Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 1 Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 1


Pictures and Words by Charles Nickles
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It’s noon on a Thursday. I’ve just landed in Austin with my girlfriend and the last miserable throes of a cold or a flu or whatever psychosomatic pain in the ass I’m secretly inclined towards this month…so I’m shaky with no sleep, prescription antihistamines and the lingering suspicion that the bearded loner from 30 Days of Night just killed my computer trying to fit his bloated rucksack in between my Freitag and some poor travelling salesman’s life (there was much slamming and, tomorrow, I will be proven right).

I never liked flying.

We get off the plane, shuffle past all the plaids, tattoos and moustaches who’ve been talking about who they know or why they’re playing Fun Fun Fun Fest (according to the seat behind us, Jimmy Gestapo is a raging bitch of a roommate) into a cab operated by a man head-to-toe in Longhorns paraphernalia with a cleft palette, an underbite and a whole lotta “jokes.”

“I should’ve been a comedian,” he lisps. Garbles? “For Halloween, I wanted to go as gay Rick Perry. Rick Perry in a dress…but I don’t think anyone in Austin would get it.”

“You should take that up to Irving, where my dad lives.”

“Oh yeah. They’d kill me up in Irving. But I’d say, ‘Hey, you can’t kill me. I’m the governor!’”

hiss! hiss! hiss!

“We just lost power.”

There is a faint whiff of ozone. The dashboard is black. We buckle our seatbelts.

“What?”

“The car doesn’t want to accelerate anymore. You think we should get off the highway?”

We’re coasting. Our driver turns to face me.

“Hey, man. You know. It’s your cab. Do whatever you think is right.”

“It’s not my cab.”

We spend the next half an hour in the parking lot of the Chuck E Cheese (which, for some reason, our driver refuses to acknowledge as he radios for assistance referring to it simply as “that pizza place by the highway” despite that giant fucking rat staring down on us) trading bitches and moans about the weather (I am to blame, my girlfriend assures him, for the day’s unexpectedly dramatic drop in temperature) and property owners (“they just don’t give a fuck and then it’s broke”) until another cab shows up and we wish each other well and I pay him the full fare.

Pictured: Mockery!

We drop off our shit at a palatial rental called Jessie’s Place where we’ll be staying in a backyard bungalow that is soon (and for the whole weekend) to be referred to as “The Pop Off Shack™” (my friend, Kwame offers to arm wrestle me for the rights to the master bedroom but he’s big and strong and I, for the most part, am a pussy). It’s nice. Tucked away just off South Lamar in a suburban enclave with totally reasonable rates.

Ribs happen next as is to be expected (beef and baby back at Artz…the baby backs were better) and beers. Friends filter in. More beers. Cigarettes. Chitter chatter and jibber jabber about who we’re most excited to see. Hot Snakes and Hum rule the domicile. Slayer and Big Freedia come next. Spank Rock is mentioned along with The Joy Formidable. There’s some talk of Spoon but no one hears it because seriously, man…FUCK that band.

Our new friend Peggy (friend of a friend from the internet) shows up to get her wristband. She brings with her two half racks and an assortment of cozies in her bag (she has one for every beverage…we love her). Gives us BBQ tips and convinces us there is no band playing the festival more important than the Murder City Devils before promising to keep us in beer for the duration of the rock.

(We will not see her again)

We all crash out around midnight. More folks are coming but they can figure it out. There’s three day of rocking ahead and these festivals last a long time so rest is as imperative as B12, Advil and a reliable source of fresh coffee.

Strange dreams and unstoppable shivers the first night in the Pop Off Shack™. Glad I’m not alone in there. Can’t help but thinking our driver lives somewhere in the woods behind the fence and has spent the whole night mouth-breathing on our windows while stitching himself a frilly white dress.

Not Pictured: Popping Off.

Up at 8:30. Make coffee. Cough. The couch girls are up which is amazing since they went straight from the airport to hang out with a bunch of young such twenty-somethings at the bar while the rest of us curled up all drunk and sensible. I guess some people just keep better than others.

Shit. Shower. Slouch. Get dressed and drink green powder (a secret salvation for those of us who know our assholes need veg when all we eat is fat, fried or adult beverages). When I step outside our friends have already amassed a small army of empties. Lone Stars, Modelo Lights and Buds.

I guess bottles are an evening treat. It’s currently 11am.

I leave around noon to suss out the situation. Get a lay of the land, the bands, the distance and maybe land a snack before throwing myself headlong into a four-stage festival sporting 200 acts. The table outside is full of crushed cans and a makeshift bowl. I debate a pounder. Decide against. It may be cold but the sun is out and it’s easy to get dehydrated in Texas.

It’s about twenty minutes to the venue (we can hear Passion Pit soundcheck from the house). I check in with a lovely Giant Noise employee who, I think is named Sonya. Get my wristband. Head in.

Shit, this place is big.

Roughly half a mile from the entrance to end, Auditorium Shores is a dusty sprawl of stages, tents and whatever miscreants would take the day off work to get each and every inch of rock and roll out of an overloaded lineup.

(and those of us who flew in yesterday and didn’t feel like getting tore up this morning)

I really don’t know what to do right now. There aren’t any bands I want to see and I’m terrified of leading myself into the same achy, restless quagmire I fell into when I decided I needed to shoot every fucking band at Riot Fest East (and I was wearing sensible shoes that day) so I light a cigarette, take a breath and start a nice, slow wandering.

There aren’t many kids here but there are loads of posters for sale and all the Heineken you can shake a dick at. I find a Maximum Tecate for nine bucks and decide this will be my out and about weekend beverage.

(you could do worse on the road)

Pictured: Sanctuary.

There’s a mechanical bull (which I only see occupied twice the whole weekend which is a total shame as mechanical bulls are priceless entertainment for drunk chicks and idiots [I TOTALLY should’ve ridden it]). A skate/BMX ramp in development. There’s something called the El Camino Lounge which is a small graveyard of bitchin’ 70s rides and will become a haven for folks looking to avoid dust while they dine on delicious Korean Tacos, cupcakes or the world’s best falafel (seriously, that truck had no fewer than twelve people on line at any given time) though, disappointingly, only features one fucking El Camino.

It does have a Gremlin…so that’s something.

Shortly before 1, I decide to check out Fat Tony. Somebody, at some point, told me Fat Tony was Kool Keith but he isn’t. His secondary MC sure does smoke a lot though and, for some reason, I find that incredibly charming. I take some pictures. Couldn’t tell you a goddamn thing about his set because I don’t know much about hip hop outside of Public Enemy and I only really know them by Anthrax proxy.

I think he has a song called “Buy My Shit.” If he doesn’t, he sure does reiterate the phrase a lot. They also have a brass and string section which I’m just going to go ahead and assume is a reference to the Simpsons episode with Cypress Hill and Peter Frampton.

Fat Tony

That was on the Blue Stage. I walk a quarter mile to the black to see a band called Total Control. I think they’re Aussie. Have some members of Eddy Current Suppression Ring and are totally grumpy pissants.

They also have a split with Thee Oh Sees which is worth a lot in the right crowd.

I like them. Feel like the singer’s done well researching his no wave disaffection threat which totally works for me on a beautiful day in Texas.

Snap. Snap.

I should’ve bought their t-shirt.

Total Control:

I see Mind Spiders next because I’m still at the Black Stage and don’t really feel like walking to see anything else. I don’t know if they’re disappointing since I have no frame of context for who they are or what they do (other than that writeup I did last week) but there are a lot of folks on stage for making a pretty linear pop-punk racket and the bassist is totally playing the missing Ramone and the other guitar player looks fucking terrified. I think the singer’s someone but I don’t know who.

Mind Spider looking fearful

I get to walking again and towards the entrance find a wrestling ring (the squared circle in preferred nomenclature)…OH SHIT! RAZZLIN! ANARCHY CHAMPIONSHIP RAZZLIN!

I love wrestling and have since I was a kid. I know most, if not all, of it is fake. I don’t care. If America can give a fuck who Kim Kardashian weds and lays, I can have a soft spot in my heart for beefy guys in spandex.

“Do you think this is going to be the fake stuff?” some skinny thing in aviators asks me.

“I don’t know…probably.”

“Ew. That’s bullshit.”

“No it’s not. It’s awesome.”

“Whatever. I only watch ECW.”

“Fuuuuuuuuck YOU!” pipes up a dude who looks a whole helluva lot like my ex-girlfriend’s little hippie brother as the condescender walks away in disgust. Only this dude is no hippie. This dude is awesome and we should totally be Tecate friends.

“This is gonna be the best thing I’ve seen today, huh?”

“Fuck yes, it is, dude. I see this guys once a month, at least.”

“Awesome.”

“Awesome.”

And then there was wrestling. Sweaty, silly, spandexed, choreographed wrestling and I loved it and then my girlfriend showed up and then I spied my drunken friends and everything felt perfect.

Anarchy Championship Wrestling

So, we went to see Bane.

Yeah. I don’t know either.

Bane is a fucking hardcore band from fucking Massachusettes, I think. They have some of the worst skin I’ve ever seen but, MAN do the kids go apeshit for them.

I really don’t get it. I mean, I kinda do. I was young and furious once and loved the opportunity to get punched in the face by strangers but there’s just something about watching a bunch of dumpy once and former jocks in baggy shorts and baseball caps that just fucking turns me off. Not that I need fashion to rock. I just need to feel like, in some small way, the band on stage wouldn’t take the opportunity to crack my skull open with a lacrosse stick if there wasn’t so much security around.

Bane

Speaking of which, the security at this festival was fucking awesome. I know this is something of an aside which I may or may not return to later on but the guys keeping the kids in line were some of the kindest, most patient and efficient motherfuckers I have ever had the pleasure to see in action.

One of them even gave me sunscreen.

After the first three, I go back to my friends. Jeff is fucking wasted. Kwame informs me he had to clock him a few minutes ago to keep him from wiling out (which, I guess, was effective). His girlfriend is desperately trying to get him to drink and Honest Tea.

He’s having none of it.

“Charles…CHARLES! I need you…to…I need you to fucking drink this…man. It’s good.”

“No…I’m good. You drink it.”

“No…fuck…Charles…CHARLES…I’m telling you to ffffnnn drink this.”

We both ponder the bottle in our own special ways.

I decide to go see D Generation.

I never liked D Generation.

You see, there was a time in NYC when D Generation where kings. Everybody loved them. They wore the best clothes, threw the best parties (next to Squeezebox, of course) and pumped out a brand of glam trash that put St. Mark’s on the map. Girls wanted to do them. Guys wanted to be them.

And I just wanted them to go away which, mercifully, they did for twelve years while assorted members went on to become junkie luminaries, pseudo folk singers, guitarists for Danzig and…well…old.

And there’s no glam in aging unless you’re Sophia Loren.

I’ll be honest, though. If you liked what D Generation was doing way back when then you would’ve enjoyed the hell out of their performance. They were tight, marginally manic and apparently played the hits.

Also, I think Howie Pyro was on our plane in.

D Generation

Half a mile to The Thermals. My first band on the Orange Stage. They’re The Thermals. Fast, fun and impeccable. This is the only band I’ve ever seen multiple times that always sounded perfect. It’s kind of creepy, really. Every time I see them I just want them to freak out and break shit and scream and…I don’t know…ROCK! But they do rock in a wholly efficacious manner. No chit chat. No nonsense. Just song after song after song.

Not unlike the Ramones, I guess only these darling ones would never steal your glue stash.

The Thermals

I grab a snack and head over to shoot Thee Oh Sees (though I do manage to catch some of Ty Segall who isn’t half bad but isn’t nearly as mind-fucking, rock revival as I’ve heard suggested). They scare me. Two drummers (really?) a keyboardist, a nutbag and a skinhead. Yes, skinhead. I kepy my eyes on the prison tattooed singer (the aforementioned nutbag) pretty much the whole time but I couldn’t help but feel like that shaved head/braces cat was just biding his time until the next race riot. I know that’s judgmental. Man might just like Oi! but I don’t care. You dress like a bigot punter and you get judged accordingly. If you don’t, then let me wear swastikas and talk to you about the Zen of antiquity.

That’s what I thought.

Pretty fucking righteous, regardless. Go see them in a basement and get your panties melted.

Thee Oh Sees

I need a beer.

And I need Big Freedia.

Big Freedia.

Man…

The Queen Diva of Bounce. The undisputed motherfucking, shit-hot sissy of New Orleans who would cut a bitch if he/she had to put would rather just get every last living ass up in the air (which for “Azz Everywhere!” she/he tried and almost succeeded) with a single Indian tear and nothing but love for party and people and…man…I think Big Freedia might be one of the best things to ever happen to me.

I mean, I knew I should check him/her out but I was basing my assessment on hearsay and now, a week some later, I can’t stop fucking smiling.

And THAT is what’s amazing about a musical festival. You set your template. You choose your schedule and your stages. You meet out your food and drink so you can make it to the headliner who you’re just fucking dying to see and it’s one of those little footnotes that makes your day, your weekend, your life.

I love you Big Freedia. We all do.

You’re fucking filthy and totally beautiful.

Big Freedia

I stuck around the Blue Stage for Spank Rock because I wasn’t about to listen to some proggy noodling from Russian Circles after that ass/love spectacular. Nor did I have any interest in indie rock. I wanted to party. I wanted beats and love and WHOOO! and though I’d seen Spank Rock before (at Coney Island) and was sorely disappointed, I had a funny feeling my man wouldn’t let us down.

He didn’t.

Dirty rhymes and Dwayne Wayne aesthetic. Fucking fun, man. Fucking REALLY fun. Big Freedia came out for some extra love. It’s hard to do Spank Rock justice after the orgy of awesome that I just saw but let’s suffice it to say that there is still, despite all the pomp and violence of hip hop, a place for the nerdy, ribald troublemaker and Spank Rock has capitalized on that opportunity.

Fuck Odd Future.

I only wish Amanda Blank had joined them on stage.

Spank Rock

Dusk comes next. Another beer. Another taco. We run into our friends Oliver and MK (all others are lost) who are, in turn with their friend Brandon Gentry who you may know as one of Pinpoint’s best motherfucking new writers.

Hugs and toasts.

“Where’s Peggy?”

Shrugs.

The Murder City Devils play next.

I really like The Murder City Devils and I really wish there was a time when I’d seen them at a small place (I did, technically, but that was at Wetlands in the 90s so “seeing” is used incredibly loosely…also, I left early on account of some A&R guy named Danny who really wanted to sign my friend’s punk band and/or fuck my girlfriend at the time) when all our lives were just whiskey and fire and falling down, forgetting the lyrics and being an overly bearded, pot-bellied, half-midget was…um…cool?

But I didn’t.

And The Murder City Devils suck live.

Let me amend that. The Murder City Devils as a band are a grinding force of drunken remorse who could and should kick the ever-loving shit out of any band you ever thought was tough (I’m looking at you, Bane). Spencer Moody, their singer, is fucking worthless.

Not Pictured: Peggy, Sobriety.

Speaking of worthless…

By now you’ve probably all read about what a worthless, melodramatic little bitch-ass pud Glenn Danzig is (and I LOVE French Onion Soup) but I was THERE, man and here’s, more or less how it happened:

All right, you remember how I mentioned our friends Oliver and MK earlier? Yeah, well we’ve been seeing Danzig every year for the past three years right around Halloween. It’s an unexpected metal tradition. So we were all pretty psyched to see his Legacy performance. Sure, there’s a LOT of his canon that we could give two fucks about but his first three albums are pretty amazing and Samhain wears blood and MISFITS!

We have fresh drinks and oodles of anticipation.

MISFITS!

The stage is set with all sorts of Marshall stacks and a drummer riser and a Danzig banner and the soundcheck is so loud it hurts our teeth 200 feet away and…

MISFITS! WE’RE GONNA SEE THE MISFITS!

…we wait. We wait and we wait and we wait and minutes pass by and half an hour and people are leaving to go see Public Enemy and when they come back they tell their friends how PE is killing it and then they leave and we move up and fuck them, anyway because MISFITS!

And it’s fort-five minutes.

An hour?

Danzig comes on stage. Crowd goes ape.

He plays an unfamiliar track and then a new song.

This is gonna suck.

Pictured: A healthy Glenn Danzig.

Oliver and I take a piss during “Twist of Cain” (the first song we give a shit about) and decide to cash in our Sailor Jerry rum tickets. I dump my drink after two sips and get another Tecate (yum!). At some point Danzig, clad head to toe in leather and mesh, bitches about the weather.

“You guys cold out there or what?!!?”

What?

Samhain transfer and Danzig comes out in a leather mask for some reason. One of the dude smears some blood on him. They’re awful. So awful, in fact, that it takes to the chorus of “Horror Business” for me to realize I’m hearing one of my favorite Misfits songs.

MISFTIS!

Oliver and my girlfriend go to watch Public Enemy leaving MK and I to pine.

“They’re gonna be soooooo pissed when they play the whole Misfits catalog and they’re watching fucking Public Enemy.”

MK agrees.

“It is kinda getting late, though, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” I say. “But Misfits songs are short so we’re good.”

Banner changes…sorta. There’s Doyle. MISFITS!

“Death Comes Ripping”

Okay, that’s a decent starter. Not my favorite but there’s so much of the Misftis they’ll play and our minds will be blown and…um…Danzig’s complaining again. I can’t tell if it’s about the weather or the set or the sound or what the fuck all but Doyle looks displeased and the rest of the band is confused Danzig sets to rambling.

“We wanted to do a lot more songs for you but they’re telling us they’re gonna shut our power of in five minutes. Don’t blame me. We’re here to play, motherfuckers. We traveled halfway across the country to play for you guys….You want to hear more, right? Fuck yeah! I guess they’ve never heard of a thing called a riot before.”

More bitching and then “Vampira”.

Really?

More moaning.

“It looks like Wile E. Coyote but this fucking stage together and got all the parts from Acme.”

And with that, Danzig disappears into a bag of kitty litter. Doyle lingers on stage for a minute, then bails. The rest of the band remains on stage to try and incite some sort of something but it’s useless.

The sound is off. The set is done.

There’s some “riot” chants but nothing special.

Danzig fucking sucks.

MK and I meet up with our significant others and hear all about how Public Enemy killed it. I knew they would. I knew I should’ve just walked away and seen Flavor Flav introduce his grandson to the strains of “Fight the Power” (I might be wrong on some of that) but I needed to see Danzig through. I needed to know this was the end of his era, of our tradition.

The next day, over Tecate, Kwame will opine, “You know, it’s ironic that this was called The Danzig Legacy and that was his fucking legacy.”

“What? That he’s a fucking pussy?”

“Exactly.”

Ed. Note: To see the rest of our (mostly) complete coverage of Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 (including photos of Slayer, Hot Snakes, Cold Cave and Mates of State), please see Day 2 and Day 3.



2 Responses about “Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 1”

  • rowe says:

    “Theyre gonna be so pissed when they play the whole Misfits catalog”–literally lol’d. As always Charles, amazing. Great pix man. Just got real psyched for SXSW.

  • Charles says:

    WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! (thanks, man)