The 10th Annual Fun Fun Fun Fest started on an overcast and cool Friday afternoon in Austin, Texas at Auditorium Shores. The mini-Zilker park was less crowded on opening day than the previous year and although entry was delayed an hour, the logistics for pass pick-up and entry were way more efficient than in 2014 (read: no waiting in line!) The chill vibe would set the tone for the rest of the weekend. I headed over to the Orange Stage.
Mikal Cronin’s set was laid back, casual and a perfect way to kick-off my festival experience. Although a few people in the audience kept yelling to turn up volume on the mic, Cronin ignored them and continued to play his fuzzed-out, California pop tunes, looking as carefree and comfortable as he would playing in a friend’s garage. The band played mostly songs off of 2013’s MCII, including my favorites “Weight” and “Shout It Out.” The guitarist smiled as he watched me sing along. It’s impossible to be unhappy when listening to Cronins’s effortlessly catchy melodies. The set felt like it ended as quickly as it started and I realized I had become addicted to the great mood in put me in. I left the stage singing “I learned a little bit a long long time ago, just from a friend I used to know…” and no one could ruin my chill.
One of the fest’s most anticipated acts, Viet Cong arrived late on stage as the leader singer explained how they had had taken an Uber in from Dallas, and had been on the road since three a.m. I quickly fell for the long-haired, bearded bear that goes by “Monty” in a gray METZ sweatshirt on guitar. Mike Wallace the lithe drummer who looked like a mix of 90’s Leonardo DiCaprio and 90’s Jim Carrey was totally pumped, and energetically lead the band from behind his drum set. Wallace shouted countdowns to their noisy and strangely captivating tunes from their self-titled album like “Continental Shelf” and “Silhouettes”. The band’s other guitarist, Daniel Christiansen rolled around on the floor, kept his eyes tightly shut and lost himself in the set as he violently strummed his guitar.
TORO Y MOI
Even though it was my fourth time seeing Toro Y Moi, I still get as excited as I when I did the very first time I saw him, because I know how much fun I always have. Chaz Bundick arrived minutes before set time and had apparently just gotten off a plane and came straight to the fest. Toro played their fun, danceable set that consisted mostly of songs from their What For? record released in April of this year. As the sun set, the whole crowd was dancing to the funky, lo-fi jams. A young girl standing next to me (pictured above) freaked out the entire set, and yelled “I love you Chaz” over and over for what I would get was about fifty-thousand times. But you know, who could blame her.
Waiting for Antemasque, the people around were geeking out about seeing Travis Barker walking around earlier that day, and I was nervously thinking about about getting hot water spilled on me. Sure, it’s crazy to assume that just because Cedric Bixler-Zavala threw a pitcher of boiling hot water at a festival crowd in New Zealand means that he would do it again – but who knows?! As the road crew set up the stage, I carefully watched as the electric water kettle was brought out, watching the steam rise in the cold night air. Once the band took the stage though, I quickly forgot about Cedric’s hot tea water and became engrossed in his commanding presence. Zavala, in skin-tight, black skinny jeans, stood underneath a bushel of curly black hair and clung to a microphone at the end of a long, white cord that draped across the entire stage. In between songs off of last year’s self-titled album, Zavala talked politics and even asked the audience who was going to vote for Hillary. He also spoke about what it’s like being a dad, and letting the right one in so life can get better. I would be lying if I said every time I heard Antemasque I didn’t wish I was listening to Mars Volta instead, but Cedric’s on-stage antics - hiding under a plastic tarp that was being used to protect gear from the rain and taking a mic stand apart during Omar Rodriguez’s guitar solo and holding it up like selfie stick – kept me fulfilled. I will always have a soft spot in my heart from any project Rodriguez and Bixler-Zavala undertake because they are from my hometown of El Paso. It continues to be an interesting experience to witness them through each stage of their musical career.
Closing out the Orange Stage on Friday night was CHVRCHES. Lauren Mayberry bounded across the stage like a tiny mouse in a black dress. She ran from one side of the stage to the other in a way that felt admittedly awkward and unnatural, however it somehow only made her more endearing. The petite frontwoman sung perfectly on pitch, her light and airy vocals carrying out into the night sky. The synth beats from her bandmates were perfectly in sync with the brightly flashing red screens behind them. After a few songs Mayberry stopped to talk about the band’s previous shows in Austin and how excited she was to go see the latest James Bond movie after the fest was over. She also wondered aloud if Daniel Craig’s James Bond really gets laid as easily as it seems in the movies, questioned the audience about what the heck Bananarchy was (Austin’s version of the Bluth Banana Stand, if you’re curious). Between her bright-eyed wonder and small stature made it was hard to believe the woman on stage was out of high school, much less a couple years from turning thirty. She went on to point out a girl using an umbrella that looked like a jellyfish before swapping places with Martin Doherty on the drum pad so he could perform “Under the Tide.” Although the band performed their singles from September’s release Every Open Eye, the major crowd-pleasers still all came from their debut album The Bones of What You Believe from 2013. The Scottish synthpop’s tight and energetic set owned the night, and then sent us on our way with “The Mother We Share.”