In its fourth year, the Free Press Summer Fest continues to be horrible news for New Orleanians who take pleasure in deriding Houston as our perpetually lame neighbor. The two day event is returning to downtown’s Eleanor Tinsley Park with one of the summer’s most extensive, diverse and nuanced lineups you’ll find outside of Manchester, Tennessee. Neo-folk superstars The Avett Brothers, country legend Willie Nelson and original gangsta Snoop Dogg lead a charge of over 120 bands representing the most exciting players of every relevant musical genre. Rockers include The Flaming Lips, Portugal. The Man, Primus, Maps and Atlases, Jeff The Brotherhood, Girl In A Coma and recently reunited So-Cal punk stalwarts The Descendants; rising hip-hop stars Shabazz Places, Z-Ro, Danny Brown and our own Queen Diva Big Freedia will be there; and the ubitiquous EMD presence includes Afrojack, Pretty Lights, R3hab and renown New Orleans aficionado Diplo.
But what makes the festival most unique is the way they’ve keep a solid focus on local and regional bands even after scoring headlining acts of increasingly impressive stature. The lineup includes no less than 30 acts from Houston and the surrounding area, in an assortment just as varied and interesting as the schedule of national artists. The highlight may be the appearance of the recently reunited Fatal Flying Guilloteens. With a sonic approximate somewhere between Hot Snakes and Drive Like Jehu, this Houston-based post hardcore band may be the only of their ilk that could also reasonably categorized as “rock and roll as fuck”. Popping up nationally on labels like Gold Standard Laboratories (R.I.P.) and French Kiss, their calling card became supreme instrumental aggression balanced by a refreshing lack of emotional depth (because, let’s be honest, dead seriousness had completely overstayed its welcome in nearly every “post” genre by the mid-2000s), and to the Southwest region of the country, the FFGs’ freewheeling stage shows became the stuff of legend.
Elsewhere, soul-shakers The Tontons, underground rap technician Fat Tony, one-man noise orchestra Limb, revolving-door indie rock ensemble the Eastern Sea and country/bluegrass impresairo Robert Ellis join New Orleans-based expats Caddywhompus (the members of which are also appearing with their high school mother sauce the Riff Tiffs) at the top of a charmingly expansive undercard of local talent.