Setting my alarm during the summer is an unusual occurrence for me, but I decided to make the exception for two days only: Free Press Summer Fest. Because the festivities and concerts began bright and early, I wasn’t opposed to getting up, meeting with my friends, and welcoming summer in the best way possible with music and yummy food under the bright Houston sun. After getting up and throwing on my festival garb, I was ready to head over to my friend’s house and start enjoying the Free Press Summer Fest experience.
The moment our Uber pulled up to Eleanor Tinsley Park, my friends and I started to notice hazy clouds covering the park. We could not have been more delighted. It had been so hot that we were covered in sweat, and the idea of the sun not shining directly in our eyes relieved us. We immediately ran to the first concert, Post Malone, and began to take it all in.
Despite the first fifteen minutes being what I pictured my festival experience would be like, suddenly, things took a turn for the worst. The miniscule, barely gray clouds that my friends and I had previously taken joy in turned into a charcoal blanket across the sky.
Within five minutes, sheets of rain rolled down and chaos broke out as hundreds of festival goers searched for cover. I stood with a couple of my friends underneath a tree that provided minimal protection and caused us all to be drenched head to toe. Just when I thought that things couldn’t get much worse, Free Press officials forced evacuation of the venue, causing me to separate from my friends in the middle of downtown. At that moment I pledged that I would never attend Free Press Summer Fest again.However, due to some new surprising changes, that may change.
Previously known as Free Press Summer Festival, the event has evolved into the In Bloom Festival this year. Once held at the start of the summer, Houston Press Association has decided to revamp the festival by moving it to the start of spring. The festival has been infamously called Free Press “mud fest” or Free Press “rain fest,” due to the fact that for several years, it is has been rained out. In order to bring back the festival’s original sunny, carefree vibe, it will be held March 24 – 25.
Previous headliners have included very mainstream artists: Macklemore, G-Eazy, Lorde, Odesza, Tove Lo. In addition to changing the date, they decided to bring in new artists and have put a focus on rock and hip hop artists in an effort to attract a new crowd to the festival. The big headliners include: T-Pain, Beck, Queens of the Stone Age, and DRAM. Additionally, Broken Social Scene and Explosions in the Sky, two headliners from FPSF’s first festival in 2009, will return to the stage for the first year of In Bloom.
Despite these major changes, one thing that will remain the same is the venue. Eleanor Tinsley Park is located off of Allen Parkway near downtown and is known for its large open green space‒the perfect location to capture the essence of the artists and the vibe that the festival strives to capture. In regards to the changes, the founder of the festival, Jigala Katila, said, “As we enter the 10th anniversary of this incredible festival that our dedicated fans have made their annual Houston tradition, we are excited to announce a new name and a new time of year, while returning to our incredible location, Eleanor Tinsley Park. We are always looking to improve the experience for the fans, and after the last few years of challenges with Mother Nature, moving our dates to the spring made sense.”
The name “In Bloom” seems fitting given the events in Houston the past year. Not only is a festival being revived, but so is a city after the destruction of natural disaster. And in the season of rebirth and rejuvenation, Houstonians can all come together to celebrate all of the new beginnings. For the complete lineup and tickets, visit inbloomfestival.com.