Hometown Pride and Festival Highlights at FPSF 2015

The_Suffers_at_FPSF_2015-5As soon as I glimpsed the FPSF 2015 lineup, I couldn’t wait for the festival to arrive. Over the years, FPSF has continued and furthered their commitment to two important categories of bands: local acts from Houston and nearby Austin, as well as less common festival circuit acts. By appealing to these two camps, the festival ensures it will have its city in its corner and will draw in a wide group of attendees disenchanted with the same acts they’ve seen multiple times. By the end of the weekend, I was convinced that FPSF 2015 marks the most fun I’ve ever had at a festival that isn’t SXSW.

Welcome_to_Houston_at_FPSF_2015-2Two of Houston’s most exciting bands: The Suffers and The Tontons, each made festival appearances, as well as Houston mainstays Robert Ellis and Buxton. Austin had a strong showing of artists as well with Gary Clark Jr., Sarah Jaffe, and rising dance pop heroes Night Drive all performing solid sets. Hell, even St. Vincent is from Texas. And this is to say nothing of the hip-hop supergroup dubbed Welcome to Houston, which consisted of Lil Flip, Devin The Dude, Scarface, Bun B, Slim Thug, Z-Ro, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Lil Keke, and the Suffers. Between Devin the Dude celebrating his birthday by smoking onstage and Lil Flip rapping with his drank and a 2 liter in hand, the set got the evening crowd crunk.

FPSF_2015-4Yes, the Houston community felt familial and welcoming all weekend. Just days after massive floods made many homeless and cost others their lives, Mayor Anise Parker was on hand to make several announcements about how to donate to flood relief efforts, and she accepted a check from Budweiser for $20,000 to aid those affected by the recent floods. She also thanked festivalgoers for their willingness to move from Eleanor Tinsley Park, which experienced flood damage, to NRG Park. And I spotted her stageside, getting her groove on at a number of performances by Houston artists. Morale in H-Town ran high all weekend long.

FPSF_2015-1Despite the fact that festival organizers (and even Mayor Parker herself) apologized profusely for having to move from Eleanor Tinsley park, I welcomed the relocation. Yes, the hills and green grass of the park are more picturesque, and it is true that standing in the shadow of Houston’s downtown skyline feels immediately memorable. However sterile as the parking lot festival may be, it eliminates the worry of mud (and flooding) and it made the festival stages much more accessible, the grounds more navigable. Festival organizers also made sure to have several tents with plenty of large fans. As I’ve said before, I’ve been to this festival many times, and I’ve found it no less bearable than the heat of Texas October for ACL.

Beyond the outstanding Texas acts who performed the festival, here are our top six performances for the weekend.

St_Vincent_at_FPSF_2015-151. Vincent

Annie Clark aka St. Vincent has slowly built herself into one of independent music’s most recognizable acts. Beyond her dissonant and relentlessly catchy avant pop, her live show incorporates performance art, costume, and stunning lights displays. There may not be a more distinctive or consistently engaging act in the game. St. Vincent held everyone’s attention as she delivered the best set of the weekend.

Chance_the_Rapper_at_FPSF_2015-112. Chance the Rapper

Despite my love of hip-hop, I’ve always been a little disappointed with live rap shows. A dude bouncing for an hour while occasionally telling a crowd they aren’t live enough doesn’t constitute a performance. But recently, hip hop has produced some of the best shows on the stage, and FPSF has hosted them. Chance the Rapper’s presence is explosively energetic and visually stunning. Usually shirtless and clad in overalls and a fitted, he darts and jumps around the stage as he powers through fresh rhymes backed with a brass section. Chance is changing the game, and we’re completely devoted.

Belle_and_Sebastian_at_FPSF_2015-83. Belle and Sebastian

I’m sure not everyone danced and smiled and felt unfathomable joy like a skinny white boy with glasses should during Belle and Sebastian’s set, but I certainly did. With hits like “Boy with the Arab Strap,” “If She Wants Me,” and “Piazza New York Catcher” making the setlist, it was all a 90’s indie kid could want. Belle and Sebastian’s increasing status on festival bills still surprises me a little bit, but I’m not complaining. Not to mention, Stuart Murdoch wore a Houston Oilers shirt. What more could you want?

Weezer_at_FPSF_2015-44. Weezer

I didn’t know I would love Weezer’s set as much as I did until they started playing. In truth, it makes sense that Weezer now garners these huge festival gigs. They never really went away. They’ve also produced huge, beloved singles, and they were a definitive voice of the late 90s. In fact, when you look at the timeline of garage pop, which has exploded in recent years, it’s hard to imagine Weezer didn’t have something to do with that. The band played some new ones, but didn’t hold back on giving us what we wanted: “Buddy Holly,” “My Name is Jonas,” “The Sweater Song,” and two from underground gem Pinkerton: “Tired of Sex” and “El Scorcho.” Thank you!

Future_Islands_2015-135. Future Islands

Future Islands’ frontman Samuel Herring should win an award. Show me a more arresting performer in the industry. Of course, the world was turned onto this fact in a viral video after even David Letterman shared his astonishment following their performance on the Late Show. Future Islands’ most recent record Singles was solid throughout, and the band is unbelievable in person. They have it all. True fans know the album actually marks their fourth studio effort. They’ve already produced a respectable discography, and there’s evidence we’ll see even more outstanding material from the band, who have been playing new songs at recent shows. I can’t wait.

The_Mountain_Goats_2015-26. The Mountain Goats

The Mountaing Goats didn’t do anything more than they always do, which is play weirdo acoustic pop songs with incredible precision and energy to a crowd of devoted fans. The Mountain Goats’ crowd may never reach legions, but it will always be solid, and I will always be among them. When it’s mid-afternoon and an entire crowd of fans is singing along in the scorching Texas summer heat, you’re doing something special. This isn’t just about music; it’s about love and death and all of the transcendental and fleeting moments we live. As always, seeing him dance with odd and unabashed enthusiasm made my weekend.

See our full gallery of photos from FPSF 2015 below. All photos © Bryan C. Parker & Pop Press International; all rights reserved. Click any image to open in slideshow viewer.

About author
Bryan Parker is a writer and photographer living and working in Austin, TX. He is the founder of blog Pop Press International and print journal True Sincerity and recently released his first book, a volume on Beat Happening in the 33 1/3 series.

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