Tuesday, November 8th 2011
Shows: Fun Fun Fun Fest
Goddamnit Austin, you’re just too good.
An ideal pre-winter send-off from the outdoor festivals of the warmer months, Fun Fun Fun Fest is the perfect musical answer to the Autumn blues – with a lineup original enough to make the big-box festivals throw some serious side-eye. Sets from Slayer, Public Enemy, Russian Circles, Henry Rollins, Hum, M83, Del The Funky Homosapien, Four Tet, Black Joe Lewis, and many others drew crowds upwards of 15,000 each day to Auditorium Shores last weekend for the unique event, as well as a hearty selection of comedy and ladies wrestling.
That’s right, ladies wrestling.
Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 was a controversial yet accomplished musical experience off the beaten path of the Summer’s ubiquitous cookie-cutter lineups. Aside from the troll-tantrum antics of Danzig and the typical flagrant dickery of Odd Future, the dust-blown three-day event was full of performances that made the long-weekend trip to Texas well worth it.
Having stepped up their game this year with a larger venue and bigger names, FFFFest has become the number three destination music festival in the very musically oriented Austin – after SXSW and Austin City Limits, of course. Between the event’s streaming by Pitchfork to the massive amount of publicity brought on by the Danzig debacle, the festival certainly has reached a new height of awareness.
Bandanas were a hot commodity once the winds picked up and the dusty grounds of the venue took to the air. But aside from a few moments of gale-force winds and lackluster performances (Danzig’s diva breakdown was priceless), fun was most definitely had down in Austin.
Danzig’s triple-play set at this weekend’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin was truncated Friday night due to the city’s curfew. The performance was billed as Danzig Legacy, a semi-reunion between the ex-Misfits and Samhain rocker and token members of such, but when the scheduled 8:15 p.m. start time came and went, trouble began.
Nearly 45 minutes passed before Danzig finally appeared onstage, due to what he allegedly claimed it was too cold and he had a cough. The promoters are alleging that Glenn demanded vitamins, French onion soup and a Wendy’s chicken sandwich, and insisted on having stage heaters and an on-site doctor before performing.
The delayed set began to run its course (which was intended to consist of over 30 songs), but at 10 p.m, with only two Misfits songs performed (“Death Comes Ripping” and “Vampira”), Auditorium Shores adhered to rules dictating that the music be cut off. Danzig took aim at the Fun Fun Fun Fest organizers, attempting to incite the crowd: “I guess they’ve never heard of a thing called a riot before.” We have, sir, and tone-deaf over the hill trolls like you aint worth it.
Needless to say, the crowd simply waited for him to leave, many throwing well-deserved profanities and slurs in his direction as he stood onstage in defiant silence.
M83′s hypnotic wobble-synth electronics didn’t quite translate as well in a live setting as one might hope. The entirety of the festival seemed to dissolve into a dance party nonetheless, until Lykke Li came along and bummed everyone out. That girl has got to stop playing festivals if she insists on playing so much downer material.
Del The Funky Homosapien, a longtime frequenter of side stages and awkward set times, delivered a headliner-strength performance that touched on a bit of Hieroglyphics material while dancing through his highest marks on record. “Mistadobalina” was, of course, a power-punch singalong.
Spoon delivered a strong performance on Saturday night, opening with “Take a Walk” and “Written In Reverse” and on through the crowd-favorite “I Turn My Camera On”. A mini encore set included “The Beast and Dragon, Adored,” as well as an abrasive “My Mathematical Mind,” which sent fans off on a good note to check out The Damned before heading out for the night.
Poking fun at the previous night’s closer on the same stage (Danzig), classic British punkers The Damned were dressed to the nines and in upbeat spirits as they ripped through a set that few of the youngsters in the crowd were familiar with. Most were good sports nonetheless, feeding off of frontman Dave Vanian’s energy.
Sunday was a windswept and thus fast and loose day of music, with Le Butcherettes spaz-rocking their way into deserved recognition before Asobi Seksu took command of the Orange Stage with precisely the kind of powerfully balanced rock and beauty the festival needed to energize those rediscovering their Summer festival muscles.
Reggie Watts delivered a set that eclipsed – by far – every other act in the Yellow tent, making the most delightfully hilarious sonic magic with two-turntables & a loop pedal. If you’ve never seen this spastic enigma, find him immediately. Live performance is strongly recommended for first impressions.
With punk icon, former Black Flag frontman and spoken word performer Henry Rollins playing pastor, the nuptials of Dallas-area residents and Fun Fun Fun Fest attendees Steven Hart and Page King took place on Sunday afternoon, after a highly impressive ladies’ wrestling match in the Anarchy Championship Wrestling challenge.
A full-scale wrestling ring was erected near the main entrance to the festival grounds, and the nimble-bodied women made mincemeat of one another with high-flying acrobatic moves that reminded me of the days of G.L.O.W. Look it up, kids. Get your minds blown.
After a great set from Hum (though the vocals were too low), we headed to the Yellow tent so catch an enriching, story-filled and humorous yet relatively mild (despite what you see above) spoken word set from Henry Rollins. After being regaled with perspective-pumping tales of feasting on rats with SouthEast Asian countrymen and given just a dose (not enough, in our opinion) of sociopolitical vitriol, tens of thousands shifted their attention to the thunderous pummeling of Slayer.
The mosh pit was a brawling, churning monster before a single word was sung, and when the band opened with “World Painted Blood,” it was as if the entire audience were electrocuted.
Thrashing bodies and banging heads were all the eyes could see as Slayer ripped through “Hate Worldwide,” “Psychopathy Red” and, of course, the brutal “Raining Blood”. With nary a word of between-song banter (aside from frontman Tom Araya asking if everyone was having “Fun Fun Fun?”), the band bounded through their considerably deep and legendary catalogue, leading to the set closer “Angel of Death,” which was downright devastating.
The weather’s cooling off, but in Austin you can still catch a bit of that Summer sensation in the first week of November at Auditorium Shores.