West Fest slowly becoming
a mess without free access, diversity
My Sunday was spent meandering the vendor-lined
and people-filled streets of the all-too-famous Allen Parkway Street Festival
(a.k.a. Westheimer Street Festival in Exile) and while the "colorful creatures"
of Houston seemed to stay hidden this year, the music shone as it never
Shiley Carter/The Daily
Superna lead vocalist Melanie
Brinks takes center stage at the Westheimer Street Festival in Exile, held
on Allen Parkway for the second year in a row.
A little disappointment filled the souls
of several hundred people, including myself, as we took out our wallets
to pay our $5 for entrance into the once-free festival.
Even more disappointment overtook us as
we realized we paid to see the street festival at one-tenth its normal
capacity of vendors, people and interests. However, enlightenment
fell upon me when I saw there were three
very awesome music stages where the raw and dedicated talent of Houston
musicians poured forth into the ears and eyes of passersby.
It appeared many of the band members themselves
were unaware of the new charge for the festival and apologized to their
audiences for the fee to watch their performance
when it has been free for so many years
in the past.
But the music was great, and I deemed it
worthwhile for my own music … as a matter of fact, I would have paid more
to catch all the great local acts that graced the stages
The Houston Music Alliance stage was hard-hitting,
with strong performances from Given and Faceplant. Given, a hard-rock band
with tons of energy and plenty of humor
between songs, tore up the stage.
The singer for Fallen Line joined Given
for one song; he and the vocalist screamed their souls out to the crowd.
Faceplant is a band that plays music you
might hear at a frat party. Fun-loving, light-hearted, and right-down-dirty,
Faceplant paraded on stage with blow-up beer cans, singing
and rapping, "Tap a keg and we'll drink
Two four-foot-high fake bongs graced the
corner of the stage and released smoke as another form of the straight-up
On The Cannabis Odyssey Stage, where between
the bands' sets activists spoke to the audience about the legalization
of marijuana for medicinal purposes and the injustice
done to those who get caught smoking in
the United States, several great bands played.
Four drew a large crowd as it jammed. Its
alternative-metal sound encompasses a wide-array of distinct vocal patterns
combined with furiously fast drumming, textured guitar riffs
and hard-hitting bass lines.
Superna, recently signed to SolarFlare
Records, also drew a massive audience. Melanie Brinks, the vocalist, has
a unique voice that is layered over the band's original rock
Prison Love Scene put on a great performance
on the Cannabis Odyssey Stage. The lead guitarist, Willie, truly knows
how to manipulate his instrument in a momentous way.
The hard-rock band combines a variety
of drum styles with a vocalist with an awesome sound and great energy.
Wet T-shirt contests for the girls and
Fine (Butt) contests for the guys also drew crowds of onlookers as the
contestants did all they could (and I mean all they could) to get the
loudest cheers in order to win.
The festival lacks what it used to have
in several areas. Dogs are no longer allowed at the festival and the eccentric
crowd that used to enjoy showing pride in its uniqueness has
diminished to almost none.
The festival is bringing a lot more families
to the enjoyment and taking away what made it known for so long. While
I do condemn the reasons for the street festival being moved,
and I am really upset about the complete
lack of everything I used to enjoy, the music made up for it all and my
time was more than enjoyable.
I do, however, wish they would not call
it Westheimer Street Festival in Exile at all anymore. The Allen Parkway
Festival is much more appropriate, seeing that the festival has
very few of the characteristics it has
been known for left in existence.