This morning, the good folks at Free Press Summer Fest announced the lineup of bands for their seventh annual mega-concert at Buffalo Bayou Park in June. And it's a doozy. From old favorites like Weezer to up-and-comers like EDM DJ Flume, from English new wave rockers Tears for Fears to local favorites The Suffers, the festival has something for everyone. As a bonus, local rap dream team Welcome to Houston is returning for an encore performance after wowing the crowd at last year's festival. You can see the full lineup of approximately 80 bands on the festival website, fpsf.com. General admission tickets are currently going for $158.50, with "Fancy Pants" VIP passes selling at $199.50 and "Silk Pajamas" super-VIP priced at a staggering $999 (plus a $124.56 fee, natch).
Because we at On The Town came of musical age in the early 2000s—which means that we can't wait to see Belle and Sebastian—we decided to survey the younger and hipper members of the Houstonia staff to see who they're most looking forward to. —Michael Hardy
Sarah Rufca, Lifestyles Editor
This Oxford-formed band is only the latest of many from the UK to blend moody electronic music with an upbeat indie rock sensibility. It's not the most innovative sound on the scene—expect comparisons to Passion Pit and Chvrches—but damn, it sure is catchy.
For those of us who pretend that Swedish pop stars are our dance-y little secrets, the explosion of Tove Lo (pronounced TOE-vuh LOW) and her hit "Habits (Stay High)" onto Top 40 radio is downright annoying. This might be our last chance to see her raw talent before mainstream success turns her into the next Katy Perry.
Maggie Berardo, Editorial Intern
I can't wait to see Flogging Molly bring their adrenaline-pumping Celtic punk to Free Press. With lyrics steeped in Irish history, the band has a swaggering pirate charm that amps up the crowd at every concert. They're sure to play songs from their latest album, Speed of Darkness, as well as older favorites like "Devil's Dance Floor" and "What's Left of the Flag." Flogging Molly always gets me in the mood for a tall pint of Guinness and some good old-fashioned foot-stomping, with their strong drum and electric guitars mixed with an Old World fiddle.
JARED MONMOUTH, EDITORIAL INTERN
One of the biggest and most exciting names at Free Press has to be the electronic act of Harley Streten, a.k.a. Flume. The Australian producer found critical success with his eponymous debut album in 2012, but his knack for transforming well-known pop songs into sprawling dance tunes (like his remixes of Lorde’s “Tennis Court” and Disclosure’s “You & Me”) is what's earned him a rabid following.
Fresh off of her first Grammy win for Best Alternative Music Album, Annie Clark is another exciting act to make time for. The Texas-born musician is known for her off-kilter dance moves and introspective monologues while on stage as St. Vincent, but she ultimately lets her gnarly guitar solos and mesmerizing voice do most of the talking for her.
Chance The Rapper
Chance is one of the few popular MCs coming out of Chicago who's completely unassociated with the city’s notorious drill scene. The 21-year-old rapper ditches trunk-rattling bass and overly long linings of hi-hats for live, jazz-based instrumentation mixed with crafty, tongue-in-cheek wordplay. Still riding high off of the success of his well-received 2013 mixtape Acid Rap, Chance will likely mix music from that project with newer material from his debut album expected out this year.
While iLoveMakonnen’s unexpected hit song “Tuesday” took on a life of its own last year, the Atlanta-based singing rapper has proven he’s no one-hit wonder. From heartfelt, melancholy tunes like “Wishin’ You Well” to bass-heavy bangers like “Maneuvering,” Makonnen has a little bit of everything to offer at his shows. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even bring out Drake—this is Houston, after all.
If you want to experience an EDM DJ who's every bit as invigorating as Skrillex or Major Lazer, but not nearly as obnoxious, RL Grime is your man. By meticulously blending his own brand of trap-influenced EDM with raucous hip-hop selections, the Los Angeles producer keeps the crowd’s blood pumping for the entirety of his set.
Tunji Ige, a multi-talented 19-year-old artist from Philadelphia, is definitely an act that has the blogs buzzing. On his late-2014 mixtape The Love Project, Ige sings, raps, produces, and interpolates artists like Kanye and Eminem, showcasing his skills in a way that’s impressive yet not overwhelming.
Charlotte Aitchison is probably as cool an emerging pop star as they come. At only 22, the British singer already has two full-length albums under her belt, and has settled comfortably into the future-pop genre with a punk rock edge that’s as abrasive as it is charming. She even managed to make Iggy Azalea bearable for a whole song. Now that’s talent.
YASMINE SAQER, EDITORIAL INTERN
A year ago, my teenage sister annoyingly insisted that I watch a video of a musical guest on Letterman from the night before. The guest was an electro-pop group from Baltimore called Future Islands. I remember frontman Samuel T. Herring dancing back and forth on stage, his voice deep and soulful against the upbeat electric sound of the music, singing with an uncomfortable amount of sincerity on his face. They were strange, but I was totally into it. Their sound and energy compels you to dance (which I did). I’m looking forward to dancing again when I see them at Free Press.
Lucy Spicer, Editorial Intern
If you’re still high on the release of their seventh album in January, you know you’ll want to be in the crowd to see The Decemberists. Half quirky indie rock and half American folk sounds, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is a gratifying end to the Portland band’s hiatus. Even if you prefer their earlier albums, the Decemberists are renowned for their wacky live shows, so get your audience participation on and prepare for a performance that may or may not include a reenactment of a historical event.
It’s been a few years since we’ve heard from Ben Kweller on the music front (unless you count his duet with Selena Gomez on the Rudderless soundtrack), but the indie music veteran has plenty of material to choose from for Free Press. Pitchfork and die-hard fans would probably prefer to hear exclusively classic selections from his early albums, but hopefully Kweller won’t bow to all the pressure. After all, his most recent album was called Go Fly a Kite—and many of its upbeat tunes have the potential to be summer anthems.
Brandi Carlile is a phenomenal performer: she somehow manages to look equally at home playing a free show in a crowded ice cream parlor as she does playing at Benaroya Hall with the Seattle Symphony behind her. If the two songs released from her new album (due March 3rd) are any indication, The Firewatcher’s Daughter is going to be heavy on the folk. Can there be any better soundtrack for the scorching Houston sun than Brandi’s powerhouse voice accompanied by some folksy backing vocals? Sounds like summer to me.