Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011
Auditorium Shores in Austin, TX
Fun Fun Fun Fest 6(66) brought us a changed festival. This was its first year at Auditorium Shores, and in its six short years it has garnered national attention, making it a larger festival than ever before. The last time I attended was in 2009 at Waterloo Park, and truly the growth was surprising. Auditorium Shores was a necessary change for the sheer number of people (read: Slayer fans), though it had some geographical problems. It’s not very close to the places they had the after shows, nor is it walking distance to cheaper bars and restaurants. Generally, the crowd seemed to be content hanging out in the vintage car lounge by the half-pipe and mechanical bull, despite the $9 beers.
Firstly, let me say that everyone who was there had dirt boogers for at least three days afterwards. Anyone who denies this is either a liar or used a Neti pot. Gross. And everyone within earshot of the Internet has heard about Danzig’s big rock star moment, so I’m not going to bore you with any of that. Instead, we’re going to talk about the great musicians.
Now, there are some major holes here because due to my job and traffic, so I got to Austin just in time on Friday to see Murder City Devils at 7pm. There were some brilliant acts that I missed, (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, The Thermals, CLOUD NOTHINGS and more) and regret that terribly. Biggest regret: not taking a picture with Blake Anderson of Workaholics.
Stand out sets from FFFFest 2011:
Murder City Devils: This was the first show of Seattle-based, halfway-reunited MCD that I’ve been able to see. And they were every bit as awesome as I hoped. It was pretty cold (Note: not cold enough for them to complain or demand French Onion soup) and these guys put on a crazy and entertaining show nonetheless. The crowd was getting really into it, but the pit was pretty rough. The dirt made it difficult to see and help back up anyone who’d fallen. The sound problems that plagued the weekend were first made evident at this show. Murder City Devils’ music features some raucous guitar parts and super-sexy bass lines that I had a hard time hearing over the keyboard. MCD frontman Spencer Moody told the crowd they’re releasing a new 7” soon – for which everyone should be pumped.
Dan Deacon: This guy is already famous for his crazy live shows in which he positions himself in the middle of the crowd, off of the stage, encouraging his fans to interact and dance- and his set delivered. Despite having to stop his set three different time due to sound equipment issues, the crowd was participating in his weird antics, dancing packed in around him and participating in his weird antics (kiss your hand, point to a star, get on one knee, “celebrate the individual”). Deacon’s brand of electronic music is perfect for large scale festivals because it’s so accessible, and is essentially a giant dance party.
Paint It Black: Dan Yemin (Lifetime, Kid Dynamite) is the heart and soul of Paint It Black. In this band, he acts as singer and frontman, guiding the political and social messages of their melodic hardcore songs. Their set lived up to their reputation: fast, fierce and political. Yemin took the time to speak about gender inequity within the punk community before they played fan-favorite Womb Envy. Yemin points out to the crowd that the “Black Stage” (where the bigger punk acts played all weekend) was almost completely male this year, and “fuck that”. Yemin says it’s not that there aren’t women in punk, there are- but there should be more, that punk is supposed to be radical and promote equality, but we create hostile environments that don’t encourage participation. The crowd here was the most active I saw all weekend, with a brutal pit that also helped the people who’d fallen back up (which I hadn’t really seen all weekend). It is said that Paint It Black is this generation’s Minor Threat, and I believe they’re right.
Hot Snakes: Playing opposite Lykke Li and Neon Indian can’t be easy- people love those musicians, and certainly there were people who paid for a $135 ticket to see them, but Hot Snakes kicked serious ass at the Black Stage. Hot Snakes blew away the audience with their garage-rock-meets-punk aesthetic. It was interesting to see them billed before The Damned, who played their 1977 classic punk music right after: kind of an abridged story of how far the music has come and how far it has to go.
Boris: FFFFest Nites is what organizers call the shows outside of the venue. They’re fantastic for people who don’t want to buy a day pass or a 3-day pass (which were expensive as shit this year). Boris played a “Nite” show at Red 7 with Russian Circles, and they sold out of their cash tickets before the festival had ended for the day, reaching capacity not long after. Boris brought their heavy, rhythmic metal-rock music to the packed house, and did not disappoint. They seemed gracious and thrilled to be playing to so many fans from all over the country. Honestly, I liked this set better than the one they played on Sunday at Auditorium Shores. Maybe that’s just because it was actually loud.
Nobunny: If you’re into campy, costumed vintage garage-punk, this band is a must-see. They played a super-fun set of old-school rock with eccentric frontman Justin Champlin in a bunny mask and whitey-tighties. Nobunny is currently touring in support of their new album, Raw Romance. For a weird, high-energy show, check out Nobunny.
Blonde Redhead: Let me preface this with an admission- 16-year-old-me was very, very excited to see Blonde Redhead, and it was everything I came to see. Blonde Redhead played their sexy, melodic electronic music that ranges from quiet and demure to loud, bass-heavy punk riffs. They played fan favorites from a number of their records, including “Falling Man” from Misery is a Butterfly (yeah, my inner teenager nearly died). Their onstage presence is fantastic, and the band members have great chemistry. I guess that comes with their eighteen years of working together. I skipped Slayer to see them (I know… sue me.) and their set was a fantastic way to round out my Fun Fun Fun Fest weekend.