Houston bid farewell to the Super Bowl this weekend, and even though the hometown team wasn't able to participate, thousands of Houstonians celebrated the event via a nine-day music and entertainment festival known as Super Bowl LIVE, which culminated Saturday night with a trio of Texas performers.
Even unreasonably long lines couldn't hamper the crowd's enthusiasm. At 5:30 p.m. Saturday, entrance into the grounds near the George R. Brown Convention Center took over an hour. Shortly after 6 o'clock, the event' organizers began denying people entry.
Food trucks lined the streets, showcasing a bit of Houston's diverse food options. Mexican taco trucks sat beside Texas-sized burger joints; and Louisiana gumbo trucks were sandwiched between Korean-Mexican fusion offerings and a chicken and waffles truck.
That only accounted for one block of Polk St., excluding the other 700,000-plus square feet that was cordoned off for the event.
Temperatures were a cool sixtysomething degrees, and the skies were clear — a welcome reprieve from both the rain and heat that tend to characterize Houston weather.
Native Houstonians and visitors showed up in droves to see Houston's own The Suffers, Austin's Gary Clark Jr. and the iconic Texas-born rock outfit ZZ Top. Unfortunately, the long wait times kept this reviewer from making it inside in time to see The Suffers.
Gary Clark Jr.'s set was a large draw for the crowd, many of whom came into town specifically to see the certified bluesman's free concert.
He drew upon all his influences — from blues and classic rock to funk and soul — and treated fans to an eclectic, energetic set list that managed to entice a few older ZZ Top fans who were previously unfamiliar with the younger performer.
ZZ Top didn't disappoint, as their musical abilities more than made up for Billy Gibbons' occasional vocal shortcomings. That's no jab, either. At 67, Gibbons' fingertips still possess more skill than most of his successors, but his vocals aren't quite as strong as they once were. Even so, his voice has more grit and character and grit than any of the overproduced material currently making its rounds on the airwaves.
Their set incorporated a number of classics like "Gimme' All Your Lovin" and "Sharp Dressed Man" alongside a few newer cuts ("I Gotsta Get Paid") and a handful of covers, notably Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
When it was all said and done, Atlanta and New England fans returned to their hotels, and Houstonians returned home to rest up before the big game Sunday night.
Half of the visiting fans will be leaving Houston disappointed but not with Houston and certainly not with our state's musical showcase, which concluded Sunday afternoon with a robust regional showing. Houstonians meanwhile will sleep soundly knowing that our city successfully strutted its stuff over the past week.
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