This year's Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin was the exact thing Aftermath needed in the midst of his fall concert schedule, even though the last day was marred by mud and constant rain. But after last month's dillo-dirtied Austin City Limits Festival, a little slop on the boots is nothing to cry over anymore. At least this time around we only dealt with one day of grit and wet, rather than two days of comic pratfalls and soaked clothes.
The thing that made us almost instant fans of FFFF right when we walked in the gate was the lack of hippies. At a festival like ACL, it's a given that you will see dozens walking past, dreadlocked and grinny. Instead, at FFFF you can expect spiky-haired teen punks with scowls and nicotine-stained fingers flipping you off. Aftermath is more scared of hippies, seeing that he grew up around liberty spikes and leather jackets. FFFF feels more like home than anything else, and with four stages we were amply pacified.
We hadn't been to a FFFF before, but we were struck by how well the organizers set everything up, from the amenities at Waterloo Park right down to the line-up, which seemed to fold back upon itself; the younger bands playing during the day harkened back to the established and influential headliners. In nerdier terms, that means that one could see a band in the afternoon and see their direct influence just hours later.
|Kentucky Headhunters: Young Widows|
We saw this phenomenon up close on Saturday, when things started out nice and grisly with Louisville's Young Widows on the Black stage. The trio ground through 40 minutes of grim jumpy metal, akin to the night's closers the Jesus Lizard who seemed to be the main course of the weekend for most everyone.
Saturday afternoon we discovered the live sonics of Los Angeles' No Age, a band who as of late have been playing one-off dates with former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould. Just a few hours later, Japan's Melt Banana played a set of cacophonic noise that makes us sad that we will miss their set at Walter's this evening in Houston. Singer Yasuko Onuki came out dressed like a hipster mummy and guitarist Ichirou Agata scared the uninitiated with his ever-present surgical mask.
|Jesus Lizard mouthbreather David Yow|
Rediscovered proto-punk pioneers Death came onstage almost 30 minutes late on Saturday night, but it was worth the wait. The band opened with a silent cloaked tribute to their fallen brother, guitarist David Hackney, who passed away in 2000 of lung cancer. They still carried the fire of that was heard on their newly-lauded recordings that finally saw release this past winter. Death represents the missing link between bands like the Stooges and the MC5 and the hardcore bands that followed such as Bad Brains and Black Flag. We were essentially watching a live punk rock archaeology dig.
Closing Saturday was the Austin-bred Jesus Lizard, who seem to have only gotten gnarlier as the years have passed. Lead singer David Yow came out in a rush, saying "Hello Dallas!" to humor the crowd after before launched his body full force into the crowd in front of him. He looked like a demented Harvey Keitel through the set, running through songs like "Seasick" and "Mouth Breather" like it was his last show on Earth.