Ten Cool Things I Saw at ‘Fun Fun Fun Fest’

taco cannon

In a sea of festivals lacking a personal identity, Austin’s ‘Fun Fun Fun Fest’ is truly one in (seemingly) a million. Now in its 8th year, ‘FFF’ specializes in a unique blend of metal and hardcore, indie rock and old-school hip-hop across three genre-themed musical stages, in addition to a comedy tent and skate ramp.

The resulting lineup was drastically different than any other festival poster you’ve seen this year: Slayer, Ice-T, Television, Sarah Silverman, Snoop Dogg and Descendents (just to name a few). Did I mention the world’s first and only Taco Cannon? It’s literally a cannon that launches two rounds of ten tacos into the crowd between sets. Quite frankly, I’m shocked no one was trampled in pursuit of flying tacos. Below is a list of ten other things that stuck out to me during what was my first (but certainly won’t be my last) time attending ‘Fun Fun Fun Fest.’

1. The festival’s Black Stage, tucked away in the Auditorium Shores’ far back corner (almost as if they purposely tried to segregate the crazies from the rest of the crowd), hosted all the punk, hardcore and metal acts and smartly had a built-in diving board for the endless stream of crowd surfers. In all my years of attending shows, I’ve never seen as many stage dives as I did during acts like Judge and Ceremony. Bands and fans alike seemed to recognize that this U-shaped peninsula jutting out from the front of the stage belonged as much to the audience as it did the performer, but that’s not to say a few boundaries weren’t crossed. One stage-crasher during Gojira’s set leaned in for a kiss on singer/guitarist Joe Duplantier and was promptly shoved back into crowd by the French metal act’s hulking frontman. The next person to reach the stage successfully growled into the now-vacant mic stand. Have fun, kids, let’s not try to upstage the band.

2. Thurston Moore, performing with his new project Chelsea Light Moving, called a 5-minute time-out in the middle of the band’s ripping set so he could re-string his guitar after snapping a string. You mean to tell me the ex-Sonic Youth guitarist now travels with just one guitar? Sure…

3. Like any good festival, FFF featured an impressive lineup of local food vendors. Points for creativity go to Frank, which offered a special hot dog to celebrate each night’s headliner. The Slayer dog, naturally, boasted all sorts of spicy (read: angry) ingredients for the price of $6.66. The Snoop Dog, in honor of the Friday closer, featured a quarter pound dog topped with hemp cheese, “malt liquor mustard” and edible 24k gold dust. The price tag: $24.20. The Snoop Dog was somehow sold out by Saturday morning.

4. A wrestling ring offered two shows a day from Austin’s Anarchy Championship Wrestling. The Sunday afternoon show perfectly coincided with the Cro-Mags set on the nearby Black Stage, and I can’t imagine a better backing band for such an affair. After the main event match between ACH and former WWE performer Paul London ended in a DQ, the two sprinted to the stage and promptly dove into the pit, where they continued duking it out. Earlier in the day, ACH also contributed some rather athletic maneuvers to the Air Sex Championships in the comedy tent. No word on if he was victorious there.

5. Saturday night offered an Ice-T marathon of sorts, which I suppose might not seem all that unordinary for anyone with a basic cable package, but seeing the West Coast hip-hop legend on stage is a much more rare occurrence. His first set of the night saw him fronting his metal band Body Count on the Black Stage, busting out classics like “There Goes the Neighborhood” and covering Suicidal Tendencies’ “Institutionalized.” “Are y’all afraid of the police?” he asked when urging the frenzied crowd for even more audience participation during “Cop Killer,” the group’s biggest hit. “I play one on TV and I’m up here singing this shit!” Just over an hour later, he’d begin closing out the Blue Stage in grand fashion with a set of gangsta rap anthems. When he invited two young fans on stage to help perform “O.G. Original Gangster,” he proclaimed “this is either going to be the greatest moment of your lives or some fucked up shit.” I’d guess it was a little bit of both. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be back in Austin and I don’t know if you’ll ever see me back on stage,” he said before inviting his wife Coco on stage for a final bow. “But one thing’s for sure: tonight you can say you saw Ice-T!” TWICE!

6. I saw an aging punk wearing a Bad Religion shirt rocking out to Ice-T. This is only mentionable because Descendents were playing at that exact same time and, you know, that’s kind of where you’d expect to see such a person. Similarly, there was also a dude in a Slayer t-shirt dancing his ass off to Cut Copy on Friday night. Oh yeah, that second person was me.

7. In true rockstar fashion, Johnny Marr took the Orange Stage 20 minutes after his scheduled start time on Friday afternoon and still played his full set, causing the stage to run behind schedule all evening until sacrificial lambs The Walkmen had their time on stage cut in half. No bother, it was well worth the delay as Marr ended his energetic set with a string of Smiths classics.

8. My body would’ve hated me for it, but it turns out I probably could have survived on nothing but free Twinkies all weekend. The spongy cream-filled treats were hauled around the festival by the barrel, handed out and tossed around at every turn. Late Sunday afternoon I opened up the door to a Port-a-John half expecting to smell that “third day of the festival” odor (you know the one!), but all I could smell was frosting as several Twinkies were smashed under my feet. I’m not sure if Twinkies are going to make a comeback, but damnit, they’re giving it an honest shot!

9. Kurt Vile, whose Thursday night pre-show at Mohawk was highlight of the weekend in its own right, is apparently a huge metalhead. I bumped shoulders with him during True Widow’s performance at a Friday “Nites” (that’s what ‘FFF’ calls their free post-festival sets spread throughout smaller Austin clubs) show headlined by Chicago post-metal outfit Pelican. He was out late again the next evening at a show top-lined by sludge metallers Black Tusk.

10. “Wait, I’m at a music festival and still have cell reception? Let me tweet out this picture of Bushwick Bill real quick!” It was also nice being able to text your friends and tell them which corner of Slayer’s mosh pit they could find you in, but I guess that’s just one of the many perks of attending a festival that tops out at modest 15,000 or so attendees per day.

 

Written by: Kevin Blumeyer

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