Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 3 Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 – Day 3

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Words and Photos by Charles Nickes.

I stumble out of the Pop Off Shack™ with my first hangover of the trip (shocking, I know) just in time to watch an armadillo scurry across the yard. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one of those critters alive and debate catching it to show Melissa (who, along with the rest of the house is, sensibly, sleeping soundly) but know that if I can’t even cum before coffee, then there’s no way in fuck I’m catching a wild animal so under the house it goes.

I hear Madonna’s first album (Greatest Hits?) blasting from the festival grounds and tell myself it’s Slayer’s soundcheck

Today is going to be a good day.

Pictured: Metal.

Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Shower and I’m READY! Hum is playing today. SLAYER! No one appears to share my enthusiasm which isn’t wholly out of the ordinary. When we went to Touch and Go’s three-day 25th Anniversary in Chicago, we lost Jeff and Kwame on Sunday. Beer, food and football prove a pretty impressive adversary no matter how far you’ve traveled to have your balls rocked off and though there are some pretty decent bands opening up the afternoon I understand reserving festival interest for Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.

Melissa takes a cue from them and stakes a claim to the house’s hammock.

Well, fine.

If I have to rock alone in the rain today goddamnit) I’m going to need to start with a sensible, Texas breakfast. I grab two leftover baby back ribs (thanks, Artz) and a Lone Star and devour them noisily. Pat my belly, have a cigarette, take a shit and then head on over in my sensible sneakers and burnt orange anorak.

Fuck it, man. I’m awesome.

When I get to the festival I talk to Sonya again and show her the email from Hum’s people (person? Chris.). She gives me a yellow wristband.

“This will give you photo pit priority for the headliners after Transmission Entertainment.”

(Transmission Entertainment are the people putting on Fun Fun Fun Fest and have a small army of photographs/videographers in orange arm bands patrolling the grounds. Curiously [and mercifully], none of them are assholes.)


Wait a minute.

Headliners? All headliners? Like, the last two bands on every stage (other, of course, than Odd Future, whose photo pit access has been strictly limited since of their members decked a photographer and now they’re getting sued)?!

Holy shit.



I think. I mean, she did say headliners, right?

Holy shit.


This may be the greatest day of my life.

Pictured: Not even close.

All right, now. I don’t want to jinx it. She said headliners but there could be a different band for Slayer so…you know…if it doesn’t work out then that’s fine. I can still see them and rock out and…sure. Okay. Yeah. Whatever happens, happens but I did see an armadillo today and I did meet Speedo yesterday and I am wearing my classic Slayer eagle shirt (which, much to my frustration, hasn’t faded an inch in the last couple of years) so, like, stars are aligning and shit, right?


I need to focus and my focus needs a beer so I grab the nearest Tecate and decide (after a brief, shaky conversation with Ben) to go see Le Butcherettes on the Orange Stage since he assures me they have a super cute drummer and the singer’s some sort of sexy.

I thought they were a pangender band.

It turns out we’re both wrong, though. The singer’s nom de plume may be Teri Gender Bender but from what I can deduce she’s all woman (or, at least, does a REMARKABLE job at tucking). And I don’t know if you would call her sexy, at least not She’s more sexy in the quirk masquerading psychosis transcribed in secret cuts on the soles of her feet crammed into long-since outgrown childhood ballet slippers way which may or may not be your thing (but, if you fell for Natalie Portman’s character in Garden State or anything that smells like Zooey Deschannel you should really do yourself a favor and actually date a legitimately crazy lady. Go on…I’ll wait). It’s definitely not mine (anymore) but it definitely makes her performance captivating. I mean, I can’t take my fucking eyes off of her long enough to realize that’s the dude from Mars Volta playing bass for them or that the drummer’s arm reads “Play through the pain” or even figure out exactly what they sound like.

I guess it’s a sort of beat steady, histrionic garage rock with more keyboards than you’d expect and a delivery belt that resounds some pretty serious Patti Smith worship.

I don’t know that I really want to listen to it.

Le Butcherettes

So I take the long walk over to the Black Stage to check out Davila 666 who, by all accounts, should be exactly what I need to get my party blood pumping this beer straight to my head and sending me into a fuckall frenzy.

They don’t.


I’m not sure if it’s the time of day (it’s only about 1:30) or the inevitable trappings of playing outside on a big stage to a large crowd but Davilla 666 just read kind of boring to me. They look bloated and sleepy. The tambourine player gives me the creeps, the singer looks confused and the midtempo garage they pour out reminds me more of a bad uncle’s repoed 8 Track Tapes than any party I’d want to attend.

Maybe it’s the humidity.

Maybe I’m just hungry.

Davilla 666

I think someone just said that Ryan Gosling’s here.

I decide to grab a Korean pork taco and see if I can find him. Why not? He’s dreamy. You know it. I know it. He knows it. And if we could just get Wall Street occupied then maybe we can tackle a true injustice and remedy the backass notion that somehow, Bradley Cooper can wear the title of “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Man, I hate that guy.

Not Pictured: Sexy.

Ryan Gosling is nowhere to be found though I do overhear some hipster dipshits dropping his name alongside Terrence Malick indicating the two are in some sort of artistic cahoots.


More than a little crestfallen at not getting to meet your new ex-husband, I take the long way to the Black Stage to see Ceremony. A security guard waves me over.

“You know you’re wearing the shirt of the band that’s playing, right?”

“Well, yeah.”

“You can’t do that, dude.”

“You can when it’s fucking Slayer.”

“Is that the rule?”

“Yep. Slayer, Maiden and maybe Metallica…if they hadn’t sucked since the nineties. Believe me. I prated on it and then I drank on it. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Huh. I think you’re right.”

“Fuckin’ a, right.”

“Fuckin a.”

Ceremony are not what I expect but might be just what I need right now. The guitar player is in tight purple pants with a polka dot scarf tied over his eyes, the bass player is surprisingly groovy (wait…did he play in Youth Brigade?) and the singer. Well, I think the singer’s got a shiv which is fine by me since this is punk RAWK music and it’s much more intimidating than I anticipated considering how straight-up, brat pack, spray paint the skateboard Rohnert Park was.

And yeah, the vocals are a little nasally but the reckless spite of the delivery MORE than makes up for any passing SoCal affiliation (these boys are from the Bay). I keep waiting for him to punch me in the face or crack some skulls open with the mic stand. He doesn’t, opting instead to scale the stage supports and hurl himself into the crowd.

Though, at one point, in the middle of a Roger Daltrey, his microphone flies of and slams right into my camera.

It survives and so do I.

They play a totally righteous cover of The Red C’s “Pressure’s On.”


Melissa’s supposed to show up about now to see Mates of State (they’re playing in about 20 minutes over on the Orange Stage) but I’m guessing she’s still in the hammock. Jeff, Kwame and their ladies are nowhere to be found. The couch girls have given up on the rock entirely (I think they just wanted to see Lykke Li last not who they report was “eh…okay”) and I’m beginning to wonder what the fuck they were doing in Texas in the first place.

Stag, then I head over to the Orange Stage. En route, I see my new security friend again.



He looks perplexed at my query.



He shakes his head.




He raises his fist in approval.

What to say about Mates of State. Hmmmm. Not to be a dick, but listening to them just makes me think of advertising. They’ve got the boy/girl, drum/keys love affair going (which makes sense since they’re wed) and their songs are just dripping with melodies but they just don’t reach me. It all sounds like the forced saccharine joy of daytime TV which I find both unremarkable and totally depressing.

Melissa sends me a text from the hammock informing me she can hear the band clear as day and that they sound GREAT!

Clearly, I’m poisoned by the outbursts of Ceremony and the prospect of “Angel of Death.” Either that or I really need to be introduced to Mates of State over an iced tea while swinging lazily in the cool, afternoon breeze.

Actually, that sounds pretty great.

Mates of State

Instead of living with that image, however and, say, giving Mates of State a little more of my time and care I decide to go see Eyehategod.

That’s right.


Why, you might wonder, would I consider spending my perfectly valuable Sunday time at an open-air festival filled with art and joy and delight (so I didn’t like Mates of State. So what? There was still comedy on the Yellow Stage and…I don’t know…SOMETHING on the Blue Stage but NOOOOOOOO! I had to go see Eyehategod) standing in front of a bunch of misanthropic ex-junkies (so I’ve been told, but Mike Williams isn’t looking like the poster child for sobriety these days) whose only pleasures in life seem to be weed, Black Sabbath, sludge and whiskey?

Because, clearly, I hate fun.

Well, that, and I’m a little surprised to learn that there are enough members still alive (Wait? None of them are dead? That doesn’t make any sense.) for them to play a set.

So, scorn and novelty.

And I have both rewarded by a band that is as heavy and as hateful as just about anything I’ve been hearing these days. Except for the one guitar player with the long hair and the maxium rock face. He seems to be having a fucking blast contorting deep, dark blues riffs into a dense, unrelenting cacophony and whoever’s playing bass looks totally stoked to be in the band. Everyone else, though…ESPECIALLY Mike Williams…I mean, Jesus.

It’s like walking arts and craft time at the local methadone clinic while listening to Prurient remix the security tapes from Columbine only…

No, that really seems about right.

I don’t even make it through the first, allotted three.

“At least they photographed well,” my friend Kristen will later comment to me.


Melissa finally arrives and I embrace her like it’s the last thing on my bucket list.

“Hey, baby. Whatcha doin?”

“I just saw Eyehategod for some reason.”

“Oh. Um. Why?”

“I don’t…I don’t know. Is it time for Ted Leo? I want to go see Ted Leo.”

We do. He’s on the Orange Stage. I have no idea why I didn’t take any pictures of him. Must’ve have squandered my precious photo pit time bumming out with Eyehategod and since I don’t feel like thinking about it anymore, I’ll just tell you was all pop-punky political goodness and, rather inexplicably, Melissa and I decided to leave his set to go see the hypersensitive Mutton Chop experience that is Baths. We make it through about half a track when I receive a text from Kwame.

“Um. Are you watching Ted Leo?”

“We were. What happened.”

I grab Melissa’s hand.

“We have to go.”

“What? Why?”

“We have to go see Ted Leo right now!”


“Because I think he’s playing Misfits songs.”

We run over just in time to hear the last note of “Where Eagles Dare.” Ted Leo’s in a black wig, sleeveless black shirt, black jeans and all the fucking enthusiasm and punk cred Glenn Danzig traded in for French Onion Soup.


In his best Danzig baritone (complete with pregnant pauses), Leo explains “I check my Facebook pretty frequently…I saw a message that says that everybody who organizes this festival…wanted to hear a certain song…so this one’s for them.”



Pictured: Skulls.

He plays “Angelfuck” next to close his set and gives everyone, everywhere one more reason to fucking love him.

We find our friends and hang our for a minute. Shoot the shit. Drink. Meander. I get on line for the Hum photo pit WAY earlier than I need to be (I’m actually really excited to see Hum and am pretty much over the moon to actually be invited [well, allowed, technically] to shoot them) and so I get to hear a good share of Architecture in Helsinki’s set.

And I’m going to have to apologize, in part, for what I said about Mates of State earlier. Yes, Mates of State’s music reminds me of the commercials you see on Daytime TV but that’s on account of terrible people like me who ruin everything (ask me about my freelance work sometime) based on hegemonic shifts and shit. Architecture in Helsinki seem to be specifically writing music for commercial use and I’ll bet it makes them a fortune.

It’s not awful, really. Just a creative director’s wet dream. Half music, half electronic. Light and inoffensive.

They do make mention to how excited they are to see Slayer, though. It seems like everybody is, actually. Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Facebook is practically giggling with excitement. There are hundreds of Slayer shirts in the crowd. The security guards all had Slayer on the brain. One bartender even had their name sharpied on her knuckles.

And I’ve fucking stoked too.

But first I’m stoked for Hum.

Now, indulge me for a second…

I have a long and deeply personal relationship with the music of Hum. When my friends and I discovered them in high school we were immediately transformed by the soft waves of almost suffocating pink noise that vainly hid guitar riff heroics (the one that creeps in at the end of “Stars” may be one of my favorite guitar lines of all time) and the desperate whisper to roar of Matt Talbot. It’s kind of hard to explain now. They just happened at the right time in my life and are inextricably linked to a lot of very potent moments in my life.

I only saw them once, with my friend Justin and I’m not too proud to tell you that we each caught each other tearing up at various points in their performance.

And I really wish that he was there with me in Austin but I can’t say for certain if I’ll ever see him again.

So, anyway…

I guess I just needed you to know that so you might understand why there’s no way I can really discuss their performance objectively. It was beautiful. It was uninspired. It was glum, at points, relying more heavily on their slow songs than I would’ve liked. It was crushing when they delivered tracks like “Iron Clad Lou” and “The Pod.”

Or maybe it wasn’t.

All I can tell you was that what I saw and what I heard was not the awe-inspired expression I remember but I guess it really never could be and that saddens me in ways I’m not quite ready to express.

I am happy, however, that Melissa got to hear “Stars” live.


Unfortunately, it was right about that time that I made a new friend who decided to talk my ear off through the entirety of the track (which, peculiarly, did not end the set. Hum turned to infinitely less inspired “I Hate it Too” for that.). It was hard not to deck him, actually but I figured if I got into a fistfight with a local (which, FYI, I TOTALLY probably would’ve won) on account of Hum I probably wouldn’t get a chance to shoot Slayer.

And I certainly wouldn’t deserve to.

And besides he seems like a really nice guy.

All right. All right. Sentimentality’s over. Slayer’s coming. Even Hum mentions that. The crowd is swelling. The air is rich with drunk and smoke and metal heads clamoring for the chance to freak the fuck out as the undisputed kings of all things safely unholy (Tom Arya is, after all, a practicing Catholic family man).

I’m on line for the photo pit. A security guard explains how the whole thing’s going to work. Transmission in first, then yellow bracelets (SQUEE!). If there’s any room left, then the next people on line can get in. Brian Posehn’s going to do a stand up routine first. We can shoot him if we want.

Most of us do for the hell of it. He’s actually really funny and knows full well that he’s opening for Slayer and most people in the audience could give two fucks about “a fat dick talking about his dick.”

Brian Posehn

Midway through his set we are ushered over to the Slayer stage and are given VERY explicit instructions on how this is going to happen, where the camera crew is going to be, where the security needs to stand and what to expect from the stage hands.

Holy shit. This is happening.

I turn to my new friend. I think his name is Trent.

“Dude…this is actually happening.”

“Dude, this is totally happening.”



“We’re about to shoot SLAYER!”


Another photographer chimes in.


The crowd starts chanting.


We’re chanting with them.


A white curtain drops and we see Slayer logos spinning, then pentagrams. Amps are warming. Guitars are plugged in, start a faint playing. Something’s building. Drums. Bass. Oh shit.


The curtain drops. The chanting stops.


We all rush to the stage, start snapping like crazy. “World Painted Blood.” “Hate Worldwide.” “War Ensemble.”


I first heard that song when I was eleven years old and it blew my fucking mind. I immediately went out to Rockaway Records and picked up Seasons in the Abyss on tape. Since, at the time, my mother was not allowing me anything even REMOTELY suggesting a parental advisory sticker (thank, Tip) I snuck it into my house in my underwear and listened to it on my walkmen every night before I went to sleep. Shit, even in high school, when I was at my fey and most horrible, I still played that record all the time.

It changed my life. Shit, it might even have saved it.

And here I am, twenty years later, at the feet of Kerry King. Jaw dropped. Ears blown. Trying to focus but failing because I suddenly understand that I am living the fucking dream.

I’ve done it.

And nothing. NOTHING, no one can EVER take that away from me.


When the song ends, we’re ushered out. I find Melissa. We watch a few more songs. Decide it might be wise to see an Odd Future song for cultural reference and arrive just in time for them to play “Yonkers” and no matter how much posture and pose they throw, Slayer’s still louder and then Tyler gets hit with a half empty water bottle, waits a beat and then he and about ten of his crew jump into the audience swinging. The show stops for a few minutes as that worthless skate rat gets it out of his system.

What a fucking pussy.

We can’t get back to Slayer fast enough. We hear “Raining Blood.” We hear “Black Magic.” We hear fucking “Angel of Death.”

That, my friends, is how you end a set.

We rush out to the Whataburger because a night of Slayer deserves a slab of meat and run into some sweaty local kids in Suicidal caps.

“Dude, were you just at Slayer?”


“Did they play ‘Raining Blood’?”

“Of course they did. And the closed with ‘Angel of Death.’”


“Yeah, man. It was fucking AMAZING!”

A pretty blonde walks in with her pretty friends.

“Oh my God, you saw Slayer? How was it?”

“Oh you know…”


“You know, Nazi evil with swords.”

Ed. Note: To see the rest of our (mostly) complete coverage of Fun Fun Fun Fest 2011 (including photos of Hot Snakes, The Oh Sees, Cold Cave and Big Freedia), please see Day 1 and Day 2.

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