Free Press Summer Festival – Day 2 Recap

Photos and stories by Hannah Shulman, Multimedia Editor

Blue Healer

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San Marcos natives Blue Healer opened up Sunday with enough synth and grit to make any early bird at the festival stop and listen. There’s a hardiness to their sound that allows it to stand on its own, without the frills that usually accompany pop music. Between the upright synth bass from lead singer David Peck and steady undertones from keyboardist Bryan Mammel and drummer Dees Stribling, the set was light enough for a Sunday morning but more interesting than your stereotypical pop.

Aubrie Sellers

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What’s the point of going to a music festival in Texas if you don’t see at least one country artist? With a radio full of “bro country,” Aubrie Sellers is a refreshing reminder of what country can be. Her vocals are punchy with enough attitude to satisfy anyone, country fan or not. Sellers’ performance was commanding; I highly recommend seeing her if she’s ever near you.

LOLAWOLF

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Walking out with a drink in her hand, Zoe Kravitz of LOLAWOLF began a 45-minute performance that satisfied. Her cool and collected stage manner mixed with the downtempo synths brought to you by James Levy made for a performance that was high-energy without being overwhelming. Although they were performing on the largest stage at Free Press, LOLAWOLF had a way of making you feel like you were special; nothing was over the top, and there was a confidence in the music that encapsulated you.

BORNS

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“I am BORNS, we are BORNS, you are BORNS.” Garrett Borns easily connected with the crowd on the Saturn stage on Sunday. Keeping close to the front of the stage basically the whole performance, BORNS played to the adoring fans that I noticed had been there since the gates opened at 11 (he went on at 2:10). BORNS has a soft presence, and regularly invited the crowd to sing with him. His music has something for everyone, from the indie lovers to those who just want to dance, which translated well into a live show.

Allen Stone

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Allen Stone is easily one of the best vocalists today. I know that I’ve only written positive reviews so far, but I can’t stress enough the quality of music and performance that Stone produces. On stage, he is accompanied by some horns and a full band, which creates a full-bodied sound and allows for Stone to interact with his band. Again, if you have the chance to see him live, do yourself a favor and give yourself that experience.

Mac DeMarco

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After sprinting the other side of the parking lot, I mean park, I got to Mac Demarco’s set. Quirky and fun, the banter between Demarco and his guitarist had the crowd laughing between songs. Demarco is humble and fun to watch, which made the set a crowd pleaser.

Mac Miller

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Miller’s set was high-energy and highly anticipated. There were extreme similarities between Miller’s set and Logic’s, so I won’t repeat myself. However, Miller did end his set with a huge chant of “Fuck Trump,” which is always appreciated given the current circumstances.

Leon Bridges

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The soul that Bridges gives during his performances could only be matched by an artist like Allen Stone. Because he played on a larger stage than Stone, the feel of the set was not as intimate, but that did not stop Bridges from being a presence. His whole band was dressed stylishly, which made watching the performance even better. The whole tone of the set was a mix between energy and — I say this without a drop of irony — swagger. Leon Bridges is a palate cleanser in a world where harmonies and artistry are lost to over-powering bass lines and fruitless lyrics.

Young the Giant

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After having to evacuate the park due to thunderstorms ten minutes before their set, Young the Giant went on stage about an hour after their scheduled time. Now, let me preface this by saying that Young the Giant are the main reason I chose to cover Free Press. I saw them when they came to Houston about three years ago, and the change between then and now is phenomenal. The band’s confidence has skyrocketed, which showed in the way that they dressed and commanded the stage, with Sameer Gadhia embodying a little bit of Michael Jackson (I mean, check out the gnarly golden jacket he was wearing). The last time I saw them, they were amazing. Live, they sounded just like the record, but this time, they took more risks that paid off. Gahdia was freer with his vocals, and they allowed time for guitar solos, allowing Eric Cannata to end the songs beautifully. Along with songs from their first two albums, they played the newly reased “Amerika” and “Something To Believe In,” the only songs released so far from their new album (which I was able to get an advanced copy of so keep your eyes peeled for a review soon). But between the performance at Free Press and the new album, Young the Giant is headed in the right direction.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes

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Most artists wait until the end of the show to jump into the stage, but Edward Sharpe is not most artists. From the first song, Sharpe was wading through the crowd, inviting fans to sing the songs, or make up the lyrics if they didn’t know them. After climbing up a lighting structure to get back on the stage, the energy remained and for the rest of the set and ended my experience at Free Press on a high note.

Email Hannah Shulman at hshulman@nyunews.com.

Email Hannah Shulman at hshulman@nyunews.com.

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