Volume: Fun Fun Fun Fest – Auditorium Shores, Austin, TX – 11/4-6 2011
Another three days of music in Austin per year? Count me in. The girlfriend and I make the annual trek to Austin City Limits Festival every year, but this was the first year for me to get down for what is considered the anti-ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest. With the exception of the new digs, the incredibly dusty Auditorium Shores from the fest’s former home, Waterloo Park, and a lack of a folding chair to rest the old 41 year old back (thank God for the El Camino skating area with a few chairs), this fest was a winner.
I caught several great sets from many great bands, including Hot Snakes, Lykke Li, Brian Posehn (making the wait for Slayer hilariously bearable), Dead Horse, Boris, Cold Cave, Kool Keith, and watched as Flavor Flav lip sync’d “911 Is A Joke” and while Chuck D brought it to “Welcome To The Terrordome” during Public Enemy’s somewhat stunted set, but I want to focus on the best things I saw of the fest.
The following were the best 5 things I caught.
1. The Damned’s Saturday night set on the Black Stage was without question the dark-horse winner of the festival. Their recreation of Damned Damned Damned with few other later tracks (“History Of The World”, “Smash it Up”) including my absolute favorite song of theirs, the song that introduced me to them on The Young Ones, “Nasty”. Exuding confidence, power, and 35 years of experience, poise, class and humor, The Damned solidly stole the show from everyone. Not a soul walked away Saturday night without commenting on this set. It was true brilliance and I hope this is not my last opportunity to see these British punk icons.
2. Slayer’s closing Sunday night set contained arguably the best set list they’ve put together in years. Pulling out lesser played tracks such as “Bloodline”, “Black Magic” and a Synaptic favorite “Silent Scream”, the greatest metal band in history hit on all eras of their storied career, save for the majority of their ‘90’s output. Why isn’t this the number one set I saw all weekend? It was probably the sloppiest Slayer show I’ve seen in 17 times. Jeff Hanneman’s stand-in, Exodus’s Gary Holt (I’m taking nothing away from him, in my eyes the only thing worse would be if he had to fill in for The Edge) is doing an admirable job filling one of my favorite guitarist’s shoes. But he’s not Jeff Hanneman. It seemed that frontman Tom Araya was watching him a good portion of the evening , even at one point it appeared he was showing Holt what key they were in mid-song. Aside from that, it seemed drummer Dave Lombardo was having a difficult evening as well as Araya kept turning to him to keep the songs on track. Many missed cues marred the set for me, but it was made up for by the fact that it was SLAYER. The remainder of their set was a greatest hits melee that gives so much cred to the festival it wasn’t funny. The sheer fact that “South of Heaven”, “Raining Blood”, “Seasons In The Abyss” and “Hell Awaits” were played at a Fun Fun Fun Fest made this the most street cred festival on the block.
3. Murder City Devils reuniting yet again for Fun Fun Fun Fest was the main reason I went. An esteemed member of The Big Eight (along with fest mates Slayer), I hadn’t seen the Devils since 2001. And what a loose performance they gave. But, for a band that really doesn’t exist anymore, they were still better than most bands who had been on tour for years. I would have preferred vocalist Spencer Moody drop the lyrics to almost any other song but “Bear Away”, but his bearded bespectacled howl and microphone eating while standing on the monitors antics reminded you why you love this man in the first place. There’s a new single from them on the way, and I for one cannot wait.
4. Turquoise Jeep was a nice surprise. Playing the tented Yellow stage, there was barely room to even see the choreographed hip-hop act who dare to ask the question “How do you like your eggs? Fried or fertilized?” I caught this on a tip from a buddy who was also down for the fest, and they were tremendous. So glad I caught their set.
5. The Danzig meltdown. I don’t like to curse on here but this warrants it. How fucking douchey does one have to be to become the punchline butt of jokes for an entire festival – from bloggers, organizers, fans and even the bands – everyone took their shots. From The Damned kicking him, Ted Leo pulling out their Halloween Danzig/Misfits show to play songs he didn’t get to on Friday night, to even Slayer posting pics on their wall, everyone took their shots. If you haven’t heard about the antics Mr. Danzig from Friday night, you can get caught up here. For once, “The Man” (Fun Fun Fun) was in the right, shutting his power off at curfew (Austin imposes a 10:00 noise curfew for festivals) since he was 45 minutes late, and knew he had a shortened set. It’s not the first time the diminutive, balding metal “god” has pulled crap like this, and most likely won’t be the last. The only way to combat this is for people to stop booking him, which would be the greatest finger of all. Prior to his set I proclaimed I would pay $100 to see a real set from the real Misfits. I rescind that sentiment altogether. I hope I never see this guy ever again. Unless Danny from North Side Kings is cleaning his clock.
Thank you Fun Fun Fun Fest for providing a top notch festival this past weekend. I will be back next year. But could we find a grassier place next time?