The Worst Music of Free Press Summer Fest 2014

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CHILDISH GAMBINO Saturday, Mars stage

Maybe it was the heat; maybe I'm just getting old. Or maybe Childish Gambino just isn't really all that good. The man clearly has a passion for performing, and more style than he knows what to do with. What he doesn't seem to have are great songs. All of the other hip-hop acts at FPSF brought great songs to the table -- not just hits, but songs.  Gambino has huge beats, stage presence and a Michael Jackson impersonation in his back pocket, but that's not going to be enough to buy him a second look from me. I want a hook. NATHAN SMITH

CAGE THE ELEPHANT Sunday, Neptune stage

I'm a big fan of Cage the Elephant, and going into this year's FPSF they were in my Top 5 shows to see. That is why, despite my pre-existing love of this band, I surprised myself after hearing only about 1/4 of their set before growing antsy and deciding to see what else was going on around the grounds. After about half the set, I journeyed on.

Their performance was underwhelming, which is painful to say because I am a fan. Even considering what appeared to be some micro tech problems -- singer Matt Shultz seemed visibly upset with his mikes at times -- the show failed to gain any concrete traction or the energy to really take off and become something memorable. SELENA DIERINGER

DIE ANTWOORD Sunday, Saturn stage

I'm sure a lot of people loved this, and good on them. Maybe I'm just too old or may I'm just not cool enough to get whatever it is these guys are trying to do, but I just thought that was...oh hell, I don't even know. I thought this was some foreign parody of American music made by people who had never actually heard American music, until I realized people were singing along and this is actually just what they do.

So I'll own up and say that I'm probably the problem, but seriously, I've never heard such "high energy" music come off so lifeless and dispassionate. Wait, is that what I was missing? CORY GARCIA

List continues on the next page.

DMX Sunday, Mercury stage

My theory going in to this year's festival was that DMX was probably the most intriguing performance on the bill, only because it was either going to be a classic or a train wreck. In the end, it was even worse: just kind of boring. I get it, we all get older, we lose a step or two, we don't have that same fire we used to.

It was just weird to see him trying so hard to get the crowd in to it while not trying it all to actually be good at his craft. It's kind of like seeing Ric Flair at this point: it's good to know he's still alive, but the idea of him actually wrestling makes me cringe. At least the beat to "Party Up (Up In Here)" still bangs, even if DMX doesn't. CORY GARCIA

Second Opinion I don't know why I ever put too much stock into this set, but dammit DMX, get your shit together. Twenty-five minutes late to a 40-minute set. You forgot the words to your fourth song. If you're gonna sing nine songs, you should probably focus on knowing every last lyric. Or at least look good faking it. Also, why were there so many damn people in your trailer? Still, though, for one of my worst acts, it was still time to "Party Up (Up In Here)." JIM BRICKER

EDM Various stages

How much of that can one seriously stomach? If a DJ is good, he or she is good. If the same music is blasted over the PA the entire weekend, and people are still pumping their fists to that tired old beat, then that scares me about the future of music. Packed with silly kids with not nearly enough clothing on, some of the worst moments came whenever Laidback Luke or Paper Diamond were crowding the Mercury stage. JIM BRICKER

FLOSSTRADAMUS Saturday, Saturn stage

Fanstastically-named FLOSStradamus is one of my favorite EDM acts of the past few years. This Chicago-based DJ duo has a trappier, grittier flavor than many of the other mainstreamers currently hitting the airwaves (like FPSF act Zedd, for example) so of all the electronic options this year, I was most looking forward to their set.

The strange thing is, that feeling never dissipated throughout their performance. It felt like the EDM version of dry-humping: it had feeling, but just when it started to get somewhere, it would abruptly stop. It was all build and no climax. Overall, the show just felt unfulfilling and incomplete. SELENA DIERINGER

POOLSIDE Sunday, Mercury stage

Imagine if the Doors meandered about even more than they did, but lacked those epic keyboard solos. Sounds boring, doesn't it? Progression is important in music, even if your songs are meant to be consumed by fans under the influence. Despite a generally solid lineup that left me with very little free time to be underwhelmed, Poolside did the trick Sunday afternoon.

Though the problem was the music itself, the California-based duo's execution was good, so maybe they just need a better songwriter. I didn't stick around for entirety of their set, but what I heard failed to impress. Maybe it eventually got going but with so much other great music on-site, I didn't have time to meander. MATTHEW KEEVER


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