Fun Times Three: The Can’t Miss Acts at Fun Fun Fun Fest
Leon casino, Photo: FFF
So, this year when you look back at all of the festival lineups that were put together, the most diverse will more than likely be the 2014 Fun Fun Fun Fest lineup. Comedy, music, BMX, and wrestling, the crew behind the festival has really gone above and beyond to make an experience for the ages. As someone who attends countless fests over the course of a year; this is one for the ages. Below, I will attempt to navigate the three day and four night extravaganza to my best abilities.
Thursday Night the Fun Fun Fun Nights will have a multitude of options around town, though outdoors at Mohawk Outdoors feels like where it’s at. The show will be headlined by recently reunited emocore Texans, Mineral. I would guess that many of you would know the name, but not really the story; but Mineral was always an entertaining band to see back in the day. When they were together, they dropped two great albums with their debut “The Power of Failing,” only to be followed up by “EndSerenading.” As a guy who knows Chris and Jay well enough to say that I feel like this is a super big deal that they’re doing this reunion; I can also say that I have no idea if new music is in the works or not. Back in the day, it was really common for bands to break up at the beginning of a promising career, and knowing that it’s become public that they were signed to Interscope prior to their demise makes this even more special. I just hope that they play facing the crowd this time as opposed to how they did back in the day with their backs to the audience. The show will also feature one of the better emo bands of that era, Knapsack. Knapsack was always in the vein of just about to blow up. Their singer, Blair Shehan has always had a pretty amazing voice. I caught them twice in the nineties and they were really great. Their album, “Silver Sweepstakes” is still on heavy rotation at my house. They will be joined by Philadelphia’s The Jazz June. These guys were always one of those bands who I felt got overlooked for too long back in the late nineties. Their song “Red Light District” off of “They Love Those Who Make The Music,” has always been one of my favorite songs ever, and they will have a new album out sooner than later. Getting things started is the guy who I feel like has the largest hand in these bands making a return, Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It. The fact that Into It. Over It. is opening things up is pretty cool, as he’s just been touring with Mineral. This guy, I seriously love pretty much everything he’s done. The concept albums, the intense live show, and the fact that he’s a super nice guy are only overshadowed by his latest album. That album, last year’s “Intersections” was one of the best I heard all year. Into It. Over It. gets started at 7:15 and if you’re an emo fan; then this is the show for you.
On Friday, I plan on starting off with the Knapsack set at 2:00 over on the Orange stage, and then stay for Mineral. However, it’s really just to have a great spot for Sun Kil Moon at 4:25. Since singer Mark Kozelek had his feud with War On Drugs, I kind of feel like I need to be around in case he has another meltdown. After a bit of that, I’d like to catch at least fifteen minutes of Ginuwine over at the Blue stage at 5:15. Something about that song “Differences” makes me wanna’ catch his epic voice live. Though it’ll sound strange, there’s a part of me that wants to catch the French pop of Yelle over on the Blue stage at 6:15. Though I won’t be there for long because I’m sure I’ll make my way over to the Black stage at 6:35 for Death From Above 1979. I kind of feel like this is the go to for the day. The intense energy of these two can’t really be matched by many before and after them. And their new album, “The Physical World” is pretty amazing. After that, I’d like to catch at least a couple songs from metal legends, Judas Priest, over on the Black stage at 8:10. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll open with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” though I doubt that will be the case. I have a feeling that I’ll end my Friday night on the festival grounds with Alt-J on the Orange stage at 8:30. That latest album from these guys, “This Is All Yours” just sounds like it was made to be performed at a festival.
Of all of the FFF Nights shows Friday night, I feel like the Ted Leo show at Mohawk Indoor might be the best to end the day. Since Leo drops albums in a more sporadic nature than most, his soft voice coupled with driving guitar just feels right. I still feel like his 2004 album, “Shake The Sheets” is one of the best in the past decade. Opening that show up will be the post emocore of Pop Unknown, who I swear I haven’t seen in at least a decade. This feels like where it’s at for me, though Pop Unknown won’t hit the stage until midnight.
On Saturday, I plan on starting early at the Yellow stage to catch Austin’s Master Pancake Theater at 11:30. The beloved comedy troupe has been wowing audiences for a long time, and this will be a Video Jukebox performance that I feel like I have to catch live. I plan on rolling over to the Orange stage at 1:30 to catch the fuzzed guitar of King Tuff. That new King Tuff album “Black Moon Spell” echoes more glam than the New York Dolls reunion did several years ago; and he’s pretty amazing in a live setting. Because Glassjaw basically reforms and breaks up so often, I kind of feel like this might be one of my last chances to catch them over at the Black stage at 2:00. The ferocity behind their 2002 album, “Worship and Tribute” always felt like that place that Helmet should have gone after breaking through to the mainstream. I’m sure I’ll be making it over to the Yellow stage for the politically charged humor of W. Kamau Bell at 2:30. Bell is so freaking hilarious that his 2010 album, “Face Full of Flour” doesn’t tip the surface of. After that, I’d like to check out the Volcom Team meet and greet on the Green stage at 3:30 before heading over to the Yellow stage at 4:00 to see Fred Armisen. I’m intrigued to see what a live set from Z-Trip looks like, so I’m more than likely checking that out at the Blue stage at 4:25. I’m not sure if this will be a straight DJ set or a collaborative set, but I really dug his 2007 album, “All Pro.” At 5:15 I want to check out The World Is A Beautiful Place and I am No Longer Afraid to Die over at the Yellow stage. These guys are one of my favorite new bands, I caught them earlier this year and was amazed; and their newest album, “Between Bodies” is pretty spectacular. The New Pornographers will be where I head next at 5:55 on the Orange stage. I really loved their 2010 album “Together,” and I really love their latest “Brill Bruisers.”
After them I’m torn, but I will probably check out a little of King Diamond on the Black stage at 8:05. I’m guessing I’ll get to hear some Mercyful Fate songs as well as some from King’s better tracks like “Welcome Home,” or if I’m lucky, “The Puppet Master.” Of course, I’ll finish off the day with where I’m guessing everyone else will be, at the Orange stage for Modest Mouse at 8:30. I can’t really pick a favorite Modest Mouse album, as I like them all. But I’m really excited to catch some new songs.
For Saturday’s FFF Nights, I feel like I’ll be in the mood for something soulful. So, anyone who knows me won’t be shocked to hear me say that I’ll be at Hotel Vegas for Har Mar Superstar. For me, “Bye Bye 17” was one of my favorite albums of 2013. Couple that with Sean’s crazy live show and you have a great evening. He’ll have the slow jam hip hop of California’s Antwon on before him. Antwon is seriously one of those guys who I feel like could rule the underground hip hop scene, and his “Dying In The Pussy” single from last year was really dope. The Three Six Mafia inspired sounds of Memphis’ Cities Aviv will open the show at 10:30.
Sunday, there’s plenty to get amped for, though I’m starting off with Crooked Bangs at 11:55 over on the Black stage. There’s something endearing about these Austinites and their stripped down three piece punk that’s hard not to like. This Will Destroy You will be over at the Orange stage at 12:30, and that just kind of feels like the best band to see that early on a Sunday. Their 2006 album “Young Mountain” is almost as great as their latest, “Another Language” from this year. Over on the Yellow stage, Austin’s Chris Cubas will be cracking jokes at 1:00. I feel like if you haven’t caught Cubas, that you’ve been missing out on one of Austin’s best comics. Though called a “supergroup,” Iron Reagan will be dropping some metal madness over on the Black Stage at 1:45, and I don’t wanna’ miss their riff heavy sound. Their Relapse debut, “The Tyranny Of Will” is that metal album I’ve waited twenty years for. I might make my way to the Yellow stage for another round of Har Mar Superstar at 2:35. Or, I might just watch some wrestling on the Red stage at 2:25 with Punk Rock Circus. At 3:35 I plan on catching Foxygen at the Orange stage, or Jonah Ray at the Yellow stage. After catching both in Houston earlier this year, it’s a tough call. After that I wanna’ catch Kumail Nanjiani at the Yellow stage at 4:00 before heading over to the Black stage to see Hot Water Music at 5:00. After seeing Chuck Ragan earlier this year and meeting him, I feel like I should check them out. I’ll make it over to the Orange stage at 5:55 for Yo La Tengo, but only briefly so I don’t miss Gorilla Biscuits on the Black stage at 6:10. Gorilla Biscuits seriously helped shaped my youth, and I’m super stoked to see them live. Though I’m a big fan of Failure, who’ll be at the Orange stage at 7:10, I feel like my heart is telling me to skip them and the amazing sounds of Flying Lotus on the Blue stage at 7:25; for Rocket From The Crypt on the Black stage at 7:25 also. There are very few reunions that I wished for, but RFTC was always one of them. The only band I’ve caught on every album tour, traveled across the country to see more than once, and the only band where I own physical copies of their entire catalog; this should be a real treat. From the early albums like “All Systems Go” to their final studio album, “Live From Camp X-Ray,” I’ve been a huge fan and I can’t wait for their set. I then plan on heading to Orange to catch Neutral Milk Hotel at 8:30, before allowing Wiz Khalifa to close out the fest for me on the Blue stage at 8:45.
I don’t think i’ll have the energy to attend the FFF Nights show at Beerland, but if you plan on going, it’s a doozy. Headlined by the indie chaos of Austin’s Future Death, this is a great closer. If you’re unaware of Future Death, they have a very different sound that’s evident on their recently released album, “Special Victim.” The speed dredge punk of Ohio’s Party Plates will also be on hand to cause some deafness and incite head banging or even a pit. The experimental sludge core of Connecticut’s Empty Vessels will also be there, while the show we be opened by Austin’s electronic noise punks Street Sects at 10:00.
This is just my schedule, as there’s more happening at Fun Fun Fun this year than ever before. If you wish to attend, the epic three and a half day event will mostly take place at Auditorium Shores from November 7th through November 9th. They still have a limited number of ticketing options that range between $85.00 for a one day pass all the way up to the Ultra Smooth 3-Day pass for $450.00. This is just one of those festivals, where I’d say that no matter what you choose, it’s worth every penny.