Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Recap

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/fff12sm.jpg" alt="Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Recap" />Before the calendar forced the end of the 2012 music festival season, the ‘Live Music Capitol of the World’ threw...

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Recap

Before the calendar forced the end of the 2012 music festival season, the ‘Live Music Capitol of the World’ threw one last party, and one of the best, in Fun Fun Fun Fest.  Austin welcomed a diverse line-up of acts & stages, Friday-Sunday, November 2nd to 4th, and QRO runs down the report card:

 

 

FRIDAY

Girl In a Coma (photoshoot)

Girl In a Coma

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Penguin Prison

I first saw Penguin Prison at Neon Desert Festival during the summer and this band is always a pleasure to see.  They transport me back to the days of bell-bottoms, disco, and Soul Train.  However, I thought it was a live set instead of a DJ set, which I thought would pale in comparison to the former, but I was luckily proven wrong.  Chris Glover, the front man of Penguin Prison, captured all the intensity as if it were a live set.  His croons soared and his dulcet falsetto glistened in the soundscape of bubbly bass lines, sinuous rhythms, and metallic synths.  Glover’s DJ set ensued in a cacophonic dance party as he powered through the fan favorites, “Golden Train”, and, “The Worse It Gets”.  The DJ set had the energetic fervor of Bootsy Collins, the smooth class of Prince, and the disco nostalgia of Chic.

Grade: A-

 

Dum Dum Girls

Dum Dum Girls

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Icona Pop

Icona Pop

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Black Lips

The Black Lips

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Black Lips, Atlanta’s messiest rock outfit, happens to be one of my favorite bands.  However, their show at Fun Fun Fun Fest was absolutely so disheartening.  Yet what should I have expected when a deranged Val Kilmer, an apathetic Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling, and cameramen were all going to occupy the stage with the Black Lips?  I felt as if I was at a movie set rather than an actual performance while a riled Val Kilmer smashed a Gibson guitar and destroyed an amp with a prop chainsaw while screaming phrases like, “Autograph the epitaph,” and “Rock and roll is dead!”  The performance all seemed to staged and prepared and not even guitarist Cole Alexander’s boisterous charm could add a little spontaneity to the performance.

Grade: B-

Rooney Mara

 

Cursive

Cursive

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Superchunk

Before Fun Fun Fun Fest, I have never seen Superchunk.  Yet, their performance was by far one of the most memorable.  For a bunch of mid-life crisis folk, it’s hard to believe that this band is highly known for their heavy-adrenaline and do-it-yourself mentality.  They easily reminded me of the energetic punk-rock veterans of Mission of Burma (QRO live review) and Swans (QRO live review) as they thrashed around the stage like angst-ridden teenagers at their first house party.  Mac McCaughan’s guitar marinated the songs as he yielded an onslaught of distorted power chords while diminutive bassist; Laura Balance’s slapped the bass that reverberated amongst the intoxicated audience.

Grade: A+

 

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

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Santigold

Santigold

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This was my fourth time seeing the new wave princess Santigold – so, perhaps I’m biased but I was completely ambivalent to her performance.

Santigold

Her performance was absolutely predictable as she was dressed in some tribal garb while charging through her imaginative soundscape in Master of My Make Believe.  The only part I thoroughly enjoyed was the riot that was “Creator”, as some of the crowd danced like maniacs to the sporadic synths and burbling, jungle percussion.

Grade: B-

 

Santigold

 

 

Bob Mould Band

Bob Mould

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Run D.M.C

Run D.M.C.

Run D.M.C

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For this being one of Run D.M.C’s first performances in over a decade, there was a lot of hype amongst avid festivalgoers to die-hard fans, and they definitely delivered.  These guys are legends so it would be expected but I had my reservations, expecting the hip-hop collective to deliver a placid and lackluster performance – no longer having any cultural or musical relevance.  But Run D.M.C’s performance was anything but that.

Starting as a heartfelt sermon, the performance was a live tribute to D.M.C’s longtime collaborator and friend, Jam Master Jay, and celebration of Run D.M.C’s new DJs: the fallen Jam Master Jay’s sons, ‘Jam Master J Son’, and ‘Dasmatic’.  Some may have their qualms about the duo’s performance, saying it was a rapid succession of singles upon singles, but that’s expected.  They garnered a worthy crowd of gaped mouth fans, inebriated dancers, and high hip-hop aficionados.  The duo ransacked through the fan favorite, “It’s Tricky”, the nostalgic, “Peter Piper”, and the sing along, “Walk This Way”, where I saw some people doing their rapid impersonation of Steven Tyler.

These guys are the forefathers of hip-hop and few old-school acts still have the energy and delivery to reclaim the illustrious throne of hip-hop.  So seeing it be done with such poise and naturally was nothing short of a sweet reunion.  Welcome back, boys.

Grade: A++

 

 

SATURDAY

A Place To Bury Strangers (photoshoot)

A Place To Bury Strangers

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Peelander-Z (photoshoot)

Peelander-Z

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Surfer Blood

I was really looking forward to seeing Surfer Blood since I became a fan after their album, Astro Coast (QRO review), which was on a perpetual loop.  However, Surfer Blood fell into the lazy afternoon lull.  Their set was still enjoyable but that was it.  It wasn’t memorable or anything note-worthy.  Without a lack of a better word – it was just good.  The most worthy mention of the set was when the band delved into an unbridled jam of sinuous guitar distortions and effect-laden riffs at the end of “Anchorage”.  It was hot and the crowd fell into a catatonic stage of apathy during the afternoon so it’s not the bands fault.

Grade: B+

 

Brendan Benson

Brendan Benson

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Braid

Braid

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Danny Brown

Ever since I heard Danny Brown’s nasally drawl delivery, I became an instant fan.  His performance was my most anticipated performance of the night and he came in tow with artillery and guns in tow as his aggressive and violent delivery marinated the beat to palpable pulp.  Draped in a large black shirt that shaped his rail-thin silhouette, with untamed hair and skinny jeans, Danny Brown seemed to be of some Halloween caricature.  Seamlessly crossing between a schizophrenic addict screaming expletives to an inspired artist musing on his experiences with drugs and cunnilingus.  He pulled out all his jokes and cacophonic melodies from his catalogue of songs in his debut album, XXX.

Grade: A

 

D.M.C.

D.M.C.

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Kreayshawn

Kreayshawn

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Tanlines

Tanlines

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STRFKR

I feel bad for STRFKR.  They are a good band so it pains me to say this live nu-disco band had a lackluster performance with a few glazed-over eyes at FFF.  Perhaps their show proved a little too tranquil after a raucous Danny Brown set, or the subpar sound guys that were controlling the volume levels.  I could barely hear the vocals in “Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” that the band opened with, after two blaring and wall of noise instrumentals.  The lush instrumental layers of polished synths in the album did not transfer well into the loudspeakers at the festival, sounding like harsh white noise.  The only note-worthy part of the set was when the band jumped into the jauntily “Julius”, that sounds like a hybrid of M83 (QRO live review) and Neon Indian (QRO live review).  I wanted to dance but all I could simply do was nod my head to the beat.

Grade: B-

 

Paul Banks

Paul Banks

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The Head and The Heart

The Head and The Heart

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A$AP Rocky

The overly optimistic Harlem rapper easily had one of the best sets at FFF.  Granted, there were a few problems of blaring back track vocals and cringe-worthy moments where the rapper actually tried singing, but all that paled in comparison to his passionate performance and boisterous energy.  His energy never faltered as he punched through a slew of consecutive tracks of “Purple Swag” and “Goldie”.  Blunts and drugs were spread around as ScHoolboy Q joined A$AP Rocky in “Brand New Guy, and “Hands on the Wheel”, as they both rapped, “Life for me is just weed and brew.”  Amidst a cloud of smoke and a stage of black clad ASAP crew mobbers, Detroit’s Danny Brown also joined A$AP to rap a few impromptu lines in his harsh drawl.  In between oscillating bass lines and 808 samples, the trill rapper even preached about optimism and respect.

Grade: A-

 

Public Images LTD

Public Image LTD

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Girl Talk

Girl Talk

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SUNDAY

Ume

Ume

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Balmorhea

Balmorhea

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ADD+

ADD+

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Japandroids

After hearing their latest LP, Celebration Rock (QRO review), I instantly became a fan of Japandroids.  With a sweat clad t-shirt, Brian King quipped, “Your beautiful Texas sun is killing our Canadian bodies.”  However their boundless spirit proved otherwise.  The name clearly is an accurate moniker for the Vancouver duo.  King yielded his guitar like a gun as it spewed out bullets of distorted and harsh power chords while drummer, David Prowse slammed the drums with a violent and ceaseless ferocity.  As the band cranked it up to 11 (Spinal Tap anyone?) their show culminated into an explosion as Prowse followed with a barraging solo of snares and bass kicks in “Evil’s Sway”.  The crowded even joined in a bolstering sing along in the “whoa-oh” chorus of “The House That Heaven Built”.  Whoever said rock is dead is clearly wrong.

Grade: A+

 

Fang Island

Fang Island

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Bleached

Bleached

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Nicky da B

Nicky da B

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A Place To Bury Strangers

A Place To Bury Strangers

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AraabMUZIK

MPC aficionado, AraabMUZIK used to be really good.  He dazzled audiences as his fingers dashed away on the controller pads making an amalgam of high hats and snare pops into a hip-hop collage.  He stood out amongst a sea of cookie-cutter DJs and cheap synth wannabes, but his performance at FFF only showed that he’s slowly giving into the typical DJ aesthetic of spewing dubstep, trap, and brostep singles after another.  Not only that but his performance lacked any energy, besides the molly-popping audience, as he stood lifeless and apathetic amongst a backset of neon colored lights.  Once he played Skrillex, I immediately lost interest and headed my way back to the Orange stage.  AraabMUZIK needs to stick with his roots.

Grade: C+

 

Nite Jewel

Nite Jewel

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Class Actress

Class Actress

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Givers

Givers

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Deerhoof

Deerhoof

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Explosions in the Sky

Explosions In the Sky

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Starting out as the experimental ‘post-rock’ outfit from Austin, Explosions in the Sky’s performance was a fitting and expected experience at FFF.  Each song started off with twinkling and languid guitar melodies that soon combusted into blaring swells of distortion and delay.  Everyone stood still with gaped mouths and glazed eyes as the cathartic and atmospheric melodies bubbled in in calm soundscape.

Grade: A-

Explosions In the Sky

 

The Octopus Project

The Octopus Project

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Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez

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The Black Angels

The Black Angels

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Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros

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After two days of intense power walking and a dusty infested Auditorium Shores, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros brought the third day to a bittersweet close.  The folk outfit started with the rambling “40 Day Dream”, as Alex Ebert’s incantatory cadence soared while he Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zerossang, “Ohh I could die”.  There is something so extremely whimsical about the band as jauntily guitar progressions and booming horns burst into a clarion of euphoric folk ditties.  Looking around, I saw people in a joyous rapture as many were skipping around with glee or flailing their limbs as if nostalgic Woodstock-goers.  They closed their set with the ubiquitous, “Home”, as it ensued in a sing along, uniting a sea of hundreds through the power of music.

Grade: A+

 

Fun Fun Fun Fest 2012 Recap

words – Alejandra Ramirez
photos – Rick Kern

 

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