Love Street Music Fest 2019

Love Street Music festival is very much like your favorite neighbor’s annual block party. It’s a perfect, laid-back summer afternoon; puffy white clouds dot the endless blue skies. It’s just warm enough that you remember to slather on some sunscreen. You head down the block for the party; picnic blanket and snack cooler in one hand, pup’s leash in the other. Your favorite neighbor also happens to be your cool friend that knows all the cool people. They’ve invited some of your favorite bands to their block party. You show up to discover a nice little stage setup and get excited for the music. They greet you enthusiastically – it’s a warm welcome as you walk into their backyard picnic area. They’ve even thought to invite some tasty food trucks. And their artsy friends are there, too. They’ve set up little tables and tents to show off their talents and a few brought their new puppies, just in case you needed any more reason to go and chat with them (Spoiler: you don’t – their art is amazing). This block party friend also happens to be that cherished buddy who’s known for legendary batches of seasonal craft beer. They make sure you grab one from the cooler as soon as you walk in the door.

A tribute to Allen’s Landings’ Love Street of the 60’s; “Love Street was not only a place, but a state of mind. A place to unwind and let the music refresh your soul.” This year marks the third annual homage to Love Street with a weekend celebration of great music and even greater beer. It’s the pinnacle of several music-related events, concerts and showcases held every year at the Karbach brewery in Houston. Their invite aptly announces; “It’s going to be a great day for a little music to your beer!”

We settle at a picnic table in the sun as new friends arrive. A Karbach staffer across the yard hands out Love Street logo-emblazoned straw hats to anyone who might like a little extra shade. I grab one, since remembering to bring a hat is never my forte. The block party gets started.​ Kicking off the early afternoon is a set by Texican, the Tejano DJ sporting a Hella Chella michelada and a newbie-nervous air. It vanishes as he launches enthusiastically into his upbeat DJ set. He’s made friends with a bartender in each corner, who obliges his enthusiasm by ensuring his cup never runeth empty. A nice little crowd fills in. Moving to the main stage for set two, we catch Lovelytheband’s unforgettable flavor of indie pop. It’s an impressively large and energetic crowd for so early in the day. Scheduling genius, Team Karbach! I tear myself away to spend a few minutes perusing art tents, clothing and vendors. My absolute favorite is the pop art that took front and center in the main courtyard. I very nearly almost buy myself some nerd-tastic pop art Star Wars swag, because everyone needs more Star Wars pop art in their life. 

The block party is in full swing by the time we slip back over to Stage B. A quick detour to try the newest summer beer, Tasty Waves (holy sh*t, it’s good), and then sample the charming indie rock of Houston locals, VODI. By now the lawn is full; picnic blankets spread out with neighborhood friends enjoying burgers, tacos and shaved ice from the food trucks and a rainbow of incredible beer options. As VODI’s last song rings out, we join the pack of fans heading for the big stage. It’s time for the irrefutable kings of Texan grunge rock, The Toadies. A brief introduction and the joyous proclamation; “We’ve been trying to book these guys for five years. Finally, beers up, folks – here they are!”

A rowdy cheer rings out. Our boys hit the stage, welcomed by thousands of beers in the air. ​A predictably perfect set of their best hits. It’s no surprise to see everyone packed in front of the stage, grooving along with The Toadies. The rest of the grounds are devoid of attendees. We all love every minute of the set. Karbach did well to incorporate them on this lineup, very well indeed.

I take another quick break to sample the Cherry Limeade radler. An interesting one; sweet, but not overwhelming. Next up, Slenderbodies give us an alt/indie respite from the heat of Stage A as the sun begins to sink lower in the sky. It’s the perfect time to bask in the late afternoon sun on the lawn, making friends with fellow festival-goers and their many friendly canine friends. There are folks from all walks of life here; all ages, and even a number of people who came from out of town. But it’s the doggos that make the biggest impact, if I can be completely honest. I am absolutely that person that meets the dogs and forgets the owners’ names in minutes. By the end of the Slenderbodies set, I was comfortably set with a sweet Heeler friend resting his chin on my feet, a cool Hopadillo (not for you, doggo), and sharing the occasional bite of my Frito Pie with my new friend. He wasn’t complaining, and neither was I.

It was heartbreak to get up, but it was time for Bishop Briggs on the main stage. And what sensible person would be late for Miss Briggs? We’d seen her just two months prior at SXSW in Austin and it was an incredible show. I’m still pinching myself over the chance to attend her private acoustic set. On the bigger stage at Karbach, Bishop’s energy is somehow impossibly magnified. She danced, sprinted, jumped from stage right to stage left. And she didn’t miss a beat, managing, on top of it, impressively and powerfully perfect vocals. The audience is both mesmerized and energized as she charges through a set with perfect pitch and her characteristic humbly-bubbly, larger-than-life charisma. She is an incredible artist. Once again; well done, Karbach!

The band Wrestlers provided us with one final small-stage evening break before our big headliners, during which many folk headed for the busy food truck area. It got crazy back there and I heard of long waits for food. But we were lucky, since we’d ravaged the food truck offerings early in the day (admittedly, my inner fat kid was impatient to check out the cuisine). By sunset, we are all back in the main stage area. I’m armed with a tasty Love Street brew in hand, waiting enthusiastically for our colorful headliners.

Arguably a bigger band than this stage had ever seen before, the crowd loses their minds with the arrival of Walk the Moon. Striped white face paint in place and signature dance moves aplenty, they hit us with hit after hit. The crowd cannot stand still. The dancing is copious – from seniors to teens. Walk the Moon’s only crime is to pump out the catchiest, most ridiculously upbeat rock. They mercilessly inflicted it upon us, without respite, for a gleefully perfect hour-and-a-half evening set. With a perfectly setting sun behind the main stage, the stage lights take over to illuminate the last few songs of an incredible set. 

Karbach has outdone themselves in 2019. For anyone who’d attended the previous year, you’d eagerly attest to a vastly improved weather situation. Hurricane-strength thunderstorms, sheltering under stages ankle-deep in water will make you appreciate nice festival weather when you see it. The afternoon gifted us with puffy clouds, scenic sunsets, and a slight breeze just when it started to warm a little too much.

I heard a few complain about the heat and a humidity… to which my only possible reply is: “Really? Did you not notice we’re in Houston?” It was truly flawless. The staff and bartenders were friendly and chatty. It was an even bigger surprise to be handed a bottle of water by a passing staffer, manning a wagon full of complimentary ice cold waters. A nice touch that certainly didn’t go unnoticed. What an incredible day.

Karbach is clearly the craft-beer cool kid on the block; their annual Love Street blowout has become Houston’s new can’t-miss block party. 2019’s event proves their prowess in the summer festival realm. It’s a laid-back afternoon in the sun with a few thousand awesome friends, great music and your favorite cold beer to wash it down. 

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