Festival Review: Fun Fun Fun Fest

When: November 4-6

Where: Austin, TX

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Highlight: The grittiest and most unique festival in Austin’s weird, eclectic scene.

Austin’s premiere fall music festival isn’t as luxe as Coachella, nor is it as well known as Austin City Limits although it’s gaining momentum. What started as a gritty and dirty underground punk and metal festival has found itself on the national music festival radar. This November’s festival marked FunFunFun Fest’s sixth anniversary and with a new year and popular demand, FunFunFun relocated from the intimate Waterloo Park to the larger Auditorium Shores on the south bank of Lady Bird Lake.

Although FunFunFun Fest has added a variety of general fans to its already cult following, the event did not sacrifice a bit of its weird, rough around the edges flavor. Though the couture mimicked mainstream rather than the typical mohawk the fare didn’t change to spite a sudden mix of yuppies in the death-metal melting pot of FunFunFun. Transmission Entertainment added flavor by offering up the traditional air sex competition, a boxing ring filled with the fairer of the sexes, and an El Camino lounge area complete with open El Camino tailgates and a Ford Pinto as a spot to relax; they even played host to a wedding this year.

FunFunFun Fest treats its artists like “homies.” Tim Crane of Austin’s T-Bird and The Breaks became one of Performer Magazine’s homies Sunday afternoon, where he dished about his FunFunFun picks and his experience making music in Austin, “We have some new stuff online, and we’re filming right now…here it’s a great crowd. It’s like hometown.” He praises Big Freedia’s performance from early Friday evening, “It’s alright to shake your ass, let’s all have a good time together.”

Crane raved about Friday’s performance by Ocote Soul Sounds, also from Austin, as he dreamed up future side projects of his own. The sentiment was mutual. What started as a side project with Austin’s Latin funk masters Grupo Fantasma has since morphed into a big time crowd pleaser with Afrobeat-meets-voodoo wind instrumentals infused with Grupo’s characteristic Latin soul. Ocote Soul Sounds is not only intoxicating; it transcends the stereotypes that world music invokes.

Native to Austin by way of Cincinnati, The Heartless Bastards wailed their way through Friday afternoon with trademark emotive slide guitars and the power of front woman Erika Wennerstrom’s vocals. Wennerstrom has chops like Robert Plant and Stevie Nicks.

World/Inferno Friendship Society had an unlikely sound to back up the thrashing that was going on front and center at the Black Stage on Saturday afternoon. They presented a unique blend of circusy cabaret-style rock, complete with hot women on viola and saxophone and dapper dudes to back them up, including one on piano.

FunFunFun Fest has really outdone itself this year. Only this festival could feature indie darlings such as M83, Lykke Li, Spoon, and Okkervil River in the same venue as Slayer and Danzig Legacy (which was a huge dose of disappointment), mixed with the electro stylings of Four Tet, Flying Lotus, and Diplo, with a little hip-hop from Big Freedia, Public Enemy and Del The Funky Homosapien thrown in for good measure. FunFunFun doesn’t lose touch with its roots even as it grows and diversifies itself year after year. It’s still the grittiest and most unique festival to populate Austin.


photos by Tara Lacey and Travis Sutherland

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