Festival provides three times the eclectic fun in Austin

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By Selena Puente
Contributing Writer

 

 

 

 

 

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Mikey Orf (left) and Gavin Welch (right) met at Fun Fun Fun. Mikey is an Austin native.  He was mistaken for a rockstar earlier at the festival. Gavin is an oil painter.
-Photo by Selena Puente

I never thought that I would see a man dressed as a banana dancing to Girl Talk. I also never thought I would see a punk band throw a platter of nachos into a crowd that eagerly welcomed it by chanting the band name, “Black Lips! Black Lips!” and then proceeded to hoist its smaller members so that they could dance above abundant camera flashes and cigarettes. That is what FunFunFun Fest was: pure energy. The festival gave everyone an opportunity to discover new up-and-coming acts such as afro-punk outfit The Bots and pop-rockers San Fermin, along with seeing more established indie rockers like Modest Mouse and First Aid Kit — all set in the ever-exciting utopia that is Austin, Texas.

Upon arriving in Austin the first objective was food. That was accomplished with gloppy and good Indian food at a dive called Teji’s, a little restaurant run by a French-looking man who had probably seen booming business considering that he was only a stone’s throw away from the festival grounds at Auditorium Shores. After glorious combo platters with rice and vegetables, and sides of naan and rice pudding (and the necessary coffee), we were ready to trek toward the musical wonderland of FunFunFun Fest.

 

French composer,Yann Tiersen, known for his soundtrack to Amelie, performing at FunFunFun Fest

-Photo by Selena Puente

Even the entrance to the festival seemed magical. A huge amusement park-esque sign blinked above as we entered. A glow of red and yellow washed over us as we were led to the shredding sounds of Judas Priest and a crowd that included everything from people leaning against trees smoking or sitting in festival-provided bean-bags laughing and spilling beer, to metal-heads thrashing around one another like angry buzzing bees. After forty years as a band, Judas Priest still retained a lot of their old sound as they sang the title song from their new album, “Redeemer of Souls.”

I thought the best show was Yann Tiersen’s set. The crowd was small but enthusiastic, cheering throughout but letting Tiersen and his band perform their eclectic music. Tiersen frequently switched between electric guitar, melodica, violin and singing while a bandmate played a six string ukulele. The man behind me, a music photographer from Spain, was an especially avid fan and yelled appreciation for the music in Spanish, nudging the people near him to help generate a spirit that was as lifted as his. The larger shows, like those of First Aid Kit and Modest Mouse, were good but did not stick out in my mind. They offered the same kind of experience even from afar, as we sat in the grass eating dinner and taking in the atmosphere. We preferred to frequent the Nites shows at different local venues. They were a great avenue to discovering smaller acts in an intimate setting, such as San Fermin. We had not listened to their music previously, but their energy amped up the crowd and gave us a wonderful insight into them as a band. There were the added benefits of shorter drink lines, and seeing a myriad of places to visit, especially for those new to Austin. Australian alterative rocker Courtney Barnett showed especially notable hospitality. After performing a stellar set, Barnett came out and talked and posed for pictures with every fan that lined up.

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Indie folk singer , Angel Olsen, performing at the Parish in Austin.
-Photo by Selena Puente

Even if someone did not want to go and listen to music, there were plenty of opportunities to do other things. For instance, you could play giant Jenga, and after getting bored of that go and wrestle in a ring. If that still did not do it for you there was a special shopping section offering vintage sweaters, band shirts and hand-made dresses.

My favorite part of the festival aside from the range of artists and fun performances was the food. There was African food, a vegan bakery, BBQ galore and my favorite, a dessert stand called “Bananarchy” that only sold frozen bananas and seemed to be straight out of “Arrested Development.” The employees all dressed in yellow, with yellow headbands and a spoon sticking out awkwardly. They called out sarcastic comments to passerby and stood behind a sign that said, “Tradition is un-apeeling- support Revolutionary Desserts!”

Among the music acts, Angel Olsen also stood out. Olsen’s was the last show we caught, quite bleary-eyed and sore at 12:30 on Saturday night. We had to climb up solid wood steps into a room that looked like a church. Red velvet lined the walls, and dim lighting barely illuminated a weathered bar. The venue was aptly named Parish, and the couple standing next to us seemed to be beamed out of a ‘90s grunge concert. The girl was covered from head to toe in black fur and wore a small gold headband that was like a halo almost lost in her tangle of curls. Her date was wearing a three-piece suit and had perfectly styled Cat Stevens hair. They looked like figures in a painting, gently swaying to the sound of Olsen’s voice on her closing song, “May As Well.” The lyrics floated above us all: “It may as well have been forgotten/ Or did it simply slip your mind? … In all of my dreams we are husband and wife/ I’ll never forget you all of my life.”

It is safe to say that I will never forget FunFunFun Fest for all of my life. I love music, and I loved this festival. If you want a range of music to choose from, and if you want more than a music festival, this is the place. FunFunFun Fest lives up to its name, and from start to finish I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute. My only regret was most definitely missing Neutral Milk Hotel’s show on Sunday night, and I want to let FunFunFun Fest know that that was poor planning. If people are traveling from different states and countries to come to your festival, do not plan for one of your crowning acts to play an evening show on a Sunday. That is not very fun for anyone.

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Dallas native and FFF festival goer, Nhan Ho, taking a small nap and waiting to see King Diamond.
-Photo by Selena Puente

 

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A veteran graffiti artist, who prefers to be called Zuzu, commissioned by FunFunFun to create their own logo.

-Photo by Selena Puente

Dum dum girls

The mostly girl band and NYC natives, Dum Dum Girls, performing at Mohawk’s for a FFF Nites show.

-Photo by Selena Puente

 

Linda Smith contributed to the reporting of this article.

 

 

 

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