Culture / Entertainment

The Ultimate Guide to Houston’s New In Bloom Music Fest

This Festival Reboot is Worthy Because of These Acts

BY // 03.24.18

After a few years of wash outs, and, frankly, less than stellar lineups, the people at Free Press Houston and concert promoters Pegstar took a long look in the mirror. Fresh off 2017’s Free Press Summerfest, once again rained out, leaving big-ticket performers scheduled to perform like Lorde without a stage, FPH and Pegstar did the right thing – they rebranded, and promised to take the bloated and zombie-like FPSF back to the basics, with a curated lineup not picked by an outside corporate conglomerate, and with a renewed focus on local acts.

Also, perhaps most importantly, they would reschedule to a time of year which is less likely to hit 95 degrees and/or see a summertime washout – March.

Still, only three months removed from another memorable Day For Night, it’s going to be interesting to see if there’s festival fatigue for In Bloom Music Festival, kicking off Saturday, March 24 and running through Sunday at Eleanor Tinsley Park.

While a few grumbled about a lineup not exactly brimming with stars, from artists your mom knows (Beck, Incubus), to something for hip-hop heads (Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage), indie-rockers (Broken Social Scene, Explosions in the Sky), and more, there really is something for everyone at the inaugural In Bloom installment.

Below, we pick five artists you must check out, and recommend a few others as well.

Saturday at In Bloom

Lil Uzi Vert 8 pm at the Bud Light stage

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This is the reason to shell out for a ticket for me. I love Philadelphia’s Lil Uzi Vert, a guy informed by emo rock and the theatrics of Marilyn Manson as he is traditional hip-hop signposts. However, seeing Uzi is like catching a white whale: he pulled out of last summer’s Summerfest with barely a day’s notice (naturally, he was scheduled for the day that wasn’t a washout), and recently skipped a date at a New Orleans festival just a few weeks ago.

However, here’s hoping the man behind “XO Tour Life” bothers to show up and puts on a great show.

Grizzly Bear 6:30 pm at the Bud Light stage

I’ve always had a fondness for the finicky, slightly psychedelic indie rock of Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear. Like Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors, they probably peaked in the deadbeat summer of 2009 with their Veckatimest album that brought us “Two Weeks.”

However I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed their 2017 return to form Painted Ruins. They rarely play Houston so this is a prime opportunity to check them out.

D.R.A.M. 5:10 pm at the Bud Light stage

When “Cha Cha” burst onto the scene in 2015 with its irresistible Super Mario Bros. sample, I thought, “this is cool, but no way this guy has a career after this.” Sure enough, I was wrong. He followed it up with 2016’s surprisingly consistent Big Baby D.R.A.M. full-length, had a huge radio hit with Lil Yachty on “Broccoli,” starred in a Sprite commercial with LeBron James, and spent 2017 teasing a new record by dropping a cache of catchy singles like “Group Thang” and dropped a memorable Tiny Desk performance for NPR, too.

Also worth checking out: the avant-garde hip-hop of Houston’s Ugly God; old-school Atlanta crunk kings Ying Yang Twins; and the dreamy melodies of Pearl Crush, one of my favorite local artists

Sunday at In Bloom

21 Savage 6:30 pm at the Bud Light stage

After 21 Savage dropped 2016’s Savage Mode, a chilling, one-note EP full of somber odes to growing up on the streets, I wouldn’t have guessed that the somnambulant kid who rapped about pulling up to your grandma’s house would date Amber Rose, birth a wholesome meme (the immortal “issa knife“), and generally break out (every song has a 21 Savage remix these days, it seems, and he was recently spotted in a cameo on FX’s Atlanta).

Let’s hope he shows up wearing this onstage.

Queens of the Stone Age 8:30 pm at the Flora stage

I’ve kept a place in my heart for the alt-rockers Queens of the Stone Age, even if I didn”t get around to checking out last year’s Villains full-length, their first record in four years. But their run from 1998’s self-titled debut record, through 2000’s Rated R, and finally, 2002’s Songs for the Deaf is as unimpeachable a three-album run as any in rock history. Josh Homme is rock’s George Clooney.

Also worth checking out: Auto-Tune genius T-Pain; producer extraordinaire London on da Track; and moody indie-rockers Twin Shadow.

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