Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 2 Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 2

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Words and Photos by Charles Nickles

Since my computer’s dead, I miss the joyous flame war that erupts on Facebook the next morning between disgruntled Danzig aficionados, festival staff and the rest of the internet. Our new (magically disappearing) friend Peggy texts me that his new nickname is “Glenn Stefani.”

We discuss over beers and coffee.

“I can’t believe you stuck around for that shit.”

“I know. I know. Public Enemy killed it.”

“Passion Pit were fucking great.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn. I just had to, you know. I had to see it through. I figured if I heard everyone tell me how great Public Enemy or Passion Pit, I guess were when I was standing there waiting for Danzig to suck it would be one thing but if I went over and found out for myself, I’d be pissed that I wasted my life.”

“That doesn’t make any sense, Charles.”

“I know, but I’m glad I did it.”

“Are you, Charles?”

“Probably not.”

Pictured: Discourse.

We all get to the festival around 12:45 because I’ve convinced everyone that we need to see B L A C K I E, Future Islands and Death Grips (whose MC scares me shitless) but when we arrive we can’t find B L A C K I E anywhere. He’s supposed to play the Blue Stage…they don’t have him listed and tell me to try the Black. Black Stage doesn’t have any notion of a B L A C K I E so I head on back to Blue just in case.

“Is that B L A C K I E?”

No.

There is a pale, redheaded man hunched over a harp whispering some falsetto sonnet next to a keyboardist who looks like he just saw a puppy cry.

This couldn’t be less B L A C K I E if it tried.

Turns out it’s Active Child and it turns out I don’t much have a place for them in my life.

Active Child (or NOT B L A C K I E)

Where the fuck is B L A C K I E? Did we miss him? Is he dead? What the shit? He’s not playing the Black Stage, that’s definitely not him on the Blue (Seriously, Active Child…what the fuck are you doing? Stop it, dude. It’s noon.) and there’s no way in hell they’d cram his shot ghetto blaster attack over on the Orange.

Besides, over there it’s Future Islands time.

Now, it’s no secret that we, at Pinpoint, have an arty hardon for Future Islands. Their music is heavy and gorgeous in a slow dance by the light of a kiln sort of way and their singer is one hell of a Beefheart crooner and I think I might have seen them before at the Baltimore Round Robin but, if I did, they didn’t leave any lasting, live effect on me.

Which means I must have been really, really, inexcusably drunk because these cats are fucking amazing and nothing in the slightest bit as mournful as their records might, at times suggest.

I guess you could call them “passionate” but there really aren’t smug quotation marks large enough to relay just how fucking intense a performer, Samuel T. Herring is.

I mean, just look at the pictures.

Future Islands

He wails and grunts and groans and howls and thrashes about the stage like a man possessed by the last fertile passions of a dying rhinocerous. His voice is a baritone whirlwind.

I’d dare say he’s a little unhinged, actually and I understand why our fearless leader, Ben has recently compared his style to a meaty Mike Patton which is a weird thing to see in such broad daylight especially when compared to the relative stoicism of his two band mates but I guess when you have a dude who feels it as frantically as Sam, there’s really nothing for you to do but shut the fuck up and play.

I think my friends hate it.

“What the fuck is he DOING?!”

“I don’t know but I love it.”

Kwame raises a claw to the sky and goes “OOOOOOHHHHHWWHHHAAAAAAOOOOOHHOOOOOUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHH!!!”

“You’re right. You’re right. Still, though…you want to go see Death Grips?”

“Is that the scary guy?”

“YEAH!”

“Okay.”

I walk off, solo and find myself back at the Black Stage just in time to catch Touche Amore who…I don’t know…I guess they’re okay. Fractured emotions for the young. It’s funny to consider how their style of emotive hardcore used to be so important to me. I guess I had a lot of feelings that needed to be alternately whined and screamed. They have a pretty decent reputation of being incendiary live and our lost scribe, Jesse thought their last album was the best thing to happen to hardcore in years.

I think it’s interesting that I’d only seen two people at this festival wearing black nail polish and both of them were frontmen.

Also, I’m starting to believe that baby fat is the new black.

Touche Amore

“MY NAME IS BLACKIE…ALL CAPS, WITH SPACES…AND I AIN’T SELLIN’ SHIT! MY NAME IS BLACKIE!”

There’s a kid with an overbite in boxer briefs and Doc Martins standing on the stage adjacent to Touche (it should be noted, if it hasn’t been already, that the Blue, Orange and Black Stages are actually each comprised of two separate stages to ensure a constant flow of sound and fury except, you know, for that Danzig nonsense). I realize he’s actually been there a while, kneeling with his eyes fixed in the distance. I think I thought he was a roadie (though roadies are pretty well known for their pants) or a drummer but he’s not.

He’s fucking B L A C K I E!

There’s a quick burst of feedback, a sickening blast beat (think less Napalm Death and more TG) and then B L A C K I E begins his exorcism. It’s a post-industrial noise/hip hop hybrid though you wouldn’t cite B L A C K I E for his ability to flow. No. He says he raps but his lyrics offer nothing in the vein of a cultural popularized by materialism and referential codependency and his delivery is furious, paranoid and cathartic.

He throws himself into the crowd, rolls around at their feet, pounds his chest and screams until his lips cake with dust and spit and he’s invoked Joan of Arc, the Illuminati, his mother’s affection and his own impotence in a world of abstract violence.

“MY NAME IS BLACKIE…ALL CAPS, WITH SPACES…AND IF YOU THINK I GIVE A FUCK, YOU’RE FUCKING WRONG AND IF YOU THINK YOU GIVE A FUCK, YOU’RE FUCKING LYING. MY NAME IS BLACKE!!!”

Yes it is.

And you’ve produced the most singular, honest and thrilling performance I’ve seen in years.

B L A C K I E

Death Grips play next and though, sonically and thematically that makes a lot of sense (both Death Grips and B L A C K I E dig deep into the burning waters of no wave loathing to invoke a stomp/beat/scree that is as confrontational as it is self-destructive [as I suppose you could argue that they self-destruction is the highest form of confrontation but that’s an ontological argument to be had another day]), I can’t help but be disappointed in their delivery.

Not that they don’t kill it. They do. And the heavily (and cryptically) tattooed MC Ride (the aforementioned “scary guy”) certainly belts his lines with a charismatic blend of (seeming) mental illness and rage.

Maybe it’s just that they’re a band. There’s some manner of safety in that. If the frontman fails, there’s still a noisemonger (Flatlander) on the keys and a drumming virtuoso (Zach Hill) to keep the performance on track. B L A C K I E was just one man, one mic and one sequencing pad. No boundaries. No nets. No fucking pants.

Death Grips

Maybe next time, Death Grips.

We all meet up for The Joy Formidable who, other than Hot Snakes, is the only band we can actually agree on today. Well, them and, as it turns out, B L A C K I E.

“You saw him?”

“Yeah, I saw him. We could hear him all the way from the Blue Stage.”

“My man was fucking ridiculous.”

“He was the dirtiest human being I’ve ever seen. I mean, literally dirty. He was like a fucking mud man.”

“I’m so glad I fucking saw that.”

“I don’t know if ‘glad’ is the right word but, yeah…we definitely saw it.”

Ben tells me I’ll be disappointed in The Joy Formidable live. I can’t imagine why. Sure, they’re not the most transgressive act I’ve ever seen but their influences aren’t overwhelming (I mean, they totally sound like 90s cute fuzz rock love but, at least they’re not the Jesus and Mary Chain or…heaven forbid…cold wave [we’ll get to that]) but that girl can sure play her fucking guitar and the drummer is a double-bass playing loon who adds just enough metal credence to their adorability (cute, blonde and Welsh must be a great way to go through life even if your language reads like arcane, consonant-happy Pig Latin [no offense]) to keep me from feeding their faces to Slayer.

I’m pretty sure they only have one record and I think they might’ve played all of it, out of order (to keep things fresh?) but I really just wanted to hear “Cradle” which I totally did and “Whirring” which they totally closed with as two giant, smiling black cat faces inflated on stage and the track blurred into feedback and drums and awesome.

And did you know the dude sang all the high parts? Because he does.

Fun in the sun, man. Fun in the sun.

The Joy Formidable

The next hour or so are a blur of dust and tacos (did I mention it was dusty? Because it was and despite wearing a bandana over my face for three days I’m still extricating traces of black snot from my face) then I meet Speedo.

Fuck yeah, I do.

He’s walking with all the Hot Snakes (save Rick, who I imagine is having an “adult nap” with his wife back at the hotel before checking in with his cat sitter). They’re all carrying new Adidas.

“Excuse me.”

He turns to me with those chiclet teeth and I show him my rocket tattoo (for those keeping track, I’ve been a member of Speedo’s Army since the year 2000 and have been fawning over the big man’s guitar heroics since 1993).

“Heeeey, all right, man. My name’s John.”

“Charles.”

We shake hands (I SHOOK SPEEDO’S HAND! THE HAND THAT PLAYED ‘LUAU”! THAT WROTE “STURDY WRISTS”!) and talk about rock and roll, how awesome it would be if Hot Snakes played with two drummers on stage (Mario and Jason are with him though he assures me they will not) and what a little bitch Glenn Danzig is.

“Man, he was awful.”

“That’s what I heard. And that he demanded a Wendy’s chicken sandwich and hot French onion soup and, like, made them send kitty litter to his house.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, man. Kitty litter.”

“Fuck that guy.”

“Yeah, man. Fuck Glenn Danzig.”

Pictured: Rider Stipulation.

There’s a quick beat and I can’t help the fanboy.

“Tonight’s gonna be fucking awesome, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, man. I hope so.”

“It will. We flew out from New York for this show.”

“Wow, man…where’d you get that Tecate?”

I advise him and scurry off, beaming like a drunk tween punk after his first all-ages stage dive. I find my friends watching Donald Glover. He’s funny and informative, explaining that there is, in fact a sign language expression for the phrase “niglet” (I searched the internet for verification of this fact and am now on a government watch list).

We grab another beer and realize, after a few sips that we kind of don’t give a shit about anything until Hot Snakes play. I’m sorry every band that isn’t Hot Snakes but, no matter how good you or I think you may be you’re just no match for Rick Froberg and company (I MET SPEEDO!).

Still, there’s some time between now and evening so we go and catch Youth Brigade who I think are Youth of Today (which, Melissa informs me, would actually be much cooler) or maybe I’m switching that up. Anyway, yeah. They played.

So did Dan Deacon but, for some reason I didn’t see him. Wugazi performed without Joe Lally (as I’d hoped would be awesome) and, for some reason, decided to mix their laptop mashup live which they fucked up just as I was walking by.

How do you fail your computer?

I think I might’ve seen some of Paint it Black or maybe M83 or maybe I just heard them from the back stage urinals (whose privilege of use, I can’t help but rub into everyone’s face…hee hee hee) and if I did they might have sounded great and not at all like I expected unless they were someone else in which case…um…I MET SPEEDO!

Pictured: M83?

Then I saw Cold Cave.

(the following is paraphrased from hearsay regarding a conversation that happened in my absence)

MK: Hey, Melissa, I think Charles just went to go see Cold Cave.

Melissa: I haaaaaaaaaaate…HATE Cold Cave.

MK: Does Charles like them?

Melissa: No.

And I don’t. I’ll be honest. They had that one song “Life Magazine” that I enjoyed but that was performed by some red headed lady who is no longer part of their gloomy output. I guess they replaced her with Dominic Fernow (who does a lot of hype-manning and dancing for a dude who makes Prurient records when he isn’t playing keyboard for Wesley Eisold [Remember when he used to scream? That was awesome.]). Max G. Morton isn’t even in the band anymore (which matters to me for some reason). So there’s really nothing here for me to enjoy musically but I always wanted to shoot a one-handed, cold (dark? Whatever.) waving, neuvo goth with a Hitler haircut and his number one, manic panic fan.

And I did.

Cold Cave

I stick around the Blue Stage to catch Kool Keith (who is replacing the broken-footed Rakim) because he’s fucking Kool Keith and who knows what kind of weirdness he’s about to bring to the table.

And I wait.

And I wait.

And a DJs playing and I can see Kool Keith walking to the stage and then back behind a fence and then to the stage and then behind a port-a-potty and then I get to thinking that Kool Keith isn’t about to let Danzig be the only brat of the weekend but then he eventually strolls up in a hat and glitter scarf and aviators and just kinda starts mumbling over a beat.

For some reason I want to give Kool Keith credit and try and tell myself that he’s performing a sort of anti-art routine but I think, in actuality he might just be sort of boring and a little old to be infectiously weird.

“Did he just say something about a dog drinking his piss? What the fuck? Where’s the Dr. Octagon shit?”

Kool Keith

I heard someone mention he did sometime after I left but I swiftly lost interest as I headed to the Black Stage in the vain hopes of getting into the Hot Snakes photo pit (the two headliners on each stage, each day required a special priority bracelet which we were unable to wrangle this year) and, as I wait on line, I get to hear Cave In who are considerably more ferocious than I ever would’ve thought.

I’m talking early Hydrahead heyday before all those post-hardcore/metal bands decided it was time to sing (never a good idea, guys. Sometimes, a scream is your only friend). Loud/Louder/LOUD! Good shit. They waned a little bit towards the end of their set but shit if I won’t leap at the chance to see them again for a good old skull crushing.

The security guard informs me that I don’t have priority in the photo pit and might not be able to get in. I tell him, I flew a thousand miles to see this band and I like my odds over everyone’s.

He smiles and pats me on the shoulder, tells me he’ll try and let me in after their first song. I think he winks but it’s night and he’s in sunglasses because when you’re the Fun Fun Fun Fest security staff, the sun shines on you twenty-four hours a DAY!

Seriously, I love these guys.

Pictured: Me + Fun Fun Fun Fest Security

Though, to be fair, at this point I fucking love everything. I’m about to see Hot Snakes. HOT SNAKES! And so is Jeff and Kwame and Melissa who has never seen them before and I don’t believe in our near six years together I’ve ever seen her this excited about anything which makes me so happy I can hardly breathe.

And then they play.

And they are amazing. AMAZING! The best I’ve ever seen them (and I saw them all but one time they played NYC from their first show at Mercury Lounge to their last at the Bowery). Speedo’s Speedo. Rick is actually animated and his voice sounds more desperate and powerful than ever. Gar is there somewhere (though he’s late getting to the stage) and Jason’s killing me with his pig tails.

And, good to his wink, after opener “I Hate the Kids” the security guard looks at me and shouts “HEY, IS THIS A NEW SONG?”

I nod furiously.

“Well, get the fuck in there, man.”

And I scurry in, twist and bully my way to a dozen different vantage points (few of which, it seems, were useful on account of the stage being dark and my camera lens not costing two grand). Click wildly, half blind. Singing at the top of my lungs the whole fucking time (I’m beginning to think this propensity of mine to sing along kinda pisses the other photographers off…too bad for them). And after two songs, I’m out and edge my way into the crowd trying to get as close to my girlfriend as I can because I want to experience this with her. This is Hot Snakes. This is OUR fucking band.

I get a few bodies away and I can see her with her fist in the air, matching Rick’s every screech through “XOX” (her favorite track) and I decide to stay where I am. This may be her only chance to see this band and I want her to have them all to herself.

When they switch over to Audit material, they switch Mario in and just fucking go for it.

(I’d like to recount every last track they played but I was so lost in the excitement of hearing all the songs, of singing them with my arms around new friends, of just the whole fucking thing that I’ve all but forgotten it. Is that a stupid thing to say?)

Towards the end a little girl comes dancing across the stage. Rick and Speedo assess the situation.

“If someone has a child to claim, we have one up here.. Um. She’s cute…and…”

“She’s safe. She’s not wearing ear protection but she’s safe. Just claim her after the show.”

The little girl joins Mario on drums for the last song, “Plenty for All.”

It’s good to be in Texas today.

I’m not entirely sure what to do now. That was the climax of my excursion. Sure, Slayer’s tomorrow and I just received an email from Hum’s tour manager that I’ll be able to shoot them (SWEEET!) but we came here for Hot Snakes and we fucking got them.

“I JUST SAW HOT SNAKES! WE JUST SAW HOT SNAKES! I JUST SAW HOT SNAKES!”

We try to see Major Lazer because we feel like perfect rock can only be followed by spectacle but after ten minutes of Diplo and a mohawked shadow shouting their name we decide maybe we might do better with a beer and The Damned.

I don’t know what song we walked in on but it’s great. I mean, really fucking great. The Damned have been playing together for 35 years and there’s not a thing about their performance that would suggest to me that they’re more than a few years out of their teens. They talk politics, throwing their full support behind Occupy Wall Street. They mock Danzig repeatedly. They play “Love Song.”

Hot Snakes are still on their stage watching in awe. Gar is going apeshit. He and Rick start a two man mosh.

They close the night with “Smash it Up.”

Fuck yes, they did.

On the walk home from the festival, after almost getting into a fight over two three-dollar bags of Frito’s (I don’t know, man. The rock blacked me out.) and with two sixers to our names we hear somebody run up to the kids behind us and ask “Hey, you guys want to go see a punk show?”

We’re sure someone’s about to get knifed.

“Nah, man. That’s cool. We’re cool.”

“No. No. It’s going on on a bridge like…now.”

“Nah…oh SHIT! That’s the nigga from Trash Talk.”

“Yeah. We’re playing tomorrow at 8.”

Pictured: Stranger danger?

We cross the street and he approaches, with his friends, to ask us the same.

“Maybe.”

“Dude, seriously. You should fucking do it.”

“Yo, is that beer?”

“Yeah.”

“We’re you get beer?”

“At the bodego.”

“Hey…um…can I have a beer?” asks the man who has twice stage dived right into my face.

“Sure.”

His friend chimes in.

“Um, can I have a beer too?”

“Can we have two beers for all of us?”

“Can we give you eight dollars for two beers?”

“Nah, that’s okay.”

I hand him two Lone Star Tall Boys. He shoves one in his pants and hands the other to his friend.

“Thanks, man. You should total see the punk rock show on the bridge, though. Seriously. Ceremony. Now.”

“I’ll try.”

“That’s awesome, man.”

They run away.

“Hey, my band’s playing tomorrow at 8!”

Ed. Note: To see the rest of our (mostly) complete coverage of Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 (including photos of Slayer, The Oh Sees, Mates of State and Big Freedia), please see Day 1 and Day 3.



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