Fun Fun Fun Fest is a festival scientifically proven to be the most fun fest ever by Bill Nye himself. It’s a festival with the aesthetic of a semi-grown up playground where the semi-grown ups are the former trouble making kids. The weirdos, the ones who rocked metal t-shirts and smoked weed behind the stadium. Although for national press Fun Fun is just the festival who didn’t have Florence and the Machine this year and the ACL wannabe. For locals, Fun Fun could be described as something more of an institution. People have been sneaking in for years now trying to catch Snoop Dog, MIA, Yeasayer and many other great acts that the average basic Austin community would not really be interested in. At the end of the day, Austin is weird, right, so why not have a festival embracing just that? Fun Fun has Photo Booths inside portal potties, midget wrestling matches, a taco cannon, and this year you can add Eric Andre’s dick to the equation. Given the comedian stripped down for a Penis Tuck at the end of his set and for some of us standing at the right angle (left side stage), sadly got to catch a glimpse of the odd fella’s genitalia. But it’s all for fun and games. Fun Fun is known to bring that raunchiness to the Austin masses.Yes, it is about the music, but it’s also about the experience in between the music. They care about their product because they have to spend 365 days planning every aspect of it. Every installation, every activity or hang out spot was placed there very strategically and they want you to see it all, they don’t want you to miss it. They are like that one friend who would invite you to their house after Thanksgiving with the sole purpose of showing off all of the cool gadgets that he got on Black Friday But it’s suddenly not annoying because you actually think it is fucking cool and low key, you actually wanna try the new Dance Revolution.
This year, the conductors of Transmission Events celebrated the 10th year of the festival and what better way to celebrate a decade by then reminding us that we are also old and have multiple decades under our belt. This was shown with the comeback of some old school icons like Lauryn Hill, WuTang Clan and American Football. The Clan, headlining Night 2, definitely raised the expectations for all Hip-Hop acts. However, Rae Sremmurd did not seem to be intimidated at all. Rae Sremmurd’s stage performance was the most energetic thing I had seen all weekend. It was like witnessing two energizer bunnies bouncing around the stage back and forth, regenerating energy in the form of thrusting motions…a lot of trusting motions. These guys humped their entire set, but given how sexual and cynical their music is, it was something of an invitation to the public to let go. They played the hits and more, one shirtless, one overdressed, one crowd diving the other danced King Kuta style on stage but both with a glare of carelessness.
It was not the same story for Schoolboy Q, who was feeling ill due to the Texas weather. Low energy and very little interaction with the crowd really left us with a lot of disappointment. The little interaction he had with his fans sounded very apologetic for the inconsistency of his set, yet thankful that we were understanding. I’m not mad about it, we all have our bad days and the rapper admitted fault. Listening to ‘Collard Greens’ ‘Studio’ ‘Hands on the Wheel’ got the job done all right and with the help from a few Kendrick songs, it was a good set. In a way, the real fans of Schoolboy felt appreciative that the rapper did not throw in the towel.
Neon Indian was really the comeback of the night. Mainly because he’s been out of the loop for a bit too long and people don’t have any clear expectations of what his shows are like nowadays. He provided the most contagious moves and his sound impressed more then a few. We got a chance to talk to Alan Palomo about ‘VEVEGA INTL. Night School’, the evolution of his music and his interest on 80’s film. But you will have to wait till our next issue for that.
Photo by Becca Morris
I will admit, I came into this fest with a pre-notion that Grimes’ new music didn’t really impressed me on the first listen. It took a drive to Austin,TX and a few Shiner Cheer’s to discover what a giant of now day music that she is. On record, “Flesh without Blood” sounded like a teen-like, self-inflicting electro-pop that didn’t appeal to anyone over the age of 17. But live, that same sound suddenly evolved into an eclectic industrial pop sound that hit so heavy and hard, that every single doubtful thought that I had about Grimes was instantly shoved down my throat and left me speechless for most of the set.I mean, not in a thousand years would I have thought that I’d get a better electronic performance from Grimes than Hudston Mowake, who’s set was 60% build ups with weak resolution. Songs like ‘Screams’ and ‘Realiti’ were part of the new material that marked the set. One felt very aggressive with her dancers stepping to the edge of the stage and screaming at the top of their lungs while white fog and a single light shined on their backs. It was a very spooky scenery. The other had a very mature, feel-good melody; the kind that was perfect for a rainy day off.
On stage, I encountered an artist so in sync with her own art that every movement, every switch, every sample and every note on her keyboard felt structured so perfectly that it made beautiful sounds. It was heartfelt, light hearted, and energetic.
Watching Grimes on stage is the ultimate mind-fucking existential crisis. Why hasn’t humanity evolved into a bunch of little Grimes yet? Is this what the future sounds like? Will Aliens like us now?
After she worked on this album for so long, I could sense an unsatisfied hunger to prove something; to transcend and showcase the evolution of an artist. Catch her sets while they last.
From futuristic sounds to the root of all meaningful sounds, soul. Lauryn Hill stepped in last minute after DiAngelo cancelled due to illness. In a personal tone, I am more familiar with the work of Ms. Hill so I was very static of the change. In a very intimate acoustic stage design, she sat on a very small couch surrounded by pillows and candles. For a festival setting, it really didn’t make much sense. But it was an acoustic set and she was comfortable with absolutely shredding that guitar. Things didn’t picked up until a few songs after, but when they picked up, it was unstoppable. She played some of her most legendary hits as well as a tribute to Ms. Nina Simone from the soundtrack of the Netflix Original and some Bob Marley tunes. Towards the end of her set, most songs were performed in a Reggae style with beautifully orchestrated direction by Ms. Hill herself. This was her set, her music, and she micromanaged every aspect of it. Some might call it dramatic, I call it perfection. Even on the spontaneous riffs, she managed to get her band on board even when she felt a need to prolong a chorus or a vocal run. As a musician, being able to establish such clear and cut throat communication with your band members must be such an adrenaline rush. Regardless, the soulful artist delivered a mind blowing performance that some of us had never experienced before. Some may have not had the chance to see Ms. Hill do her thing before and if Fun Fun was your first, it was defiantly a good one.
Photo by: Dave Mead @dave.mead
Photo by: Jackie Young @jackieleeyoung
Photo by: Dave Mead @dave.mead
Other highlights of the fest was the melancholic return of American Football to the bigger stages, making a few feel a type of way reminiscing the HS Punk days.
Big Freedia made white people twerk, and thanks to the free Cafe Bustelo espresso even I had the energy and the need to show off some moves. It was fun, it was inviting and non-judgmental. It was bounce music and you can’t just not bounce.
Title Fight was actually the longest line we saw for the late nite shows, the guys went on at midnight and all madness lasted till 2am. Our photographer Shane McCormick got caught in between the madness and got some sweet shots. More on this fest to be featured on our next issue with exclusive shots and portraits of our favorite acts.
Also shout out to the guy show pissed in the Shitty Photo Booth… you will be forever shamed by this image.
All photos by Shane McCormick unless specified otherwise. @ShaneMcCormikk
While you are here. Check out the dope portraits we got at the fest.