Fun Fun Fun Fest 2007


In what’s becoming an annual tradition, I once again scored some free tickets to Fun Fun Fun Fest this weekend in Waterloo Park (Thanks, Austinist!). I went last year and enjoyed myself despite the cold temperatures. By moving the festival a month earlier, the organizers were rewarded with near perfect weather. In fact, it was a bit on the warm side with temperatures reaching the low to mid 80s in the afternoon. As with last year, I completely neglected the third stage which features mostly DJs and dance music, not really my cup of tea…

I only managed to make the night shows on Saturday, arriving just in time for local metal merchants, The Sword. I’ve mentioned them before. I was actually a bit disappointed in their live set. I stuck around for the whole thing, but I don’t think I’d make an effort to see them again. I also checked out parts of New Pornographers, Explosions in the Sky and Neurosis. I knew what to expect with Neurosis. I’d seen them at Stubb’s during SXSW several years ago. They’re very heavy and trance-inducing with a video screen of looping images and short clips playing behind them. Explosions in the Sky are very atmospheric. It’s not surprising that they ended up on a soundtrack (Friday Night Lights). I’d say that New Pornographers were my discovery of Saturday.

On Sunday, I made it down a bit earlier and brought my camera (click the photo to see the whole set). I arrived in time to check out Don Caballero. Being a drummer myself, I’m a big fan of Damon Che’s drumming. He always comes off as a bit of a crank though. He appeared to be having issues with both the sun and his heartburn, asking if anyone in the audience had a pack of Tums. Somebody obliged by throwing one on stage and Che quickly popped some into his mouth and began chewing as he started the next number. For the next couple of hours, I floated between Youth Brigade, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, Poison Idea, and Mates of State, sitting down to enjoy a chopped beef sandwich from Lamberts during Mates of State. They’re a husband and wife pop duo. I’d never heard of them before, but they were pretty good. I can’t say that I heard much that stood out from the other four bands. Once they were finished, I parked myself in front of Stage 1 for Ted Leo and Battles.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ted Leo, downloaded a few of his tracks and narrowly missed seeing him several times, including ACL, so I was excited to finally see him. He didn’t disappoint. He’s got just enough rock with his pop sensibility to make it interesting for me. He threw out several mentions of local artists, including dedications to Tim & Beth Kerr and the recently departed Lance Hahn. They were definitely the best band of the festival. This was my second time to see The Battles. I caught them in June at Emo’s. This set was necessarily shorter since it was a festival date instead of their own headlining show. They played a similar but shorter set and it was still jaw dropping (unfortunately, they didn’t play “B + T” this time, one of my favorites). I have a serious man crush on John Stanier. His technical ability and power on the drums is unbelievable. The Battles’ lineup tied together a show earlier in the day and the Helmet show that I hit last week at Red 7. Stanier played drums in the original Helmet lineup and Ian Williams used to play in Don Cabellero.

As I mentioned last year, Fun Fun Fun Fest is a nice alternative to the massive crowds of ACL and SXSW. The lineup is diverse and the crowds aren’t ridiculous. I had no trouble getting close for any of the bands on either day. They give a nod to some of the old school punk acts, while also booking newer stuff. They book the heavy and the poppy. I also like that they’re keeping the food vendors local, but using a different lineup than ACL (though the ubiquitous Sweet Leaf Tea appeared at both). My only complaint was the lighting on the stages after dark. Both stages featured colored spotlights behind the bands that seemed to be designed to blind the audience members. I found myself squinting during more than one set. Get rid of those damn lights next year and it’s all good.

Here’s some reviews and photos from other sites:

3 Comments so far

  1. Allen (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 12:37 pm

    Great recap, Tim. Man, did you win our giveaway two years in a row now? :)

  2. wae (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

    At the 2006 ACL, Ted Leo beat his own self bloody with a mic and unabashedly belted through his punk pop set even after losing his voice 20 minutes in. His studio stuff always seems a half step shy of that energy, but he sure can carry the mail on stage.

  3. josh (unregistered) on November 5th, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

    I really really really wanted to make the trek to austin for fun fun fun fest, but waited too too too long and plane tickets got too too too expensive. Hope you caught Girl Talk.

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