Saturday, November 5, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Wrap-Up: Day 1

Had a great day 1 of FunFunFun Fest yesterday. I feel acclimated to the festival's new home at Auditorium Shores. It's a much larger space allowing for a lot more vendors and a lot more walking if you're trekking from the Orange stage to the Black stage. Luckily, there isn't a whole lot going on over at the Black stage that is of interest to this blogger. Or, more accurately, there is nothing going on at the Black stage that I would rather see than what is going on at the Blue and Orange stages. I rode the, never reliable, Austin city bus to the festival arriving before the first acts hit the stages. I ran into friends and contemporaries and then rushed over to the Orange stage in time to catch TV Torso's terse, energetic set. Lead-singer, Matt Oliver has moments where he sounds like Spoon's Britt Daniel and I'm ok with that. I just adore their songwriting and when they perform live they are, incredibly, on point.

After TV Torso I caught an outstanding performance from Nashville's, Canon Blue. Their set was so dynamic, with a couple of straight-ahead rockers mixed in with textured syncopated tracks and even a spoken-word/rap song. After their set I ran into, the lead Canon Blue and conducted a brief video interview.

Canon Blue - FunFunFun Fest Interview video via YouTube

I was back at the Orange stage in time to see a raucous performance from Cloud Nothings. Their bass was too loud, their performance was messy and it sounded absolutely perfect. You can only get away with their brand of highly-energetic, sloppy garage-rock when you are as youthful as this Cleveland 4-piece. Their recordings sound like shit, which is why they are lumped into the "lo-fi" scene and like most other bands in that group hearing the songs performed live is much more impressive. I could see several people in the crowd checking their line-up to learn the name of the group they were watching because the set was so fun, energetic and captivating they wanted to be sure to remember the band's name. I could see them fitting, perfectly, on a bill with Smith Westerns and Real Estate.

I took a short break in the media area after Cloud Nothings. I was just sitting at one of the picnic tables with my boyfriend when who should stroll up to the table behind us but Mr. Ryan Gosling. As you may remember from coverage of Austin City Limits Festival, Terrence Malick is shooting a film that has something to do with music festivals or concerts in general so while Christian Bale was spotted at ACL, FFF gets the Gos. Personally, I think that's a huge upgrade. The Gos chatted with Thee Oh Sees who were seated at the table behind us along with Coomers from, now defunct Austin band, Harlem. It was funny to watch all of the people surreptitiously taking cell phone photos and looking generally in awe. He sat next to me after they finished that scene and chatted a bit more off camera, he was very nice and oozed with charm, as one would expect. He was spotted all over the festival throughout the day along with co-star and on-screen love interest Rooney Mara. That's enough about the Gos for now, you can keep up with all of the sightings over at Ryan Gosling at Fun Fun Fun Fest.

I headed back to the Orange stage in time to hear a few songs from the Heartless Bastards who were putting on a clinic for the younger bands on how to shred at a music festival. Erika from the Bastards has such a powerful voice and when you match that up with the power of their rhythm section mountains are moved.

Following the Bastards was the punk-energy of, Portland Oregon's, The Thermals. They had the crowd moshing, crowd-surfing, clapping, fist-pumping and losing their shit. The drummer from The Thermals jumped up from his kit a couple of times to run to the front edge of the stage so get the crowd hyped. At one point he actually jumped into the photo pit to try and participate in the mosh pit from the other side of the barrier. They had great energy on stage and great stage banter, they could use some new T-shirts though, theirs looked pretty yellowed and hole-ridden.

Black Joe Lewis followed The Thermals and they brought some serious rock. It wasn't the sort of quick-fire punk that I heard from The Thermals but it was certainly a long journey from the more laid-back approach to soul that I first heard from them. Don't get me wrong, they still play soul-inspired music but now it's a roadhouse soul with a lot more Blues overtones. I was completely impressed, especially considering how many times I've seen Black Joe Lewis in the past.

As the sun set I caught a high-energy set from Okkervil River. Like Black Joe I've seen them perform many times but unlike Black Joe's set there weren't too many surprises. I don't mean that to be a criticism, there is something to be said for consistency and their closing trio of Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe, Lost Coastlines and Unless it Kick is always a crowd-pleaser. Actually, that's an understatement that trio of songs brings the motherfuckin' house down, especially at a hometown show.

I was very excited to see Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, whom I hadn't seen perform since their first album was released. Their set was a blend of old and new, almost alternating precisely with the even numbered songs on the set list being the new ones. Like most people in the crowd, I was most excited to hear the songs from their debut. The band sounded great and they definitely showed less stage-fright than when I saw them several years ago but the vocal mix was not ideal. I'm not blaming the sound-techs though because I suspect the lead singer was backing away from the mic on the harder to hit notes and/or singing with less force when he was less sure of himself.

I almost forgot to mention that I saw Big Freedia and part of Spank Rock's sets. Both of which were absolutely filthy, fun, amazing. My only critique is that Big Freedia needs to tour with risers so the people in the back of the crowd can see her dancers shaking their asses. It's truly the most amazing thing I have ever seen in a live-music setting and needs to be enjoyed by all.

The close of my day was with Four Tet who had an amazing light show and did an outstanding job controlling the crowd with a set that built into a throw-down dance party. He was followed up by a, more hype than substance, set from Public Enemy who had a tight live band paired with a lackluster lip-syncing Flavor Flav. Chuck D was on point and the songs were absolutely chaotic in the best possible way but after so many fantastic performances it sort of seemed like a bunch of people on stage trying to get a paycheck and Chuck D.

This got really wordy and for that I apologize, now I'm off for Day 2! See you at Auditorium Shores!!
Read more!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Nites Preview: Chapter 24

FunFunFun Fest starts tomorrow y'all!! I have that Christmas eve feeling and I'm already in my footie pajamas. If you haven't picked up your passes yet, you may do so TONIGHT down at Club De Ville starting at 6pm. You can also buy tickets down there if you've been procrastinating. Tonight's the only night you can get into the Nites shows without a wristband but I'd recommend you just grab your wristband and then head next door to catch Ty Segall and The Coathangers at the Mohawk. Or, maybe, skip down the road to Empire Automotive for a DJ set from Passion Pit. You could even enjoy the Check Yo Ponytail DJ's across from Empire at Beauty Bar. That Nites link above has the full listing or you can see what I recommend by checking out my schedule on the FunFunFun Fest website.

Speaking of the Nites shows I want to draw your attention to one of the last after-shows of the festival. It's actually the Sunday night after the festival and it's going down at Beerland. One of my favorite bands from SXSW 2011 is in Austin all the way from London and their sound is bratty, jangly, fast and perfect. They don't play shows in the U.S. very much, so don't miss out on a rare opportunity to see a totally unpredictable performance from Chapter 24.

Chapter 24 - You Said video via YouTube

Chapter 24 are actually touring with Thee Oh Sees right now, so that's who is headlining the Nites show at Beerland. They play second, so I'd expect them to start around 10:15 or 10:30. I have to work early the next morning but I'm still going to be there. As far as I know, Chapter 24 is still unsigned in the U.S. but you can listen to their EP on Spotify if you want to get a little preview. There are only four songs on there and half of them are in this post, I think you should just join me at Beerland on Sunday.

Chapter 24 - Blisland to Cry video via YouTube

Sunday. Chapter 24. Beerland. Be there!

Read more!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Preview: M83

If you already follow me on Twitter then you already know how excited I am to see M83 at FunFunFun Fest. I'm not going to pretend I've loved them since their first album came out but I have been on the M83 train since Before the Dawn Heels Us. I saw them perform at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston during that tour and I will never forget it. Firstly, in that instance I was expecting a couple of dudes with sequencers, synthesizers, turntables and the like. Instead, it was a full four piece band including a drummer wearing headphones with a click-track. The drum fills were breath-taking and the bass guitar was right on point. The thing that stands out the most was something I have yet to see recreated at another show. One of the band members had something that looked like a screwdriver attached to a capo attached to the neck of his guitar. He hit the head of the screw driver, bouncing the metal part of the tool against the neck of the guitar, which he proceeded to move up and down the neck of the guitar. The sound it produced was something I always assumed was some form of keyboard instrument. Their songs sound huge and nostalgic and gorgeous and I can not wait to hear them performed in front of a massive audience in an outdoor setting.

M83 - Midnight City video via YouTube

I feel like I've written this phrase a lot lately BUT the newest album from M83 is called, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming and it WILL be on my best albums of 2011 list. If you haven't listened to it yet, you can hear it on Spotify but I can assure you that it is a different experience listening to it on vinyl. It is a 2 LP set and each side is its own perfect moment. The last song on each side is the perfect side closer and the converse is true of each of the 4 side openers. Personally, I bought the fancy colored vinyl edition, which is an Urban Outfitters exclusive. Don't expect to walk into your local Urban Outfitters and find it in stock. The people at the store seem to have no clue and I know the Austin stores don't have it in stock. However, have them order it for you in store and it shows up at your house a couple of days later without shipping and handling charges. Or, you could (and should) just support your local record shop, they'll have the CD or vinyl copies of the new LP IN STOCK and they'll be able to talk to you about it.

M83 - Raconte-Moi Une Historie video via YouTube

You'll find M83 on the Orange stage around dinner time on Saturday of Fun Fest. They're set starts at 5:45 pm and if you don't have tickets or worse, you have tickets and you miss their set, then we are not friends anymore. Ok, that's kind of harsh, I don't know your financial situation BUT if you miss M83 in Austin this Saturday then we're definitely in a fight.

Read more!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FunFunFun Fest Preview: Big Freedia

If you STILL haven't been a part of the live Big Freedia experience then you are definitely missing out. Austin and Big Freedia have had an ongoing love affair for a few years now. My most memorable experience with the ass-travaganza that is a live Big Freedia show was, actually, at last year's FunFunFun Fest. No words, music videos or listens on C.D. could ever prepare a person for the sort of ass-induced chaos that will explode when Big Freedia takes the stage. There will be people on every visible surface with their backs to you shaking their asses in the most pornographically, rhythmic fashion you can imagine. There will be boys, girls, transgendered folks, professional dancers and fans on stage, side stage, on the sound monitors on the speak stacks and all through the crowd making their ass cheeks do things that you've only heard about.

Big Freedia - Get Back video via YouTube

If you can read this, then you need to be inside the Mohawk Friday night to experience the Fun Fest Nites after-party with Big Freedia. That room is going to explode with energy, people are going to be packed in ridiculously tight, then the booty-shakin's gonna begin. It promises to be the kind of experience you don't tell your grand-kids about but kind of wish you could. Each time I see a Big Freedia performance my face hurts from smiling so big. Keep in mind, her sets demand participation for maximum enjoyment, so put on your sequence-covered booty shorts and leave your shame and hesitation outside.

Big Freedia - Excuse video via YouTube

At Fun Fest itself, you'll find Big Freedia on the Blue stage. Her set starts at 6:05pm, right before Spank Rock, with whom she has a new song. I'm sure you can expect some guesting in one or both of those sets.

Spank Rock featuring Big Freedia - Nasty video via YouTube

Read more!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Swalloween TONIGHT!!

I'm guessing a lot of you already did all kinds of Halloween parties over the weekend but guess what? As soon as you attend the 2nd annual Swalloween Bash hosted by the Glitoris you're going to realize how lame those other parties were. Our friends over at the Glitoris do NOT mess around when it comes to a serious dance party, in case you hadn't heard they are the city of Austin's choice for "Best Club Night" according to the Austin Chronicle Best of 2011 issue.

It's going to be a costume party so this is your last chance of the year to show how creative/slutty/interesting you can look for Halloween 2011. In other words, if you show up wearing standard street clothes you're going to look like a fool. The whole thing kicks-off at 10pm tonight at Barbarella. If you show up before midnight there's no cover charge but if you arrive at midnight or later, you'll have to pay a $3 cover. I can tell you, from experience, the bar areas are going to be insanely busy to I HIGHLY encourage those of you with smartphones (all of you) to download Tabbed Out. That will allow you to close your bar tab with your phone, which means no leaving your credit card behind the bar and no trying to get the bartenders attention at 2:15 in the morning. This site is not sponsored by Tabbed Out, I'm just sayin' it's a good idea to use it.

In addition to music from the Glitoris you will also hear a set by, Austin's greatest party photographer and bad-ass DJ, ulovei. Expect unShazaamable dance-hits from the future from the folks at Glitoris and a mixed bag of classics and new-jams from ulovei. This party is sponsored by the amazing Knuckle Rumbler crew as well as those beautiful, mysterious folks over at Sleeping W/Strangers. All in all you couldn't ask for a better crew of party-purveyors in Austin. Come early, stay late.

Read more!

FunFunFunFest Preview: TV Torso

Can you believe FunFunFun Fest starts this Friday? It seems like only yesterday we were all chillin' in that room watching the line-up announcement roll-out. You've got a few days of work and then it's time to get silly down at Auditorium Shores. If you didn't get your tickets in time for them to be shipped to your house, you can pick them up as early as 6pm Wednesday night over at Club De Ville. That's probably a good time to grab your wristband since you can still park downtown on Wednesdays without feeding the emeff parking meters.

Today, I want to encourage you to arrive at Fun Fest when the gates open on Friday because one of my favorite Austin bands is kicking things off on the Orange stage at 12:30pm. I don't know if you're going to have to call in sick at work or just not show-up at all but you best get on the bus and get your ass to the park in time for TV Torso. So far, they've released two 7" singles and one long EP. The EP is available in the name your own price model via the band's bandcamp page but I encourage you to grab a physical 12" at End of an Ear. I saw it there the other day for less than $15.

If you have never seen TV Torso perform live then you are certainly in for a treat. Band leader Matt Oliver is an audiophile with a love for actual tape and this love for that nostalgic sound translates perfectly to the live experience. Their songs are tightly arranged, and have an instantly classic sound. The band sounds like a collective of studio-hands whose love for the music pours from the amplifiers. I can think of no one better to kick-off your FunFunFun Festival weekend than TV Torso.

TV Torso - The Black Mask video via YouTube

Read more!