This weekend, the inaugural In Bloom Music Festival kicked off in Eleanor Tinsley Park with headliners such as Beck, Incubus and Martin Garrix. After a disastrous flood led to the cancellations of Free Press Summer Fest performances last year, C3 Concerts officially closed down the June festival and replaced it with In Bloom. The festival featured four stages spread out in Eleanor Tinsley Park, with highways overhead, the skyline in clear sight and the bayou within smelling distance.
The theme itself single-handedly brought back flower crowns and floral wear as thousands of festival-goers took advantage of the mild heat and clear skies to dress their festival best. Vibes were nice throughout the day, and the lineup featured a good amount of local Houston music. Still, lackluster headliners and poor marketing meant much smaller crowds at each act — which may or may not be a good thing, depending on what you prioritize in a music festival.
Mixed music genres bring mixed performances
The lineup of In Bloom seemed haphazard, with older stars like Queens of the Stone Age jumbled together with rising hip-hop talents like Lil Uzi Vert. While it was hard to pinpoint the average age of the festival-goers, it was easy to spot the 14-year-olds at Lil Uzi’s show.
Despite his prepubescent audience, Lil Uzi put on a high energy and rebellious show. He bounced around the massive Bud Light stage so fast that photographers scrambled to up their shutter speed. At times sassy and confident, Lil Uzi balanced his darker and more ominous songs with hits like “I Do What I Want.”
On the other side of the spectrum was 21 Savage, whose performance near put me to sleep. Savage sounded like he was reading his own lyrics off of a sheet, and stood so far back from the edge of the stage that festival-goers on the barricade had to strain their necks to see him.
Similarly, while Broods effortlessly blended her vocals with an excited performance featuring hair-flipping, Cigarettes after Sex stood still during their somber set. Backlit by only monochromatic lights, Cigarettes after Sex crooned melodies as if they were playing at a funeral.
Rock was the one genre that stood out as solid all around. Performances from headliners Incubus and Queens of the Stone Age featured aggressive head-banging, beautifully loud instrumentals and all-around intense energy. Even as I feared getting kicked in the face by QotSA, I admittedly jammed along to both headliners.
In Bloom copies ACL a little too well
In addition to the former Free Press Summer Fest and In Bloom, C3 Concerts also sponsors Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza and other massive music festivals. That well-oiled festival machine was evident as acts started exactly on time, port-a-potties had short lines and food was delicious and relatively affordable. The only difference between In Bloom and ACL besides the lineup was the color of the wristbands. In Bloom featured a large floral set-up for Instagram pictures, quite like ACL’s famous frame, as well as the same sponsors, audience and scheduling. In comparison to Houston-based festival Day for Night, which features art exhibitions in addition to a diverse electronic music lineup, In Bloom seemed generic.
Before C3 Concerts took over, Free Press Houston prioritized bringing the spotlight to Houston artists. FPH now runs Day for Night. While they were on the lineup, Houston artists were neither featured nor promoted – instead, they seemed to function as a cursory salute to the city. Indeed, festival-goers did not come in droves until around 5 or 6 p.m., when more nationally recognized names began to play their sets.
Pricing and location inspire hope for the future
Despite a few flaws in the festival, In Bloom has the potential to become a staple go-to event in the spring. Nested nicely into Eleanor Tinsley, the festival has already drawn the attention of festival-goers from all ages. In addition, the tickets this year were absurdly cheap, going at an early-bird price of $55 plus fees for a two-day pass. In the upcoming years, the festival will hopefully stay affordable and draw larger crowds to see local bands and better headliners.
(I also personally hope that it doesn’t fall on Beer Bike weekend again, because that rally was a difficult one.)