Fun Fun Fun Fest: The antithesis for the loud, overcrowded fests
November 23th, 2015. Eric Brian Stevens – Austin, Texas, the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World”, is no stranger to music festivals. Every year, the city plays host to thousands of musicians and artists from all around the globe, at a variety of festivals. Some of these have begun to feel too overcrowded, with loud corporate sponsorships and distant stage performances that lack intimate connection. Fun Fun Fun Fest is the antithesis to all of that noise, and creates its own unique atmosphere. This year was the 10th anniversary for Fun Fun. Even Bill Nye, the Science Guy scientifically verified it to be “the funnest festival on the face of the Earth”. (Pictured above is a FFF port-a-potty lifted in the sky from a crane, because why not?)
Every year Auditorium Shores, a central Austin park on the shores of Lady Bird Lake, transforms for Fun Fun Fun (As much fun as saying ‘Fun Fun Fun’ is, it’s abbreviated—FFF). 3 Stages and a tent pop up, and the grounds are filled with amazing vendors, food, a Volcom skate park, a wrestling ring, and even an official make out zone. Oh, and lots of tacos! There are tacos everywhere, even a taco cannon that shoots into the crowds. The tacos are the most important part, to be honest. The stages are divided by genre into the Black Stage (Metal/Punk—it’s pretty much a requirement to be wearing all black while at this stage or something denim/studded. Put on your creepers and dye your hair lime green. You’re set.), the Blue Stage (Hip-Hop/Electronic—there weren’t a whole lot of great electronic acts this year), the Orange Stage (Indie/Alternative—songs to get stoned to in the daytime and watch the sunset), and the Yellow Tent (Comedy).
There really aren’t any other festivals like FFF. You can be watching Doug Benson make jokes about his highly inappropriate pick-up line mishaps at the Yellow Tent, then walk over to see Ryan Sheckler on the ramps, then see the dude from Coheed and Cambria whipping his entire mane of hair back and forth to his 2005 throwback songs, and then get a taco launched at you from a cannon. Also, the entire grounds have the constant aroma of burning marijuana.
(Crowd jamming out inside the Yellow Tent)
(Random orbs of light in the backstage area)
(Golden Dawn Arkestra)
The lineup this year featured a pretty solid crew. Wu Tang Clan brought out the old school, while Schoolboy Q, Rae Sremmurd, and Joey Bada$$ brought out the new school. Something about including those 3 last artists in the same sentence as Wu Tang Clan feels wrong, though. The fest always has a way of bringing in great classic bands, along with new trendy artists. Jane’s Addiction, Cheap Trick, Babes in Toyland, and Skinny Puppy all tore into the city, while Toro Y Moi, Future Islands, Peaches, and Big Freedia all added a different dynamic to the festival.
Some of the bands were fantastic, others missed the point. Grimes is currently touring a new album. Her sets used to be simple with just her, her equipment, and her looped echoing vocals. They were also full of technical problems and apologies from the Canadian artist. This year, she no longer had the technical issues, but her vocals were weak and unappealing. She added plenty of ribbon dancers to her performance. Sadly, the ribbons couldn’t distract the crowd from her vocals. Big Freedia got up and taught hundreds of people how to twerk, though it’s unclear whether the audience actually retained any of the twerking lessons, or if it was just the alcohol. Peaches smoked a joint on stage, had a gay couple propose during her performance of “Fuck the Pain Away” (how romantic?), and she brought out dancing vaginas. Future Islands had the most powerful roaring vocals. Toro Y Moi set a groovy vibe as the sun was going down and raindrops fell from the sky. After the festival ended each night of the weekend, the party continued at various downtown venues. There were after parties all throughout the city, with DJ’s, bands, and comedians all performing into the night.
The best set of the entire festival was Lauryn Hill’s incredible closing night performance. She brought a full band, with a rich and funky sound. Some Lauryn Hill diehard fans rolled their eyes at the multiple cover songs, but the way she put together a Bob Marley medley and transitioned into some Nina Simone was effortless and magical. She of course sang “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, and closed out the set with “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”—the song everybody was waiting for. Her time was cutoff at exactly 10 P.M., when the plug was pulled on the sound. She didn’t even blink when this happened, and continued to sing along with the audience. The instruments in the band kept rolling with it. The energy was amazing, and it was the perfect end to the Festival.