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Twinkies, Twerking, & Paraplegic Crowd Surfing

Fun Fun Fun Fest 8 – wrapped

Reviewed by Kevin Curtin, Fri., Nov. 15, 2013

Playback: Twinkies, Twerking, and Paraplegic Crowd Surfing
Photo by John Leach

Fun Fun Fun began Thursday night in the Red River District, an obvious starting line for a festival created by Red River booking sage Graham Williams and Mohawk owner James Moody. Wristbands were dealt at Holy Mountain while neighboring Red 7 exploded with the atomic energy of Austin's OBN III's. Frontman Orville Neeley displayed Iggy Pop-like volatility in chasing down a terrified concertgoer who had yanked up the projector screen he was hiding behind.

"You motherfucker!" he yelled, before dumping a beer on the kid. "That was going to be magnificent!"

At Auditorium Shores the next day, Patton Oswalt endlessly berated and sang along with the "jam band" whose sound bled into the comedy tent, only later realizing the source.

"Wait, is that Kurt Vile? Fuck! I like Kurt Vile!" he exclaimed. "It sounds like Kurt's singing through tie-dye while standing in soy milk."

As the sun set Friday, NOLA bounce queen Big Freedia orchestrated generous onstage ass jigglin' and elicited mass twerking amongst the largest audience the gender-bending performer has drawn in her three FFF appearances. Chicago MC Lupe Fiasco followed with a harsher vibe, upset over stage management and crowd response, and dropped the mic 20 minutes early. On the Black stage, Black Flag ex-pats Flag proved better than Taylor-dweller Greg Ginn's competing reunion act, which debuted locally in May.

Afterward, I dashed over to the Orange stage in time to see Snoop Dogg's furry mascot pop a three-foot neon green boner. During the Long Beach rapper's epic sing-along of "Young, Wild, & Free," the main speakers cut out and left Snoop dancing in apparent silence. The sound engineers had a simple answer.

"The city has a strict 10pm curfew," one replied. "His monitors are still on so he has no idea."

Hundreds swarmed the Black stage early Saturday to glimpse Brooklyn's kiddie metalheads Unlocking the Truth, whose intrigue begins and ends with the fact that they're prepubescent African-Americans. Real metal happened an hour earlier with Houston heavies Venomous Maximus. Unreasonably low vocal volume on that stage ruined a few daytime sets, including Retox, but Japan noise terrorists Melt-Banana's preprogrammed sonic assault prevailed.

Fans packing the comedy tent in anticipation of Tenacious D caused security to bar entry several hours in advance, all the more people to watch reformed Seventies artrockers Television deliver a short, soft-volume set on the nearby Orange stage. Afterward, across the park, a line of yellow caution tape signaled the lawlessness of Ice-T and guitarist Ernie C's thrash metal band Body Count.

"This whole thing started in your shitty ass town when your local fraternal order of police tried to stop Body Count," announced the rapper, referring to the band's Back Room performance in 1993. "I hope those cops are outside. They can eat a hot bowl of dicks."

Thus, they closed with "Cop Killer," assisted with an off-time chant from Geto Boy Bushwick Bill, who stuck around to guest star on Ice-T's original gangstar set later.

Big Freedia
Big Freedia
Photo by Gary Miller

Descendents played better than three years ago when they filled in for Devo at FFF5, career biologist Milo Aukerman looking far more comfortable in his punk-rock-singer side job and the band fielding a deeper set list. Their performance brought out budding FFF8 legend "crowd-surfing-wheelchair-guy."

Pushing through the masses to see avant-pop rapper M.I.A., who performed under massive Lite-Brite doilies, I thought a contagious face rash had broken out until it was explained that she had thrown out packets of purple dye, which fans showered each other in.

Sunday, Chaos in Tejas standouts the Men defied the sun early with a raging rock set that made the case for a better set time at a future FFF Fest. Sick of complimentary Twinkies (FFF's most visible sponsor), I followed the Taco Cannon hoping for free lunch. Nearby, prog-metal speedsters Immortal Guardian played on a sled being pulled by a truck. Soon, Action Bronson sub Killer Mike tried to rap from a half-pipe and was derailed by technical difficulties.

"I'm a big guy and I'm high up in the air," he offered. "It was a feat just to get me up here."

The Blue stage was magnetic on FFF's final day, from an incredible performance by Deltron 3030 – with Kid Koala on the mixer and Dan the Automator conducting an orchestra – to UK producer Bonobo grooving with unfolding live electronica, and hip-hop purists Jurassic 5 bringing it back to the elemental forces of rhyming and scratching records.

I saved the last dance for legendary thrash metal quartet Slayer, whose battering ram of chugs, squeals, and apocalyptic battle cries never disappoints. As they said goodbye to dearly departed axeman Jeff Hanneman with closer "Angel of Death," I noticed that the owl face of the Frost Bank Tower was visible though the upside-down crosses and smoke filling the stage.

The cityscape backdrop made me wonder what Auditorium Shores will look like next year after it's renovated and if Fun Fun Fun Fest will even be there. Wherever it is, I'm there.

Half Notes

Formula One returns to Austin this weekend and with it comes musical entertainment aimed at the F1 attendees, notably adult-contemporary superman Sting, whose performance at the Moody Theater on Saturday sold out at a hefty $250-750 per seat. Tickets for Friday's Best of Texas show and Sunday's Awolnation concert are still available at the same venue. Meanwhile, free stages downtown host a goofy lineup including Los Lobos, Berlin, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, and Everlast. See Music Listings for the complete schedule.

› As is the local promotions way, no sooner had Austin's last music festival of 2013 ended than another, the Old Settler's Music Festival, announced on Tuesday initial names for its 27th installment. Dr. Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Shovels & Rope, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, North Mississippi Allstars, Donna the Buffalo, John Fullbright, and Bob Schneider take over the Salt Lick Pavilion April 10-13, 2014. Tickets on sale Friday.

› Arriving Wednesday as the Chronicle neared deadline, a press release announced the sale of Antone's. "The new owners, two partnerships known as Gin & Pentatonic and Blues Scalable, are a team of investors led by well-known scientist and explorer Dr. Spencer Wells." Frank Hendrix, the former Emo's owner who took over the now-East Riverside club in 2010, announced the club's sale in the Chronicle in September.

Grindhouse Productions, tenants of the former Emo's at 603 Red River, had their custom Bassmaxx PA system vanish the week of Halloween, causing them to cancel Ying Yang Twins and all subsequent concerts. They're offering $1,000 for information leading to the loudspeaker's return. Email grindhouse.hs@gmail.com.

› Local luthiers Moniker are making their guitars works of art by providing unfinished axes for 10 artists to design and display at the EAST studio tour this weekend, including Bob Schneider at Flatbed Press. All the instruments will later be auctioned to benefit the Austin Music Foundation. In other EAST news, local artist Mark Goodman displays his photo book Big Boys Dicks, which documents our Eighties punk scene for Wildfire Studio at Canopy (916 Springdale) Saturday and Sunday.

› The Peenbeets, stars of a fictional sitcom who delighted real-life audiences with their weirdo pop from 1993 until 2002 when they released The Peenbeets Get Cancelled, reunite for the first time in over a decade this Saturday at Hole in the Wall.

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