The first day of Fun Fun Fun Fest was marked by the oddball stylings of an in-character Val Kilmer terrorizing the stage with the Black Lips, and the triumphant return of rap legends Run-D.M.C. rocking the main stage to close out the night. In between there was Bob Mould, Converge, Houston's own Bun B, and the ass-shaking throwdown that was Santigold's set.
SLIDESHOWS: The Girls of Fun Fun Fun Fest
Oh, and Earth's Dylan Carlson joke-offering money(?) for the stabbing of fans using photo flash during his set. The ambient metal master has a medical condition that is worsened by flashing lights. Still the Earth set was worth leaving Superchunk for a few songs.
At least I can say I saw one of Kurt Cobain's bros in person. CRAIG HLAVATY
The former Husker Du front man ran through his landmark album with post-Du group Sugar, Copper Blue, for fans and novices alike. His riffage is of course all still there, proving he's one of the few artists of his vintage still making shit work. That metallic lead guitar is like butter melting on a baked potato. CRAIG HLAVATY
Caught the last half of Bob Mould's set, during which he played his band Sugar's entire first album. His voice sounded powerful and unique as usual, and there was quite a crowd so we were pretty far back. He finished with "Man on the Moon" before introducing his band and saying "That was Copper Blue. I like that record. It'd probably the last time I'll ever play that whole record live." (Mould and band have been on a Copper Blue tour all summer.) He then introduced a couple of tracks off his newest album, including one called "The Descent." "I love this song," he said. Conclusion: Bob Mould is pretty damn proud of his work. Rightfully so. BRITTANIE SHEY
AGAINST ME! I haven't seen Against Me! since the Houston Press Best Fest in 2011, and if you've been keeping up with the news, you know the band has gone through some changes. I headed over to the Black Stage to see them after catching the last couple of songs from Tomahawk, who were pretty fun in a power-rock kind of way. And watching Against Me! warm up was a treat. The drummer looked like Animal playing all for himself, and bassist Andrew Seward loosened up by playing the baseline to Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain," which I'd just heard on the radio earlier in the day. Singer Laura Jane Grace took the stage and the band went right into Transgender Disphoria Blues, the title track off their most recent album, the first to feature signer Grace since her transformation from Tom Gabel. Grace also introduced a song as being about the pro-choice movement. This is one thing I've always liked about Against Me! -- they have a pop-punk musical sensibility, but their music isn't candy and they've never shied away from political or challenging subjects. BRITTANIE SHEY
A slice of Houston rap in Austin brought the Rocks Off team back home for an hour on the Blue Stage. We praised the legend of Pimp C, and watched a sea of H's bump in time with the UGK icon. CRAIG HLAVATY
It doesn't matter if you've seen him once or a hundred times, the King of the Trill gets the blood pumping and the heart jumping every time. With a calm yet forceful demeanor, Bun delivers his rhymes with majestic flow and determination. He invited me backstage with him for his set, and I observed him pacing around behind the stage practicing lines, checking his phone, and keeping the mood light. I wondered if he would cut his set short in order to allow the fans (and himself) to go check out Run-D.M.C. across the park. But Bun never cuts corners, nor does he sell his fans short. That wouldn't be trill. But his performance Friday night, in front of a sizable group of fans, was certainly of the trill variety. MARCO TORRES
MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS
I saw this band mentioned on Reddit several times within the last month, and I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. Turns out this group includes an energetic white rapper who is backed up by a stellar black soul band. Sounds a bit strange, but good Lord do the kids like it! The energy of this set was splendid, and the rapper jumped into the crowd on more than a few occasions. This is one of those that require more research when I get home. MARCO TORRES
The kids like it, judging by the YouTube hits, but it seemed grating to me. The hip-hop poppers held a crowd by the ball on the Blue Stage right before Bun's syrup-drenched set. Thankfully that crowd just shifted left for Bun. CRAIG HLAVATY
See a review of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Houston show Monday on Rocks Off -- ed.
"Rock Box", "It's Tricky", "Mary Mary", and a mini-set by Jam Master Jay's kiddos, made for a tidal wave of love for the musical pioneers. The crowd left with stupid smiles on their faces, and even had a few hard-bitten tattooed metalheads waving their hands like they did in fact, not care. A few festival-goers were even sporting gold chains, BC glasses, and fedoras to get in the spirit. CRAIG HLAVATY
Then there was the whole Val Kilmer affair. The Black Lips made an unscheduled performance featuring Kilmer ranting on stage, and Santigold started her 7:40 p.m. set about 20 minutes late due to backstage scene involving a taxi cab that was being shot by Terrence Malick as part of his Austin music scene love story project. But you'll have to read more about that over on our sister blog, Art Attack. Teaser: There's video. BRITTANIE SHEY
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I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I signed up for this show. I don't have a lot of experience with the metal crowd. I'm not very vocal or hardcore, and I was afraid that I would have a hard time approaching these fans. But once you get there, behind the tattoos and jean vests and Mohawks, the Fun Fun Fun Fest crowd is super-likable and welcoming. I'm looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend with my new friends. About the only people I ran into that were in a bad mood were the ones working on the Terrence Malick film. Maybe they're just sour because they have to "work" instead of having fun with the rest of us. MARCO TORRES