The Weather Sure it makes me sound like a curmudgeon, but I hate summer festivals. Oh sure, the music is great, but the heat, good lord the heat. It's just exhausting. Even ACL runs the risk of getting mighty uncomfortable if October decides not to play nice.
By the time November rolls around, though, even the warmest days are pleasant and the cooler days are just an excuse to wear those awesome hoodies you've been keeping in storage.
Spoken Word and Comedy on the Yellow Stage One of the least talked-about draws of FFF Fest might be their Yellow Stage, which hosts spoken-word and comedy performances. Every year, it ends up drawing out some awesome speakers, and continues to be one of the highlights of the whole fest.
This year we've got legendary avant-garde film director John Waters promoting his new book on hitchhiking across America, Carsick, anti-comedian Neil Hamburger, Portlandia and SNL star Fred Armisen, political punk-rocker Jello Biafra, and even weirdo soul singer Har Mar Superstar.
Let's Get Weird I would never say that putting together a festival schedule is easy, but sometimes you look at a flier and it feels that way. "Oh look, the usual suspects. Yay." What I've always enjoy about FFF Fest is that even though they book a lot of acts we expect, they aren't afraid to get a little weird with it.
Who books Ginuwine in 2014? Who risks booking Death Grips again? Who knew John Waters did festivals? I dig that the fest sticks to what entertains them, even when it doesn't pan out (damn you, Death Grips).
The Publicists Once a publicist finds out a journalist is going to FFF Fest, by God, then he or she really goes to work. These fine folks will ply you with interviews, downloads, schedules of their artists (whether at the fest itself or the aftershows), and awesome pics like Mr. Antwon up there. Basically they will do everything except get you onstage. Many also take working vacations to see their artists at the fest, and will be more than happy to buy you a beer or two. Or so we've heard.
Reunions Every year FFF Fest manages to provide some major reunion, mainly in the more obscure realms of punk and indie-rock. It's a huge treat for those of us who want to see reunions of bands who probably wouldn't draw much of a crowd at bigger festivals like Austin City Limits or Coachella. Bands like these this year include the Blood Brothers, Knapsack, and Mineral, while years past have included Hot Snakes and Refused. This is often your one-stop-shop for such reunion shows, and with any luck we'll be seeing a Sleater-Kinney performance next year. Fingers crossed for that one.
The Best Lineups Sure, plenty of festivals book bigger acts than FFF Fest, but I always find that when the Fest is over I've enjoyed the living mixtape this one provides more than any other. I've discovered more acts via FFF Fest than any other (shout-out to Big Freedia and Lemuria) and their mid-card is always full of acts that I've always wanted to see but didn't realize until I saw the lineup (Amon Amarth, I'm looking at you).
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The Overflow Quick question, when was the last time Modest Mouse played in Houston? A quick look suggests it was 2005, which is absolutely insane. Unfortunately, bands have a tendency to just skip Houston for some reason, especially indie-rock bands. In fact, it seems like the only time they do play in Houston is usually when they're overflowing from Austin City Limits or Fun Fun Fun Fest.
This year Modest Mouse finally returns to Houston, no doubt because they're playing FFF Fest the same weekend. What would Houston do without that kind of overflow? In a way, the festival is a boon to the entire state of Texas just for bringing these bands our way.
FFF Fest Nites Lots of festivals have afterparties, but FFF Fest has what amounts to basically an entire separate festival once the main gates close. All throughout downtown Austin, there's a whole new world of bands to check out, and the shows are free with your festival ticket. I can go see Wovenhand or Meat Puppets or the Pizza Underground as a bonus to my festival experience? That's awesome.
Far Out Fun Fest There's something far darker about FunFunFunFest that any other event that happens in Austin. Dirtier. Louder. More relaxed. There is no such thing as flash tattoos at this festival, but rather full sleeves or backs or belly tattoos are the norm. Where else are you gonna find Killer Mike perform atop of a skateboard ramp, or enjoy the thrill of semi-pro wrestling steps away from Nas performing Illmatic?
The stages are smaller, so it feels like you are so much closer to the action, and people actually know how to drink and chill. After a long year full of packed shows and exhaustive mega-festivals, this one make us feel right at home.
Something Called Personality Through their social-media accounts, advertising, art usage and festival aesthetic, FFF Fest has developed something that a lot of other festivals lack: personality. Sure, you can describe other festivals, but often you're describing the people who go to them more than the actual festivals. But FFF Fest is something: it's your cool, funny, laid-back buddy who always has the best mixtures and is always down for the best adventures.
It's not the only festival that has managed to pull this off -- Riotfest is your self-depreciating buddy who is also a lovable jerk -- but it's something I wish more festivals strove for. I'd much rather go to a fest that I feel genuinely wants everyone to have a cool time rather than one that feels like an easy cash grab.
Written by Corey Deiterman, Cory Garcia, Chris Gray and Marco Torres
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