FESTIVAL REVIEW: HOUSTON OPEN AIR 2016 Live at NRG Park, Houston, TX
Texas has seen its fair share of metal festivals over the few years. Austin and Dallas have both been home to large gatherings of masses for metal. It was Houston’s moment to shine and it almost became a behemoth.
I arrived in Houston on September 24th and made my way to the grounds at NRG Park. The venue was huge and the crowds were steadily increasing. My first attraction was Chevy Metal featuring Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) on drums and vocals, bassist Wiley Hodgden along with several different guitarist including Mick Murphy. They are the ultimate cover band, playing songs from artists like Van Halen, The Stones, Tom Petty & Billy Joel. In fact, you name any classic 80’s band and they were covering a song by them. They put on an amazing show with crowds’ air guitaring, singing along and triumphantly throwing their fists in the air.
Chevy Metal finished their set and I headed to Monster Energy Discovery Stage to see The Cult for the very first time. I did not what to expect, but the two folks in front of me said I’m in for a ride. They are a British Hard Rock band from Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. They’ve been around since the 1980s and have been widely influential on the post-punk/gothic rock movement. Their set consisted of songs like “Wild Flower”, “The Phoenix”, “Deeply Ordered Chaos” and “Love Removal Machine”. The song “Rise” stood out for me. Ian Astrbury commanded the crowds really well and had an enigma to him. To rival his on stage majesty, was Billy Duffy on the guitar, shredding and rocking out in equal measure.
Next to the Monster Energy Discovery Stage, was Bud Light Endeavour Stage. The stage went bright red and the everything erupted. It was Slayer! The twelve-year-old me was freaking out. I was finally witnessing the band I admired since a long time. They played hits like “War Ensemble”, “Seasons in the Abyss”, “South of Heaven” and “Hate Worldwide”. I was awestruck and could not believe what I was watching. The last three songs were a sheer treat to my eyes and ears and I could not contain myself. “Hell Awaits”, “Raining Blood” and “Angel of Death” saw me lose myself in the moshpit. It was sheer awesomeness!
Somehow, I managed to gather myself and headed back to the Monster Energy Discovery Stage for the main attraction of the evening. Alice in Chains took the stage with William DuValllighting the stage with “Hollow”. The mood was electric. Then they played “Them Bones”, which reminded me of my friends and I from school, walking back home singing the chorus to this song. The set was rather short but a memorable one. They played hits like “Rooster”, “Man in the Box” and “Would?” among others. Everyone around me was singling along and having the time of their life. There was no doubt in Jerry Cantrell’s writing prowess.
The show was very well organized with excellent food and sanitation services. The crew and concert security was very kind and understanding of the audience and safety concerns were well addressed. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with the proceedings and it due to heavy rains and warnings of severe thunderstorms, first half of Day 1 and the entirety of Day 2 was cancelled. There was some bitterness in the audience but the concert organizers handled everything professionally and have set up a refund service for everyone who bought a ticket and missed out on all the amazing bands from Day 2. I am pretty sure though, that next year it is going to be bigger and better.