Electronic music takes victory at Free Press Summer Fest
Speaking like a veteran that has rummaged, camped out and stood through the Free Press Summer Fest crowds for the last four years, I can honestly say that this year has surpassed my expectations through the appearance of so many different musical genres that, together, intertwined an odd but beautiful melody that trademarked my experience.
The minute you walk into the festival – which, due to my media pass, did not take long even though the general admission lines to enter the festival were insanely long – you are hit immediately with uniquely wonderful vibes through the art (the art cars were amazing to look at), food, music and people.
I heard familiar sounds of indie rock as well as electronic dance. The combination worked in unison; just like thousands of others, I felt huge anticipation to start watching bands.
Electronic music has blown up in the U.S. these past three years and it made me happy that Houston wanted to be a part of this progression.
The growth in the festival’s attendance this year – which, according to the Houston Press, was estimated to be about 92,000 – should be accounted, to a certain extent, to the addition of these electronic artists like Afrojack.
Rock bands like Free Press veterans The Flaming Lips and Two Door Cinema Club were incredible but I have to hand the day’s victory over to the electronic and dance bands at Stage 1.
After I took in the scenery from the festival, I instantly drew down to stage 1 because I could hear the electronic disco-y sounds from the Portland native band, Starfucker (also known as STRFKR). Their music combines a mixture of indie, pop and electronic that undoubtedly makes you excited. The band’s upbeat music charged up the crowd and made you anxious for what was to come. My favorite moment in their entire set is when they covered Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” because they managed to maintain the liveliness of the 80’s classic, even though they’re men.
After the intensive dancing to Starfucker, my friends and I decided to go uphill to take a break. I cooled off with some ice cream, drank tons of water, made a bathroom break and charged back down into the ring for Major Lazer, which surely enough was going to take a lot of energy out of me.
I bumped through the crowd to get as close to the stage as I possibly could. Once I stood still, Major Lazer got on the stage and began their set.
Diplo, the producer behind Major Lazer, contributed to the set and further enhanced their performance.
The band, notorious for their reggae-enfused electronic music, played homage to a bygone era by playing classic dancehall reggae songs and prominently displaying the Jamaican flag.
This combination of upbeat dancehall reggae and electronic music thrilled the crowd and when “Pon De Floor,” their most famous song, crept up the crowd went crazy.
Everything from their remixes of current radio hits like “Where Have You Been” by Rihanna to their outrageous dancers provided for an unforgettable performance.
After the insanity of Major Lazer, I found momentary salvation inside the Fancy Pants tent with its glorified air conditioning and shade. Once I recharged my batteries inside the tent with a burger and a drink, I headed back out to the main stage because I could hear hip hop legend Snoop Dogg commence his set.
The crowd had insanely multiplied in numbers and, to my great surprise; Snoop went straight to playing his classics, like “Gin & Juice” and continued to do so throughout his performance. The crowd sung along in a drunken chant and the performance ended in confetti.
After Snoop, I noticed that huge waves of people were heading toward the stage for the final act of the day. I shoved through the crowd to get a decent spot in the middle which was incredibly difficult because the crowd was progressively increasing.
As I waited for Afrojack in my extremely confined space, I turned to my left and started to talk to a fellow festival-goer. His name is Avneesh Oberoi and, coincidentally, is a student at the University of Houston.
“I’m really happy Free Press added electronic bands this year,” Oberoi said. “I feel like that was the one thing they were missing to having a festival that everyone can enjoy.”
At the beginning of Afrojack’s set, there appeared to be some sound issues but, shortly after, they were fixed. Once that little glitch was recovered, his songs animated life throughout the crowd and environment.
The smoke and lights from the stage dispersed throughout the Houston skyline, presenting a beautiful and lively image.
Every song progressively intensified, and, despite the severe heat from the day, everyone in the crowd was hyped up with energy and dancing to the aggressive beats.
His song “Take Over Control” sparked the first sing-along; later a remix of Gotye’s famous song “Somebody That I Used to Know” brought much excitement to the crowd. The Dutch DJ never failed to pump up the crowd considering that every song was more pressing and intense than the next.
The sight of glow sticks, the moon reflecting over the crowd, and of Afrojack’s visuals delivered a perfect ending to a perfect day.
The crowds for Starfucker, Major Lazer and Afrojack had the most dynamic and lively people I have ever encountered at a music festival – and I have gone to my fair share of music festivals.
Houston venues like Stereo Live get flooded with people when big-named DJs like Avicii come to Houston, so it was only a matter of time before Free Press decided to delve into this popular musical genre. Every Free Press successively beats the one preceding it so I can only imagine that next year will maintain the same level of accomplishment by adding more electronic bands to the group.