The Best Things We Saw at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015

Hudson MohawkeEXPAND
Hudson Mohawke
Photo by Marco Torres

Peaches: I never really understand why people are like, "We need people like Lady Gaga because pop music is so boring" when performers like Peaches exist. Here's a brief list of things I saw during Peaches' set: Peaches walking on the crowd while smoking a joint; Peaches climbing in to a giant inflatable phallus; Peaches licking her armpit (that's how she shows her appreciation to the crowd, I think); a taco cannon; and a really adorable wedding proposal. I guess what I'm saying is that maybe we should stop settling for what the major labels want us to think is weird and start demanding people who are just naturally badass.

Hudson Mohawke: Having seeing his TNGHT partner Lunice multiple times in the past, I thought I knew what I was getting in to when I saw Mohawke on the FFF Fest lineup: good beats, lots of energy, but still your standard "dude stands behind a laptop" DJ set. I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. Mohawke arrived in Austin with a live show, combining prerecorded tracks with a keyboardist and a drummer, and put on what may very well be the best dance music set I've ever seen. I can only give it the highest compliment that I can give any show: what Mohawke and company were doing on stage was so good I didn't want the set to end. If he brings his band to your town, find a way to put them in front of your eyeballs.

Women Rule the Night: Dozens of bands played shows as part of Fun Fun Fun Fest Nites, but there are three I want to point out specifically because they all blew my mind in different ways. Youth Code opened the big Skinny Puppy show over at ACL Live, and while I may be in the minority here, I thought there performance was much stronger than what SP did. It was raw and intense and magnetic, just wall to wall aggression and atmosphere without pretension. I like spectacle, but some bands have enough magic without all the pomp and circumstance. Moving Panoramas are one of those bands that make you feel better about the state of music. I mean, you always know there's still good stuff out there you just haven't heard, but it's always nice to find a band that's just no qualifiers needed good. MP's songwriting is just a delight, and I hope they make it to our neck of the woods sooner rather than later. Where do you start with Future Death? Should walls of noise have that much melody? That is a melody under everything, right? I think there was, and even if there wasn't, they can smash me in the face with "Familiar Tremors" any time they'd like.

— Cory Garcia

Antemasque: Since Antemasque started as a group, they've been skirting the lines of mainstream punk rock and progressive post-punk. Now, with Travis Barker from Blink-182 as drummer, they're forging ahead with a power pop sound that transcends anything the band has attempted in their past.

They took the stage at Fun Fun Fun Fest and immediately challenged the audience with a set almost entirely composed of new material. Along with a cover of Joe Jackson's “One More Time,” they blitzed through a set of all new tracks from their latest record, which has yet to be released, and a couple of songs from their self-titled debut, crafting a set which made them one of the most exciting headlining acts on the Orange Stage.

La Dispute: Of the two sets I saw La Dispute play this time around, both were marred by difficulties with scheduling. First, at 611 E 7th St, the former home of Red 7, they played a stellar and intimate set for a select group of fans who had arrived early, because the Title Fight headlining set on the outside stage forced them to play slightly early. Then, the set at Fun Fun Fun Fest was lost on all but the earliest people to brave the massive line in the wake of the rain which forced several bands to be bumped from their early spots on the bill.

In spite of their early spot, La Dispute played like a future headliner, crafting emo jams and singalongs that will live forever in the hearts and minds of their earliest supporters. Even with a set mostly composed of newer hits, they busted out old school La Dispute fan favorites like “I See Everything” and “King Park” that wowed the audience and brought them in for epic moments of camaraderie and shared existential angst. This band knows like none other how to dredge up those particular feelings, or at least inspire people to feel them through the power of empathy.

American Sharks: It's been a long time since Roky Moon and BOLT were a part of the Houston music scene. Since, front man Roky Moon has moved to Austin and carved a name for himself as one of the city's leading hardcore front men. As a member of American Sharks, he is absolutely crushing it. He sings and plays bass, and they play a whirlwind of metallic hardcore that will make you bang your head hard.

They were unfortunately bumped from the festival's Black Stage due to rain, so they performed a hard rocking set at the Fun Fun Fun Nites show at the Mohawk, opening for Andrew WK on Sunday. Their set slayed the packed crowd, who mostly were awaiting the headliner, and definitely won over some new fans in the process.

— Corey Dieterman

Ms. Lauryn HillEXPAND
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Photo by Marco Torres

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Ms. Lauryn Hill: We expected the worst, and received the best. Ms. Hill arrived on time, began her set as scheduled, and played music without the crazy socio-political commentary. She looked extra comfortable sitting on a couch with the Austin skyline as her backdrop, playing the guitar and passionately motioning to her band to keep up with her energy. The horns, rhythm section, and back-up singers sounded like a hip hop symphony as they played complement to Lauryn's lyrics and soulful voice. The highlight of the night, at least to me, was "The Mystery of Iniquity", which is the track sampled by Kanye West on "All Falls Down". Simply magical!

Lucas Bros.: I haven't literally LOL'd in a very long time, but these guys made me snort as I stood through their set at the Yellow Stage on Saturday. They are smart, cool, and are blessed with impeccable timing and delivery. The definitely feed off of each other, something that is more than natural for identical twins, but are also not afraid to call each other out when they mess up the punchline. Jokes about hoping their absent father being a murderer and wanting Wesley Snipes as their next president were total hits.

Keeper: Austin's harmonizing and hip girl band Keeper (with BoomBaptist on the beats, turntables, and voicebox) turned in a lively set that was worth jumping out of bed and showing up with a hangover early Sunday morning. They call their genre "synth-soul", and dammit does that ever fit perfectly. They ended with an awesome cover of The Fugees' "Fu-Gee-La" that wow's the crowd and made everyone hip hop bounce in the sun. Check them out at http://www.keepermusic.com/.

BADBADNOTGOOD: I've been excited to see them live since hearing their work with Ghostface Killah on the Sour Soul album. They packed the Yellow Stage tent with lively jazz jams that confused some in the audience (Is this the Jazz tent now?). I guess many people thought Ghostface was gonna show up, but what they got was young kids playing fun and hip jazz music. It makes sense that this is popular, with acts such as Flying Lotus and Thundercat also filling the sounds of hip-hop with live instruments and trippy music landscapes. I only stayed for about 15 minutes before going to see Lauryn Hill, but I am excited to see them play Redbull's #30DaysInLa later this month.

Benjamin Booker: Go see this man ASAP! Nothing fancy, just hard core blues and rock. Plays the guitar with a cigarette hanging from his lips and the audience enthralled in his notes and vocals.

— Marco Torres


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