy, more of a household name than Flume, for sure, but again...); and The Shins (who are loved by many but aren't exactly energetic enough to close a hot-ass summer day's fest and are a very odd choice for a close-to-last act). Cage the Elephant is the standout here simply because they can provide a festival-ready rock set from their diverse catalog of newer and older songs, keeping energy high while incorporating some ballad breaks and providing some sing-along-ready hits for the audience.
On a positive note, FPSF's 2017 lineup hearkens back to a time when the fest booked more up-and-comers and cult favorites rather than mostly mega-touring acts. Unfortunately, what has not reverted back are ticket prices. If the festival wants to charge $148 per head, it needs to provide some stronger household names to coax a larger audience. There are some good draws here with more widespread recognition (Grouplove and Milky Chance, to name a couple), but overall the lineup seems a bit soft. This is not to say there aren't some great finds within the lineup and certainly Houston is going to discover some great new acts by way of it — as an example, take Hippo Campus, who are on a fast upward-trajectory but are still known mostly by public-radio listeners and Midwesterners — but this alone could make it hard for some to rationalize the price of a two-day fest. This is likely the best and worst part of this year's lineup. SELENA DIERINGER

If the usual storms force FPSF to relocate once again this year, they should move it to the Houston Astrodome. Wednesday's lineup reveal suggests it has become the local music fest equivalent of that building: a shell of itself, recognizable mostly as the vehicle that didn't just open doors for Houston music festivals, but served to "kick the son of a bitch in." From what I've gauged on the socials, music followers are as inspired as those Oilers fans who half-heartedly rooted for the relocating team in its last, lame-duck seasons here. A big complaint was about acts that have played here recently or have played Summer Fest before. Too expensive to keep oiling the hinges on that revolving door, some noted. Strangely, the strongest aspect might be the locals booked.
With Houston Whatever Fest cornering the market on notable locals, coupled with the recent free Super Bowl LIVE concerts showcasing Houston acts, Summer Fest actually showed some consideration here, giving acts that were missed (the frequently touring Khruangbin; Kay Weathers; MIEARS) a deserved spotlight. As often as I’ve seen them, I’d almost pay to see Wheel Workers with an audience of thousands at hand to hear them rock and rail against first-term Trump at a major music festival. In the end, FPSF and the Dome have something else in common — they're both still standing. Maybe not as tall as they once did, but erect nonetheless. And, as long as the wrecking ball hasn't arrived, they both still have promise to be something incredible again. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

Let's start with the good:

1. It's cool that the first name on the poster is a female artist.
2. I'm happy that some rad locals - including but not limited to Miears, Kay Weathers and Bang Bangz - made it onto the bill.
3. Yoga is an interesting idea.

Just after the announcement, I did a search on Twitter to see what the reaction to the lineup was, and I don't think it's much of a surprise that younger humans are more excited about it than older ones. I, being old and afraid of the sun, wish I could find the excitement in this lineup, but I just don't see it. G-Eazy as your biggest rap draw for a festival in Houston? Carnage on the second line at a festival that's hosted some of EDM’s finest? Who needs Phoenix or The 1975 when you can book the most generic band in modern radio, Bad Suns? But hey, as I always say, not everything needs to be for me. And so FPSF isn't. It happens. We all grow up. Maybe the Warped Tour will give me something to sweat about. CORY GARCIA

FPSF seems to have finally arrived at a comfy resting place, somewhere between a summer camp for rich or resourceful teens and an upmarket, plein air drug mall. Its slightly friskier musical aspirations long since buried and forgotten, the most recent booking casualties seem to be its roster of throwback acts catering to parents and otherwise stunted adults. Like so many other music festivals, it's less a rave than the music market form of a Panera bread — pleasantly bland, a little overpriced, and served in a bowl of living bread, except a Panera bread typically has air conditioning.

You could find more rock and roll in any one of Vince Neil's chins, and you'll likely find a wilder party happening in a Barnes and Noble Starbucks on a Thursday night. To save themselves trouble and expense, they might as well plan to build it directly on the Astrodome parking lot. The park will be underwater. TEX KERSCHEN
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