The 10 Best Rock Acts at Free Press Summer Fest

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The Caldwell The Caldwell front man James Essary and his crew take inspiration from the likes of Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, The Smiths and many more rock legends. Their straightforward modern-rock sound comes with a tinge of mischievousness, a lot of loud, and an infectious. Last year's debut EP, Modern Love, included the fun "So Many Things" and the strong, haunting "Not This Time." Their sincere tones and heartfelt honesty should win them over plenty of new fans this weekend. MARCO TORRES

Deftones Trends come and go in the world of loud music, but somehow Deftones continue to roll on, putting out solid record after solid record. While those recordings are good, they shine live, where the riffs crush just a bit harder and the moans (courtesy of front man Chino Moreno) sound just a bit sexier.

They're a live band through and through, at home in the club, the stadium and -- more germane to this conversation -- the festival stage. Besides, you've always wanted to hear "My Own Summer" at Summer Fest, haven't you? CORY GARCIA

One of my favorite things about Free Press Summer Fest every year is that I always see a few names that I didn't expect to be on the list; this year it was the Deftones. The California-based quintet will bring their iconic riffs and unique vocals that mingle nu-metal, alternative and heavy rock underneath Chino Moreno's distinctive growl. I can't think of a better, more eclectic rock band performing this weekend. MATTHEW KEEVER

Drive-By Truckers Long since outlasting their early, all too convenient "reinventing Skynyrd" peg, Drive-By Truckers have matured into the best thinking-man's hard-rock band since Thin Lizzy. Every DBT album -- of which there have now been ten, including this year's English Oceans -- feels lived-in, messy, complicated, wounded, and defiant; in short, it feels like an album. Even in a festival boasting its share of indie and alt-rock heavy hitters, the Truckers will have separated the men from the boys by the time "Shit Shots Count" (a new tune that's been opening their sets lately, as brilliant and ornery as any they've ever done) is over. CHRIS GRAY

Eagle Claw I typically see Eagle Claw at Fitzgerald's during some kind of late-night, semi-local metal showcase. It's always awesome, and each time the same three thoughts run through my head: 1) Man, I wish I could play an instrument; 2) How'd they land on the name Eagle Claw?; and 3) How are these guys not bigger? I'm hoping this year's FPSF show gives the group more exposure, and proves they can get down and dirty in the daytime as well. SELENA DIERINGER

King Khan & the Shrines However much of King Khan & the Shrines' bio is or isn't true, it's safe to say that come Saturday evening a whole lot of people may be in for the musical shock of their young lives. Officially, self-professed spiritual guru Mr. Kahn started the Shrines in turn-of-the-millennium Berlin while paying the bills as a tarot reader, filling out his ranks with Europe's finest horn players to produce a "psychedelic soul" orchestra equally inspired by Sun-Ra and Wilson Pickett. Since debuting with 2002's Three Hairs & You're Mine, Khan and the Shrines have done nothing to disprove the rumors with a host of albums, singles, compilation appearances and soundtrack cuts that only increase their reputation as garage-rock shamen every time a new one appears. CHRIS GRAY

Mariachi El Bronx Don't let the mariachi outfits fool you -- L.A.'s Mariachi El Bronx (nee just the Bronx) tap into the same primal proto-punk core of Iggy & the Stooges and the MC5, as well as second- and third-generation revivalists like the Humpers and Riverboat Gamblers -- only they do it clad in uniforms that can't be too comfortable as the mercury spirals into the nineties. Which means, if the guys can avoid any heat-related mishaps, FPSF should get quite the early-afternoon wakeup call Saturday. CHRIS GRAY

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The Naked and Famous It's not that they lack depth, it's just that The Naked and Famous have mastered writing simple rock tunes that get your feet stomping and (if you know the lyrics) your mouth screaming. Your vocals may not soar the way that Alisa Xayalith's do, but we can't all have voices that powerful. If you're in the mood for anthems, make time to check these guys out. CORY GARCIA

Vampire Weekend Unlike many Houstonians straddling the blurry line between Gen X and millennial, I have a strong affinity for Vampire Weekend. With elevated lyrics and intricately layered instruments, the NYC band's recordings are always an aural playground. But will this hollowed, harpsichord-heavy sound translate to a live stage? I finally get the chance to find out. SELENA DIERINGER

J. Roddy Walston & the Business If Kings of Leon somehow figured out a way to take themselves less seriously, would that be a band that interests you? God, let's hope so. This Baltimore-based quartet plays tight, hooky songs indebted to classic-rock greats from Zeppelin to the Beatles without ever being too obvious about it -- and, just as importantly, without sounding completely miserable. Last year's album Essential Tremors, the Business' third overall, was as underappreciated as their set Sunday afternoon should be warmly received. CHRIS GRAY

Jack White Who are these people suggesting there is no "clear headliner" at this year's Summer Fest? Did they somehow miss seeing Jack White on the schedule? He's not just the most important artist on this year's agenda, he's the only one listed already assured a place in rock history. If that doesn't mean much to you today, it will one day when you're old and bragging about how you saw Jack White live. JESSE SENDEJAS JR.

I was debating picking the headliner as my choice of rock act, but after perusing the lineup, I decided to go with Mr. Jack White anyway, only because I've seen him perform a few times and it's such a great show. Mixing his many projects together (White Stripes, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs) with his latest solo material, and backed by a crack band of either all women or all men -- the women are a bit more relaxed, while the men add an aggressive vibe to his shows -- White brings the heat every time.

Standing in the shadow of the glistening downtown Houston sky-scape listening to "Ball and Biscuit," "Hotel Yorba," "My Doorbell" and assuredly a host of tracks from his soon-to-be-released new record, Lazaretto, sounds like a perfect way to top off the weekend. JIM BRICKER


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