Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Daniel Johnston

True love will find you in the end

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: Daniel Johnston
by Gary Miller

A Daniel Johnston show remains a tenuous endeavor, even as the troubled Texas pop icon has made a successful performing comeback over the past decade. Headlining the Yellow stage on Sunday to a packed tent, he offered flashes of raw brilliance and precarious unsteadiness.

Johnston emerged uneasily, wearing a sport coat over his familiar T-shirt and sweatpants, and opening with new song “Mask” from last year’s Space Ducks LP. His backing quintet, which numbered four members of Brownout including Space Ducks producer Adrian Quesada, initially had trouble syncing with the singer as he slurred through the read lyrics in front of him.

Fortunately, “Speeding Motorcycle,” “Walking the Cow,” and a stripped down “Mountain Top” provided more secure footing, with Johnston demonstrating some vocal range. Covering the Beatles, “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” fell uneven between the stumbled verses and poignant, crowd-backed chorus, and ended abruptly. Space Ducks’ “Mean Girls Give Pleasure” fit well with Johnston’s more familiar material.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll/EGA” provided a set highlight when the song turned into a howling rant with backing power to match. Likewise, “True Love Will Find You in the End” trembled with a beautiful emotional power.

“Here’s a special song for any of you that feel like you’re going to die,” offered Johnston before launching into “Funeral Home.” The final round of “Devil Town,” sung a cappella with the entire crowd joining, offered one of the festival’s most extraordinary moments.

Though Johnston left quickly after only 30 minutes and 10 songs, the crowd cheered for more until the lights and house music came up. No one left disappointed.

For more Fun Fun Fun Fest coverage, see For photo galleries from the fest, see

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Fun Fun Fun Fest
Fun Fun Fun Comedy: Your Lineup Is...
Fun Fun Fun Comedy: Your Lineup Is...
For the 10th fest, "FFF" can stand for "familiar funny folk"

Robert Faires, July 28, 2015

Fun Fun Fun Live Shot: Wiz Khalifa
Fun Fun Fun Live Shot: Wiz Khalifa
Trust your mofo MC

Nina Hernandez, Nov. 10, 2014

More Daniel Johnston
Austin Songwriting Genius Daniel Johnston Dead at 58
Austin Songwriting Genius Daniel Johnston Dead at 58
Eccentric singer-songwriter reportedly died of heart attack

Kevin Curtin, Sept. 11, 2019

Thai, How Are You?
Thai, How Are You?
Landmark Daniel Johnston mural gets a touch-up

Chase Hoffberger, Aug. 28, 2013

More by Doug Freeman
ACL Live Review: Ley Line
Ley Line
Locals stand out among homegrown early festival sets

Oct. 14, 2019

ACL Live Review: Yola
Like Lizzo, UK singer circles back from SXSW as a powerhouse

Oct. 14, 2019


Fun Fun Fun Fest, Daniel Johnston, Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013, Beatles, Brownout, Adrian Quesada

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle