The beloved Free Press Summer Fest certainly didn’t disappoint on talent this year. Big names gave memorable performances and sets from Texas bands had concertgoers jumping in the air in the sweltering heat. Here were our favorites. 

Devin the Dude performing with The Suffers during the Welcome to Houston set

Image: Dan Joyce

St. Vincent

Dallas native Annie Clark shuffled to Houston from NYC on Saturday evening to deliver one of the most high-energy performances of the fest. Bedazzled in a black pantsuit, St. Vincent wielded her electric guitar, performing fan favorites like “Digital Witness” and “Cruel.” It was nothing short of incredible. The artist has become a national pop/indie icon, and Houston welcomed her with open arms.

Welcome to Houston

It was one of the most highly anticipated showcases of the weekend. The Suffers kicked things off with a soulful rendition of “Little Ghetto Boy,” belted out by lead singer Kam Franklin. Then listeners got a Houston history lesson from famous local rappers Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Bun B, Scarface, Willie D, Devin The Dude, Lil Flip and Mike Jones.

R. Kelly

Months ago, when the R&B singer was included in the festival’s lineup, Houstonians went bonkers, signing petitions to keep Kelly from performing. Nothing came of these complaints, though, and he was welcomed by thousands of fans. The singer kicked off his performance with the party jam “Ignition,” sparking a spectacle of gyrating across the concert grounds. He followed up with a mix of other classics like “You Remind Me of Something,” “Fiesta” and “Bump n’ Grind." He also invited a young woman to wipe his face during the hour-long performance.

The Tontons

Last year, the Tontons were unable to perform due to a good, ol’ Houston washout. With the blazing sun on their side, the Houston natives pulled off one of the most enchanting performances of the festival. Lead singer Asli Omar mesmerized sweaty listeners with amazing vocals and celestial, charming melodies. The band’s afternoon set was soothing and perfect for the time of day as fans swayed along to favorites like “Golden” and newer tracks like the just-released “Pony.”  

Gio Chamba

Gio knows how to create a party with whatever is available. His performances are electrifying, creating manic footwork and arm waving. The cumbia producer, who hails from Houston, creates a dynamic mix of Latin and electronic music. A crowd favorite, “That Pizza Though,” had the audience dancing for the full half-hour, despite the heat. 

Guilla

The Houston rapper played on one of the smallest stages at the festival, but that should change in the future. The charismatic producer charmed his way into the ears of his audience with his catchy lyrics and entertaining beats. Local Taylor Huffman of Catch Fever joined Guilla—the two providing plenty of evidence, right there, of the incredible amount of talent in the city. 

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